After a long, difficult illness, IPU senior professor Prof Dr. Dr. Horst Kächele passed away on Sunday, June 20, 2020. He had held a professorship in research methods (and since 2019, a senior professorship) at IPU since its founding ten years ago. He also made significant contributions to the establishment and development of our university, especially in empirical research and internationalization.
From his passing, we have lost a pioneer of empirical psychotherapy research in psychoanalysis, as well as a passionately dedicated, solidary colleague and warm-hearted friend. He distinguished himself by both listening patiently to bachelor students and then arguing with prominent colleagues at renowned symposiums for the scientific nature of Psychoanalysis.
The empirical exploration of analytic therapy was particularly close to his heart, and because of this, he founded the Ulm workshop for empirical research during the time of his own psychoanalytic training in the 1970s. From 1990-2009, he had a teaching position for psychotherapy at the Clinic for Psychosomatic Medicine and Psychotherapy at Ulm University, where he was also medical director from 1997 on.
Together with his predecessor at Ulm University, Helmut Thomä, he shared the conviction that psychoanalytical hypotheses must be defended empirically. This has inspired passionate controversies in the psychoanalytic community for decades. Since that time, a consensus on the necessity of empirical clinical research has formed within institutionalized psychoanalysis, which is also thanks to Horst Kächele's unfailing commitment.
Horst Kächele gained widespread national and international recognition through his research projects and publications, and his two-volume Textbook of Psychoanalytical Therapy and Practice has become an international standard and has been translated into more than 23 languages. Up to the end of his life, he was working on a revision of the second volume and a translation into English, which will soon be released by the Psychosozial Publishing Group. Horst Kächele also won numerous prizes; among them, the renowned Sigmund Freud Prize for Psychotherapy in 2002, known as the "Nobel Prize for Psychoanalysis," and the Mary S. Sigourney Award from the International Psychoanalytic Association in 2004.
In many ways, he allowed our university to share in his influential, worldwide contacts. In this way, he supported the work of the International Office at IPU. He also served as the International Commission's chairman, and provided a wealth of ideas. He managed to inspire and enrich instructors and students from the IPU-Balkan network "Social Trauma" with his workshops, seminars, discussions, and lectures in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia, Bulgaria, and Turkey. Until his passing, he served as the secretary of the International Advisory Board at IPU, and in the 1990s, he was the president of the Society for Psychotherapy Research and supported the establishment of therapy research in Latin America. Additionally, he was passionately engaged in supporting clinical psychoanalysis in the former Soviet Union, Eastern Europe, and China.
As a dedicated teacher, he generously supported students and young scientists. His seminars on psychotherapy research methods were riddled with rich stories from his research experiences, and of course with an overwhelming amount of knowledge, humor, and clinical wisdom.
We are immensely thankful that Horst Kächele shared his time, his amazingly youthful spirit, his vast knowledge, and his touching humanity with us. Horst, you will be missed!
We would like to thank Michael Buchholz, Tamara Fischmann, Carmen Scher and Marianne Leuzinger-Bohleber for their support with this obituary.
when I received the message about your passing, I couldn't help but think of the poem by Gottfried Benn, which I had had printed almost exactly three years ago in my husband's obituary, which I had also sent to you. It is called "Last Spring".
Take the forsythias deep inside you
And when the lilac comes, mix this too
With your blood and joy and misery,
The dark ground you rely upon.
Slowly passing days. It is all overcome.
And don't you ask about ends or beginnings,
For then the hours may carry you
On until June to join the roses.
Gottfried Benn (1954)
(translation by Tara Loeber)
You called me up afterwards and referred to the poem. "Every person," you said naturally, "has a last Spring". Three years later, at almost the same time, the Spring came to an end for you as well. I am tremendously sad about this, and at least in this way, wish to tell you what you meant to me right up to the end. There are two memories that come to mind immediately. The first has to do with your reaction to my lecture about the psychodynamic aspects of hysteria at the DGPT conference in 2007 in Lindau, and the second is of our 2014 trip to Tehran with IPU students and my husband to attend the first Psychoanalytic Congress there, to which you were invited.
