Linked through Orthodoxy and Internationalism

In memoriam: A portrait of the Viennese Psychoanalyst Harold Leupold-Löwenthal

Harald Leupold-Löwenthal was a founder of the Sigmund Freud Society. In his time, he was the longest practicing analyst in Vienna, and was involved in establishing the practice of psychoanalysis in Ukraine.

In Vienna he was considered the dean of his guild and dedicated his life to the spread and preservation of psychoanalysis: Harald Leupold-Löwenthal strived for the ideal of thinking outside the box by cultivating contacts worldwide. Today IPU remembers him and reflects together with his widow Ida di Pietro Leupold-Löwenthal on his important contributions to society and the psychoanalytical community. She will further his work in the same spirit by supporting IPU students through the Germany Scholarship (Deutschlandstipendium) beginning with the 2019/2020 Winter Semester.

"He was a raconteur,” says Ida di Pietro Leupold-Löwenthal of her husband, who passed away in 2007. This is how virtuoso storytellers are being characterized. “Regardless of where he went, he had the right words for everyone, always the most fitting anecdote—whether he was just telling a fairytale to a child or was describing his encounter with Anna Freud to an older woman.” And he was respected in Vienna’s public sphere. Sometimes one could hear mentions of him, that experiencing an analysis with Leupold-Löwenthal was something almost admirable. He led the Vienna Psychoanalytical Society from 1974 to 1981. The Vienna City Councilor for Culture and the Austrian Chancellor commemorated him after his passing.

Leupold-Löwenthal saught to continue Sigmund Freud’s Legacy

To review his accomplishments, it is best to begin with Sigmund Freud. The “founding father” of psychoanalysis was a central figure for Leupold-Löwenthal. Already in 1969, as a board member of the Vienna Psychoanalytic Society, he participated in the founding of the Sigmund Freud Society, for which he served as president starting in 1976. Then in 1971 he began work on the establishment of the Sigmund Freud Museum in Vienna. His connection to Freud was expressed also in his self-image: “He had the desire to continue Freud’s legacy,” says his wife Ida di Pietro Leupold-Löwenthal, “therefore he considered it important to schedule four or five analysis sessions per week. One can definitely say that he saw himself as an orthodox analyst.”

As a lecturer at the University of Vienna, and above all in the Sigmund Freud Society, Leupold-Löwenthal very practically furthered the work of Freud. Many meetings and events were based on Freudian analysis, at which he offered students a similar proposition to that which Freud himself had made: to establish a place in order to discuss psychoanalysis—content that was underrepresented at the university.

The Development and Redevelopment of Psychoanalysis After the War

Also, in 1971, when he organized the first post-war psychoanalytical conference in Vienna, Leupold-Löwenthal became visible to the general public. From this he was able to win over Anna Freud, who had to flee to London with her father before the war. She was rather unhappy to return to the land where she and her family were persecuted as Jews. Leupold-Löwenthal’s wife explains her husband’s endeavor to look back on the past through his individual experiences: “He was born in 1926 and lived through the Nazi Occupation, where he witnessed many injustices.” That is why he wanted to reconstruct what was destroyed by this criminal regime.

In the 1970s and 1980s, the Viennese psychoanalysts traveled to Hungary, Poland, and former Czechoslovakia in order to support the development of psychoanalysis there. A focus country was Ukraine in 1995, where he organized conferences in Odessa, Kiev, and Lemberg. His significance for the Ukrainian psychoanalytic community is apparent to this day. In September 2019, there was a conference organized in his honor: 25 Years of Harald Leupold-Löwenthal. “Today’s analysts in Ukraine find analysis helpful in one’s own search for identity,” emphasizes Ida di Pietro Leupold-Löwenthal, “as such there are direct connections between the political and individual situations in the country.”

Internationally linked and mindful of Promoting the Next Generation

Spending time internationally was also an important binding element in the Leupold-Löwenthal marriage. Ida di Pietro Leupold-Löwenthal had very often worked internationally, through which there were always new possibilities to travel the world. “My husband was curious, and always enjoyed seeing new things,” says di Pietro, looking back. This is how a trip to Cuba came about, where he took part in a conference on “Marxist psychotherapy”. On another occasion, he met a Japanese psychoanalyst.

In order to stay current with the state of intellectual psychoanalytic discourse, he was an active member in the Center for Advanced Psychoanalytic Studies (CAPS). Twice a year, he participated in a gathering of prominent analysts, and cultivated friendships and relationships with important international figures from psychoanalysis, such as Adam Limentani, Wolfgang Loch, Lore Schacht, Hanna Segal, Alain Gibeault, Andre Green, Janice De Saussure, Eglé and Moses Laufer, Annemarie and Joseph Sandler.

Harald Leupold-Löwenthal used every opportunity as an analyst to introduce psychoanalysis to young people throughout the world. The promotion of the next generation is therefore a common goal of IPU, Harald Leupold-Löwenthal, and his wife Ida di Pietro Leupold-Löwenthal. Students who engage themselves in the study of psychoanalysis at IPU may be supported through the Germany Scholarship (Deutschlandstipendium), through which they gain more financial freedom as well as possibilities for more involvement.