About Otto Rank
Rank (Rosenfeld) Otto (1884-1939), psychologist and psychoanalyst, first Secretary of the Vienna Psychoanalytic Society, member of Freud’s Committee, or “Ring” of 7 and his closest associate (1906-1925). Honorary member, American Psychoanalytic Association (1924-30). Lecturer: Sorbonne, Pennsylvania School of Social Work, etc. He was born in Vienna, Austria, son of Simon Rosenfeld, an artisan jeweler, and Karoline Fleischner. His older brother studied law while Otto became a locksmith: the family could not afford higher education for both. Close to his mother but alienated from his alcoholic father, Otto adopted “Rank” in adolescence and formalized it a few years later, symbolizing self-creation, a central theme of his life and work. Of Jewish background, growing up in Catholic Vienna, Rank was a religious skeptic who wrote his own Ten Commandments, among them “Thou shalt not give birth reluctantly”. He read deeply in philosophy and literature, loved music, and considered himself an artist, writing poetry and a literary diary. Before he was 21 he read Freud’s Interpretation of Dreams (1900). He applied psychoanalytic ideas in an essay on the artist; the manuscript came to Freud (probably from Alfred Adler, Rank’s physician) which led to Rank’s appointment as secretary of the Vienna Psychoanalytic Society in 1906. With Freud’s financial and moral support, Rank obtained his Ph.D. from the University of Vienna in 1912, the first candidate to do so with a psychoanalytic thesis subject. Rank became the acknowledged expert on philosophy, literature, and myth in the Vienna Psychoanalytic Society and kept the Minutes (1906-1918; now published in four volumes). Otto Rank became the most prolific psychoanalytic writer after Freud, with Der Künstler (1907; expanded eds. 1918 and 1925), Der Mythus der Geburt des Heldens (1909), Die Lohengrin Sage [his doctoral thesis] (1911), and Das Inzest-Motiv in Dichtung und Sage (1912, 2nd ed. 1926), a 700-page survey of world literature. Except for the posthumous Beyond Psychology (1941), Rank’s books were written in his native German. Translations, mostly of his early psychoanalytic works, exist in English, French, Italian, and Spanish. Of the founders of the International Psychoanalytic Association, Rank was closest to Freud geographically, professionally and personally. He helped edit and contributed two chapters to Freud’s Die Traumdeutung (eds. 4-7, 1914-1922; “Traum und Dichtung” and “Traum und Mythus”). He and Hanns Sachs edited the journal Imago beginning in 1912; with Freud and Sandor Ferenczi he edited Die Zeitschrift für Psychoanalyse beginning in 1913. Rank witnessed the vicissitudes and bitter endings of Freud’s relationships with Wilhelm Stekel, Alfred Adler, and Carl Jung; Rank’s tenure with Freud lasted much longer – two decades, exceeded only by that of his friend Sandor Ferenczi and his foe Ernest Jones. Other works important in Rank’s Freudian period include “Ein Beitrag zum Narcissismus,” (Jarbuch, 1911), Die Bedeutung der Psychoanalyse für die Geisteswissenschaften (1912, with H. Sachs), Psychoanalytische Beitrage zur Mythenforschung (1919), Die Don Juan Gestalt (1922), Der Doppelgänger (1925), Eine Neurosenanalyse in Traumen (1924), Sexualität und Schuldgefühl (1926), Technik der Psychoanalyse (I. Die Analytische Situation 1926; II. Die Analytische Reaktion 1929; III. Die Analyse Des Analytikers 1931; II and III translated as Will Therapy 1936), Grundzüge einer genetischen Psychologie (I. Genetische Psychologie 1927, II. Gestaltung und Ausdruck der Personlichkeit 1928; III. Wahrheit und Wirklichkeit 1929, translated as Truth and Reality 1936). Freud discouraged young Rank from pursuing a medical career. After 1912 Freud always addressed the new Ph.D as “Dr. Rank” and eventually referred patients to him. This was