My lecture on "Sexuality as inner theater. On the psychodynamics of hysteria" at the DGPT conference in Lindau concentrated primarily on the refusal by hysterical patients to take the last step in triangulation, and preferring to remain on the border between the maternal and paternal world in order to keep all possibilities open. The audience was definitely impressed by the lecture until you, dear Horst, piped up from the very first row, and, after giving the traditional recognition for the interesting talk, raised the "Gretchen question" and put practically everything I had said in question. Your question was, why had I disregarded attachment theory, which plays a prominent role exactly in the development of hysteria. It was immediately clear to me that you were right, even if my lecture was about something completely different to me. I definitely should have at least mentioned the biases in my lecture. Thank God I was able to suppress the impulse to apologize for it just in time. Instead, I explained that the significance of attachment theory for hysterical development was familiar to me, that I wanted to leave a deeper discussion on it to other colleagues who were better versed in it than I, and that I would have thought of you before anyone else. The audience reacted to that with visibly relieved laughter, and I had the feeling that this answer made us even, and that from then on we would be able to meet on eye level. This hadn't always been the case until then, and afterwards, at least from my view, a tight bond developed from then on.
A few years later, when you spontaneously agreed to work at the then-newly-founded psychoanalytic university in Berlin (IPU), I saw it as a downright stroke of luck. I sometimes think back on the evenings in the IPU Cafeteria, where we sat together before the official opening, to contemplate the possibilities of making a psychoanalytic college, and you made the suggestion that we establish psychoanalytic dream research as a research focus at the IPU, which I very much would have liked. And you were just as dedicated later on in contributing to the establishment of psychotherapy research, which is in the foreground today. In the long time since, in which you have taught and gotten more research projects on their way, I have experienced you as a psychoanalytic teacher and researcher of the highest caliber, who was always available when needed and who always had answers to questions from students. The International Advisory Board at IPU, with such prominent psychoanalytic researchers as Peter Fonagy, Otto F. Kernberg, Rolf Sandell, David Tuckett, Sverre Varvin, and Marianne Leuzinger-Bohleber, which you launched at IPU in 2014 in a matter of days, shortly before the first visit from the German Council of Science and Humanities (Wissenschaftsrat), is not just an important showpiece for IPU; it has also opened up a multitude of new research opportunities, which have constantly been built upon in the years since. At the same time, and with a familiar determination, you worked on the updates to your and Helmut Thomä's 1985 three-volume standard work, "Textbook of Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy", which has been translated into eleven languages in the meantime and has given entrance to psychoanalysis in countries and cultures, for whom psychoanalysis was alien until that point. Together with IPU students, you repeatedly traveled to these places in order to continually advance this project. One of these, which I will speak about, is Iran.
Interacting with you was also somehow always something special for me. After the founding of IPU, if I wanted to ask your advice on an organizational question here and there, we would often meet at the airport you had just arrived at or were about to fly out of, but also in the Café Buchwald on the Spree, which was more comfortable for me. Sometimes, when I was relaxing and enjoying the hot summer afternoons in a neighborhood café, I could also unexpectedly run into you with your students where you were all out for an ice cream and still teaching, as if such a scene change were the most normal thing in the world. That's just how you were--always with new ideas, and often combative in accomplishing them, and thereby turning away all psychoanalytic indoctrinations. And you were always prepared to help if someone turned to you for advice. The theatrical performance of Lena Amende's master thesis on the psychoanalytic perspective of "Amalie", for which you were the advisor, and which was held in a Berlin theater rented especially for that purpose, is a lasting memory for me.
I will also never forget how one day while having lunch together, you invited me to travel with you and a group of IPU students to Tehran and visit their inaugural psychoanalytic conference, where you had been invited to speak. When I asked, you also agreed that I could bring my husband as well, who was a psychiatrist and psychoanalyst like yourself. What came of that were lasting memories first of Tehran, and then of northern Iran, where religion has such a large role in public life that even the psychoanalytic conference in Tehran was opened with a prayer to Allah and a surah from the Qur'an. We even learned from private conversations with our Persian colleagues how constricting the political control over them was. The approachable and hospitable nature of the Persian colleagues who invited us to stay with them showed us Persia from a completely different perspective.
