Homenaje a Paula Heimann

 

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Paula Heimann's 'quest for her own identity as a psychoanalyst: an introductory memoir
PEARL KING
(President of the British Psycho-Analytical Society 1982-1984)

I welcome the publication of these papers by Paula Heimann which have been put together by Margret Tonnesmann. Her introduction to the papers focuses on Paula Heimann 's theoretical and clinical approaches.to her work as a psychoanalyst and gives the reader a useful commentary on the development of her many contributions to psychoanalysis.

In this introductory memoir I have been asked to delineate her background and the events. that most influenced her writings and her contributions to psychoanalysis. I have drawn not only on my personal knowledge of Paula Heimann as a warm, encouraging, and creative colleague, but also on information which she gave me when interviewed her in 1974 in the course of my researches into the history of the British Psycho-Analytical Society.

Paula Heimann was born in 1899 in Danzig and died in 1982 in London. Both her parents were Russian and they had four children. The third child, a girl, died, and then carne Paula. She always felt she had been conceived as a replacement for this child and that her mother was very depressed when she was born. She felt she had to comfort and look after her mother most of her childhood. Her mother was, however, very appreciative and grateful to her daughter for her support. This family situation is important in the context of her later analytic and extra-analytic experiences.

Paula Heimann did her medical and psychiatric training in a number of German universities, which was the practice in Germany at that time. During her medical training she married her husband, who was a specialist in internal medicine, and in 1925 their only daughter, Mirza, was born. They finally settled in Berlin. There she became interested in treating psychiatric patients, and then a I colleague asked her why she did not think of training as a psychoanalyst. She applied to do so in 1928 and she was interviewed and accepted by Max Eitingon, President of the Berlin Society. He sent her to Theodor Reik for analysis, who had recently moved from Vienna. Her teachers included Fenichel, Hanns Sachs, Franz Alexander, Karen Horney, and Rado. She was critical of the approach of some of the analysts in Berlin, as she felt they underemphasized the role of aggression and the importance of the death instinct. In 1932 she qualified as an Associate Member of the Berlin Psycho-Analytical Society. When Hitler carne to power in Germany in 1933, Ernest Jones wrote to Eitingon in Berlin to offer to help any of the Jewish psychoanalysts who felt threatened, and invited them to come to London. Paula was warmly recommended by Eitingon, who had a soft spot for her as they both came from a Russian family background.. About this time, Paula 's husband got a job in Switzerland and he left quickly, as his left-wing interests had put him in especial danger from the Nazis. While Paula was considering whether or not to come to London (the Swiss Government would not give her and her daughter, Mirza, a visa to join her husband), the Reichstag fire took place, and someone tried to implicate her, on the grounds that a party she gave in their flat was a celebration of the success of that fire. The police arrived and arrested her while she was seeing a patient and took her off for questioning. They removed many of her books, but eventually the charges were withdrawly. It was enough to make her see that her life was in danger in Berlin. She left for London as soon as she could obtain a visa, with another psychoanalyst, Kate Friedlander, and her daughter was looked after by a Roman Catholic family until she could find somewhere to be with her in London. It was obvious that she could not return to Germany to fetch her, so an Aryan friend collected Mirza and brought her to London. Paula and her colleague were given visas to practise psychoanalysis in the East End, at that time a very poor district. So they booked into a guest-house and started their search for a consulting room in that area, for visas were only given to refugees to work in areas where they would not endanger the jobs of other residents in Britain; hence the designation "East End". On their visas. Eventually they found somewhere to start work, but their patients kept complaining about being watched. At first they thought they had several paranoid patients, but when they compared notes with each other, it became obvious that their consulting rooms were part of a brothel and that the 'madam' who ran the place checked up on their patients as they carne and went. They were then able to move into the West Central area of London, which proved more appropriate.

Paula had arrived in London in July 1933 and as it was a holiday period it was some time before she met any analysts. Jones gave her a list of those on whom she should pay courtesy calls and this included Melanie Klein. In November 1933 she was elected an Associate Member of the British Society. She found the Scientific Meetings much more stiff and formal than those she had attended in Berlin. She described to me how Melanie Klein, Joan Riviere, and Susan Isaacs used to sit in the front row, and it was obvious that Melanie Klein was at that time very highly regarded by most people in the British Society. She said that there were two couples who were good to her when she arrived: Melitta and Walter Schmideberg, Melanie Klein's daughter and son-in-law, who were both psychoanalysts whom she had known in the Berlin Society; and Helen and William Gillespie, whom she met for the first time when she carne to London.

In April 1934 Jones announced that Melanie Klein 's elder son had through Walter Schmideberg, Melanie Klein's son-in-law, a message that she would like Paula to visit her. Paula had seen Melanie Klein at the Wiesbaden Congress in 1932 and was in sympathy with the emphasis that Melanie Klein placed on the role of aggression and the death instinct. Paula told me, 'Of course I did visit her, and she was distraught, naturally. ' Melanie Klein told her many things about herself, not connected with her bereavement. Paula had asked her why she had turned to her, Paula -a stranger - and not to one other English friends, like Joan Riviere. The English were too alien, and anyhow they could not speak German, Melanie Klein had replied. Paula Heimann said she had responded to her need, and at her wish she visited her regularly. When Melanie Klein decided one morning to make use of some of her experiences of dealing with her mourning for her son 's death, and to write a paper, Paula offered to act as her secretary. As time went on Melanie Klein recovered from her bereavement. She must also have become aware of Paula 's need for help, for at this time her marriage had broken down, she lived in emotional isolation with no close friends, and was very insecure economically, as well as having to cope with being a refugee and being cut off from her former friends and relationships in Germany. One day Melanie Klein interpreted to Paula that she thought she wished to have analysis with her, but Paula said she couldn't possibly pay for it. Melanie replied that she would reduce her fees. She went on to say that she would not have a vacancy, anyhow, for another year. They continued their social relations together, going out for picnics with the Schmidebergs. Paula asked Melitta, Melanie Klein 's daughter, if she minded her going into analysis with her mother and Melitta replied that she had thought that this would happen. Paula said that she hoped it would not spoil their relationship, but she told me later that it had. After visiting her previous analyst, Theodor Relk, in Holland, