History of Psychoanalysis in Poland in a German-Polish-Jewish Cultural Context 1900 to 2015

Project Heads: Professor (PAN) Dr. habil. Ewa Kobylinska-Dehe in cooperation with Prof. Paweł Dybel, Pedagogical University of Krakow
Financed by: Alexander von Humboldt Foundation

2015–2019 / Project Heads: Prof. (PAN) Dr. habil. Ewa Kobylinska-Dehe, Prof. Paweł Dybel


Project Description

The aim of the project is to research the "forgotten" history of psychoanalysis in Poland. Not only is the tradition of thinking in psychoanalysis due to influxes from the history of ideas, it is also situated in differing cultural contexts. When one studies the unique character of psychoanalysis in Poland, one encounters an almost rhizomatic complexity here of Polish, German and Jewish cultures and self-images, whose interdependencies engender their own specific cultural space, which is infused with numerous differences and fault lines. The task of the project is to explore these differences, as indeed the convergences, and to link this to the search for common lines of tradition.

The history of psychoanalysis consists not only of the transfer of ideas, it is also conveyed by this transfer and is expressed materially in the diverse range of transfer practices, which we would like to take into consideration. Opening up the archives is not enough. History is being rewritten, and is rewriting itself. Freud discovered a new phenomenality which permitted him to unlock not only a de facto but also a potential archive, consisting of the "archaic" heritage, inscriptions, symptoms, metaphors, traces, revocations, repressions and deferred actions. And we would like to do justice to and satisfy each and every Freudian "mnemonics" in our historiography of Polish Psychoanalysis.

The intention with this interdisciplinary and international project is for it to be the first step in establishing long-term cooperation between the International Psychoanalytic University in Berlin and the Pedagogical University of Krakow, to integrate it into the teaching and to support and foster up-and-coming researchers and scientists. The project is to be conducted in the form of (a) archival research in Berlin, Warsaw, Krakow and New York, (b) interviews, (c) workshops with German and Polish participants, (d) talks and seminars, (e) expert conferences and symposia at the IPU and the Pedagogical University of Krakow, and, (f) publications.

The research work is to be separated into three research fields, which are each organised in differing thematic areas.

1. Research Field: Psychoanalysis in the Interspaces of the Cultures 1900–1939
1.1 Transculturality
1.2 German as the lingua latina of psychoanalysis
1.3 The Polish Jews in psychoanalysis
1.4 Freud in Yiddish
1.5 Psychoanalysis in Poland as a committed science
1.6 Psychoanalysis as the "promised land"?
1.7 The formative impact of psychoanalysis via literature on the Polish intelligentsia

2. Research Field: Psychoanalysis, War and the Holocaust in a German-Polish Context
2.1 Polish childhood, emigration and exile
2.2 No one left remaining in Poland
2.3 The Auschwitz Programme from Antoni Kepiński and the Department of Psychiatry in Krakow
2.4 Psychotherapeutic work with the second and third generation in the context of the "Children of the Holocaust" Association
2.5 Inability or impossibility to mourn?

3. Research Field: Psychoanalysis behind the Iron Curtain and after the Post-Communist Political Changes in Poland (1945–2015)
3.1 Psychoanalysis and Communism
3.2 Development after the political changes in 1989
3.3 Polish patients and their analysts – insights into the social and cultural processes of transformation in Poland in the context of psychotherapeutic practice