In the many conversations my husband and I had with you and your students during this trip, the conversation somehow turned to our holiday home in Berkhof, and I talked about how I hosted several psychodrama workshops there during my time as a professor in Frankfurt, and there are still many who speak fondly of them. My words apparently had such a compelling effect, that by the end of the trip, the students expressed as a group that they would like to see this house for themselves. My husband and I agreed with this, and invited all the members of the Tehran trip to a weekend at our house in Berkhof. It was an unforgettable weekend, not just with the students, but also especially with you, dear Horst, with lots of good food and new topics of discussion, in which you addressed the students' questions and shared information from your own many years of experience without pretense. I had reserved you a room in a nearby hotel according to your status, whereas the students slept on various couches and air mattresses, but the longer the evening went on, the less you wanted to hear of it. Ultimately, you spent the night in our holiday house in the bed that had been my then-twelve-year-old son's, which was much too short, and which we hadn't yet gotten rid of. You didn't seem to mind this at all though, and the next morning you seemed just as rested as always. When I called you two months later to wish you a merry Christmas, you told me on the phone that getting to know me and then my husband was the best travel experience you had had. Hearing something like that from you isn't something one forgets quickly.
In 2014, your wife Beate became very sick, and when you both thought the sickness was past, your pains while walking intensified until the point when we only saw you walking with a cane--as always, confident and competing with the passage of time, and still available to the IPU. That I, as the founder, had the opportunity to financially support the filming of "Amelie" to such an extent that it was almost finished just before your death, and that it could be shown to you in that form was, for me, like the last bouquet of flowers that I could give you.
And then, after a long and difficult sickness, which you bore with great bravery, death won over in the end. Three days before your death, you called me again unexpectedly and said to me, short and concise as always, thank you for bringing you to the IPU and making room for you to continue working there for the next eleven years with all that you had to offer to research and teaching within psychoanalysis, and a space to pass on your knowledge to the students there. It was clear to me that this would be our last conversation, even though we didn't speak of it--short and to the point, and yet, extremely touching.
For my part, with this obituary, I would like to thank you, dear Horst, for everything, for what you did for IPU, and for the experiences I had with you during this time, and for being a professional and human role model for me. All that you have done for IPU will remain and continue to bear fruit. I am convinced of that.
I will miss you very much.
On June 28th, midday at 1:30pm, our friend and Colleague, Prof. Dr. Dr. Horst Kächele passed away in Ulm in the company of his wife Beate, who is also ill, and surrounded by his family. One must add that he passed away after a long period of suffering. It was time that he spent in revising the new edition of the "Ulm Textbook" with admirable fortitude; laying in bed, computer on his lap. A paragon of dedication to the lifelong pursuit of helping to keep psychoanalysis up to date. The three volumes of the Ulm Textbook, which have been translated and republished into more than 20 world languages since 1985, will also be a beacon for former historians of psychoanalysis. They are already beacons for clinicians.
In fact, there was and is hardly anyone, who knew so broadly about the many theoretical and clinical branches of long-standing, highly interesting discussions. Or who established such rich connections to the neighboring sciences (especially infant research, but also literature, neurosciences, social research and philosophy), through which he could consistently speak from first hand experience. Simply, he knew God and the psychoanalytic world, internationally and as wide as the heavens.
It's no wonder, since he, who was reading Freud at the age of 17, described himself amusedly as an "early starter" and already had long roads behind him when others were just beginning.
The way in which Horst introduced invited lecturers at many IPU-organized congresses was influenced by this. He avoided formally reading off this and that about what someone had published. Instead, he obviously enjoyed describing the greats according to his personal experiences, and did so with warmth and charm. At the same time, he kept an inimitable, ironic distance, through which he could also enjoy being in their vicinity for himself--and one really had to chuckle at this variation of "Apud Sanctos." Apud Sanctos--that is the established name for those who wanted to be buried in or near the church in order to be "by the saints." That certainly did not hinder him from using the best psychoanalytical courtesy, namely with disrespectful respect, to make his strong voice heard, and to intervene in and sometimes intensely stir up discussions, which had become shallow. Whoever was shocked on first impression quickly recognized the distinct value of this bold interruption of false thoughtfulness.