and action in contrast with the (classical Freudian) unconscious. Carl Rakosi. Rank served in the Austrian army in Poland during World War I. responsibility. which became Rank’s major responsibility along with training psychoanalytic candidates from around the world. Rank modified the open-ended analytic process by using termination as the focus for separation and independent development. and Irvin Yalom. Until then psychoanalysis had been father-centered. In this respect his work anticipated the innovations of Franz Alexander (brief analytic therapy. Maxwell Geismar. Rank’s companion in the last four years of his life was Estelle Buel. Freud and Rank agreed on another controversial issue: the eligibility of homosexual candidates for analytic training. Helene (1919) enhanced Rank’s interest in the pre-Oedipal phase of development (birth to age 3) and the mother-child relationship. In 1924 Rank turned 40 and visited the United States for the first time where he was received and honored as Freud’s emissary. past history. wrote. choice. drives. taught. The American Psychoanalytic Association expelled him and required his former analysands to undergo re-analysis. with their attendant and inevitable anxiety in the pre-Oedipal period. respectively. Carl Rogers. Marion Kenworthy. is being studied and discussed more objectively by psychoanalytic scholars today. where he met and married Beata “Tola” Mincer in 1918. Rank meant only to balance and extend Freud’s work but this book. determinism. The birth of their only child. 1991). and intellectual insight. the present.S. Paul Goodman. assertions that his departure from the psychoanalytic fold were a result of mental instability (by E. and the actual relationship – as opposed to transference – in
. and his work with Ferenczi on active therapy Entzwicklungsziele der Psychoanalyse (1924) – led to a final break with his mentor. he died in New York City at 55. Art and Artist and Modern Education (1932) are works of social psychology and cultural history addressing psychology and religion. The work of Rank and his colleague. A. Rank’s creativity continued to flourish in his post-Freudian period. 1998]. and practiced a briefer form of psychoanalytic therapy with a more egalitarian relationship between therapist and patient. Anais Nin. Carl Whitaker. Jones and A. He emphasized conscious experience. Otto Rank’s emphasis on will. although his ideas had begun to challenge Freudian doctrine. Esther Menaker. Over the next decade Rank lectured. consciousness. Orthodox Freudians condemned Rank as a deviant. creativity. In 1924 Rank published Das Trauma der Geburt. Noted psychiatrists influenced by Rank include Frederick Allen. Rank had applied for U. which in Freud’s theory was mainly taken up with the Oedipus complex. emphasizing the importance of separation and individuation. the ego. Although Rank suffered from poor physical health and occasional depression.consistent with his support of non-medical or “lay” analysis. Some of Rank’s ideas which seemed radical in his time are now in the mainstream of psychoanalytic thought: the importance of the early mother-child relationship. Ferenczi. the here-and-now. citizenship when a kidney infection led to fatal septicemia. writers and critics include Ernest Becker. and the corrective emotional experience). and Henry Murray. Freud and Rank established the Internationaler Psychoanalytischer Verlag in 1919. she became a noted lay analyst and practiced in Boston after their separation in 1934. Seelenglaube und Psychologie (1930) [Psychology and the Soul. and education. Ludwig Lewisohn. relationship and creativity appealed to psychologists Rollo May. an American of Swiss descent whom he married just three months before his death. Between 1926 and 1931 he wrote major works on developmental psychology and therapeutic technique which are considered a forerunner of object relations theory and ego psychology (Rudnytsky. Robert Jay Lifton. and Miriam Waddington. Brill) are not supportable. Max Lerner.
. As social psychologist he contributed to our understanding of myth. Columbia University. ethics. religion. client-centered. holds the Otto Rank papers in its rare book and manuscript collections. He anticipated and influenced interpersonal. publishing works by Rank and many others who knew him and/or his writings.therapy. The Butler Library. and organizational behavior. and relationship therapies.. art. A collection of his American lectures (1924-1938) has been published as A Psychology of Difference (Robert Kramer. The Journal of the Otto Rank Association appeared twice annually from 1966-1983. 1996). education. Gestalt. existential. ed.