Horst the researcher sometimes had to fight with the rumors that he "wasn't a clinician." Well, anyone who has heard audio recordings of the sessions he made available to researchers or used in seminars (always with permission) would have to wonder. Horst was a first-rate clinician with finesse, an artful command of language, cleverness, and tact. He distanced himself from "Emo-Talk," which has pushed itself into the public eye as part of the Zeitgeist, and which can only suggest depth. It was too flat for him. It is also true; anyone who had teachers, colleagues, and friends like Helmut Thomä, or Lester Luborsky and Merton Gill, would know about what happens in the room, how to grapple with it, and how to be helpful for one's patients. Everyone who knew him could see it. He was dedicated to his patients, because he loved the psychoanalysis that had to stand the test of practice.
In addition to the psychoanalytic world, he was engaged in the SPR (Society for Psychotherapy Research). He was one of the founders and helped steer it right from the start, and ultimately brought its expertise to Ulm. Since the unforgettable first "Ulm Workshop" in 1987, his name has been connected to psychotherapy research in Germany, and at the time, above all, to psychoanalysis. His merits in both research and psychoanalysis were rewarded with the Vienna Sigmund Freud Prize in 2002 and the APA Sigourney Award in 2004. Because he knew the practice of psychoanalysis is speaking and keeping silent, and for this purpose had been building the "Ulm Textbank" since the 1980s with Erhard Mergenthaler, he, who was a doctor in his sixties, completed yet another doctorate, of course also in psychology--naturally on themes of communication. For him, that was also a victory over the aging process.
It was clear that he wouldn't really be able to win that fight. Nevertheless, he continued to animate and exert himself--by supporting students at home and abroad, by editing his texts, and by joint composition of new publications and travels with doctoral students to Tehran, Moscow, Bucharest, Jerusalem, and Istanbul. A dedication to the cause that is rare to find.
We would like to honor him by missing him, by mourning him, and by following in his devotion to psychoanalysis and science. If we are aware of this, it will lessen the pain: Horst, you will be missed!
(Prof. Dr. Michael B Buchholz, Berlin/Göttingen)
With a party at Beate and Horst Kächele's home in Ulm in 1980, the workshop for empirical therapy research came to an end. Horst put a volume of Carl Loewe songs on the piano and opened with a song titled The Clock [Die Uhr]. I was quite moved by the party's high spirits and impressed by the dedicated, critical, and never dogmatic discourse of the research workshop. The subsequent hospitality from Beate and Horst--socializing in their home in Ulm with music and entertainment--was in accordance with the scientific debates that were had during the research workshop.
And now, when I received the news of Horst's death on Sunday, June 28th, I thought again of the first evening in Ulm. The poem by Johann Seidl, set to music by Carl Loewe, begins with the line: Wherever I go, I carry always a clock with me [Ich trage, wo ich gehe, stets eine Uhr bei mir], and in the end it says of the master, who made the clock and of the regular ticking of the clock: Look sir, I have spoilt nothing, it stopped on its own [Sieh, Herr, ich hab nichts verdorben, sie blieb von selber stehn]. It follows, that one would then think of the regularly-thumping heart, which in Horst has now ceased to beat.
In 2014, Beate became very sick, but she recovered, and could attend an event at IPU with Horst and socialize with others afterwards. It was then a great surprise to all that Horst became so ill in 2019, and surely caused great pain in Beate, their daughters, and grandchildren--all of whom have my sympathy.
The story in the Loewe song of the regularly-ticking clock which stops at the end always represented the pressure of time for Horst. Everything had to do with time and using it well. And that always served Horst well. I think sadly about the fact that his heart, and thus his commitment and devotion to psychotherapy research, is now still.
After this first research workshop I attended in Ulm, we remained in contact. I was inspired by the empirical psychotherapy research, to which Thomä and Kächele introduced me, and I began by creating audio recordings of an analysis. After meeting Hartwig Dahl, Merton Gill, and Lester Luborsky in Ulm in 1985, I formed a team that was preparing to evaluate the transcripts according to the central relationship conflict procedure (ZBKT, Luborsky). In 1993, there was a transcript of the 290th hour of analysis that I had recorded, which formed the basis for an Ulm research workshop.
The process research that I came across through the Ulm workshop confronted the psychoanalytic theories of transference, working alliances, and the therapeutic process with the concrete reality of therapy. It then investigated how changes could be possible. Horst was not "holy" about the domination of psychoanalytic concepts. For him, it did not have to do with the "true, psychoanalytic process". He searched for a connection between theory and method, or, as Gottfried Fischer stated, for the convergence of logic and empiricism. Through this process research, factors were meant to be discovered which could support therapy and affect change; however, in this investigative approach, we also found factors that were harmful rather than supportive. In response to this, Horst pleaded clearly for an error culture. He pointed out shortcomings in psychoanalytic concepts and thereby criticized the prevailing theories on childhood and myth-making as projections from adult life onto child development. He spoke of the adultomorphic myth, according to which, children are like us adults; of the theoretomorphic myth, according to which, children as our theories construct them, and of the pathomorphic myth, in which children think and feel similarly to psychotic patients. His conclusion was: These three myths should be burried (Thomä and Kächele, 2020, p. 88).
Horst Kächele pleaded with dedication for the integration of the much-maligned infant observers, and Fonagy's mentalization and attachment research into the educational cannon. To him, engaging with the real, observed child--within his/her development and in interactions with parents and the environment--were a requirement for an adequate understanding of patterns of experience within the transmission of psychotherapy.
Another margin of error that he saw was in overvaluing the psychoanalytical setting and its classical technique, which was tied to an underestimation of harmful effects: lack of feedback and empathy as well as the use of concepts based on subsumed logic. He pointed out the therapists' function of self-stabilizing through their theoretical preferences and the tradition-conscious justification of this "classical" method, which was highly prevalent for many years. He understood the error culture to which he aspired as a matter for therapists, thereby freeing patients from frequently negative judgements, and that it was up to them if an analysis was unsuccessful.
In addition to this critical position on classical analysis, I was connected to Horst through interest in dreams and dreaming. The documentation of and research on dream series opened up another entrance into therapeutic processes. We were in agreement that Ulrich Moser and Ilka von Zeppelin's contemporary model of cognitive affect regulation while dreaming would be best suited for therapy process research. (Zurich Dream Process Coding System).
Starting in 2009, with the opening of the International Psychoanalytic University (IPU) Berlin, our work together intensified. I could talk with him about my intention of opening a research outpatient clinic at the university, and I am thankful to him for the various suggestions for the research workshop started in 2012, which was based on the Ulm workshop as its predecessor and inspiration.
The founding of the IPU allowed Horst Kächele the ability to strengthen his influence on a critical structuring of and change in psychodynamic psychotherapy and the construction of its theories. Whenever he had the time, he attended the weekly case conferences of the university research outpatient clinic and did not hold back on expressing his interest, logical interpretations, as well as study and literature suggestions which he quickly sent by email afterwards.
This time was a high for him. He never looked demonstratively at the clock, but he was always in some kind of a hurry, especially on the telephone. Right until the end, he was working on the second volume of Thomä and Kächele's English republication. In the first volume of the English edition, which was published at the beginning of this year, Christa Rohde-Dachser expressed her joy that this book had found a new home at IPU, since a series of professors had contributed to the revision of the earlier edition, and the work was opportunely released at the same time that the English master of psychology program began.
It is a loss for all who knew him in his generous way, that we can no longer ask him questions. But we can ask ourselves how he might have answered our questions, and in many ways, his books and journal publications provide us the answers we seek.
Horst was not vain. He hardly ever came across as resentful or superior. If, for example, someone couldn't come to his lecture, he took it with good humor, saying that every person is making "his or her own show" anyway. Whether he knew it or not, he provided help to many in finding their own ways through the always growing and changing field of psychodynamic psychotherapy and research. With that said, he stands for a professional and academic way of achieving knowledge of change through psychoanalysis, and that one must also be prepared to change psychoanalysis itself--in theory, practice, research, and education. Horst's critical appreciation of psychoanalysis is paradigmatic--and sets an example. He was noble, generous, and tacitly acted according to the ethos: whoever has much, has much to give.
When I think back on you and us, I remember your passion for discovery, your love of research, and our travels together.
The first trip took us to my homeland of Iran in the Autumn of 2014. In April of the same year, I had started my bachelor studies at IPU, and I was a rookie still finding his feet. Lena Amende, a friend from the master’s program, told me about the trip to Teheran for its first international psychoanalytic conference, and that you had been invited to speak there. In the same conversation, she also told me that all the spots on the trip were already filled.
The role of psychoanalysis in my homeland was, however, so interesting to me that I at least wanted to ask you if I could come along, and though we hadn’t met yet, I wrote you an email to ask. I have to admit, I put a ton of effort into that first email to you, so as to make a good impression. I emphasized my motivation and mastery of the Persian language in order to increase my chances of joining the trip. After about half an hour, including the time it took to check that my use of capital letters was adequate, I finally sent you the email. What followed then baffled me at first, but then made itself known over time as one of your endearing character traits. Because not only did I receive your answer within two minutes, it was short and succinctly the following text: “super. you’re in. Hk”. That is how I always saw you. Active, open, short, brief, and effective and accessible—above all, for your students.
Then you expressed the wish that you wanted to travel to the north of Iran after the congress and “assigned” me with the organization. From that, I had the fortune of quickly integrating myself into the group of travelers from the IPU as well as getting to know you better. We had the added luck that Christa Rohde-Dachser and her husband Wolfgang were also traveling with us. I fondly remember that trip and the acquaintances with all of you that it provided. I learned a great amount from you all. With your critical curiosity, warmth, humanity, and sincerity, you and Christa became role models for me.
During the preparation phase, we were in email contact almost daily and were able to organize more spaces for students to travel with us through the congress organizers. We only met each other for the first time in person at a traditional restaurant in Teheran, to which we had been invited by the congress for a welcome meal. I have many wonderful memories from this trip, one of which I will never forget. When we spent the night in a motel at the Caspian Sea, I woke up early one morning to go for a walk on the beach, and it had never occurred to me that I would run into someone at that hour. Then I saw a silhouette coming towards me. After a while I recognized that it was you. Slowly we neared one another until we were standing, looking right at each other. Your blue eyes were beaming, and one could literally feel your joie de vivre. Then, without saying a word, we simply hugged and laughed. That was a highly authentic and beautiful moment that I got to share with you. Thank you for that.
Another enjoyable moment was the one in the photo included here in the jungle of northern Iran. I asked you whether we could take a photo together, and you just replied: “wait a minute”. Then you put on the black hat that, while walking alone, you had bought earlier at the bazaar in Rasht by communicating with hands and feet. Then you casually leaned on my shoulder. “Ok. Now.” There are so many other memories from this trip and other moments with you that I could fill up many pages. It was instructive to see how open, interested, and respectful you were with authentic people, and at the same time you were critical towards know-it-alls. It also impressed me how creative you are and how you could and liked to connect psychoanalysis with many other disciplines.
When Lena performed a play about Amalie X for her master’s thesis in 2016, I saw your eyes beaming again. And so it happened that I turned to Amalie some years later when you came to my birthday in 2018 and were excitedly talking about this model example of psychoanalysis. For my master’s thesis, I discussed a transformation of this model case from a scientific perspective into a film perspective in the form of a script. Of course you were my first evaluator. In November 2019, just before finishing my thesis, when I learned that you were seriously ill, I decided to film my script to give you something special. Like always, it was wonderful to feel your contagious excitement. You quickly organized funding, and when I asked Christa for help, she immediately agreed to submit the project to the board of trustees of the Foundation for Promoting University Psychoanalysis. We received the funding and could begin.
Our last meeting in person was in your hometown of Ulm. Lena, Michael, and I visited you on the First Advent weekend, and we were surprised how well you were doing despite chemotherapy. Again, you were full of joy, and your daughter Lisa said that it was due to our visit. Of course, you confirmed that this was not a visit because you were sick, but rather that it was a work visit, and we worked constructively and successfully on the script for Amalie. Your openness for collaboration on the same level with us students constantly gave us the courage to evolve.
It moved me enormously when you unexpectedly said, during one of our last talks, that you found our film Amalie X terrific and that it fulfilled a 40-year-old life’s dream of yours. A short time later, you left us. In Iran there is a saying: “Someone is only dead when no one speaks of them anymore.” We are still speaking of you, and will always remember you fondly. I dedicated the film Amalie X to you, and have included it in the opening credits. You once said to me that it was too bad we couldn’t see the film in a theater with an audience because of Corona.
Our journey was bookended by first and last meetings that took place in the homelands of one another.
I hope to soon be able to realize the goal of a theater viewing, and will send our film Amalie X to national and international film festivals. And so, our journey continues, just in another form.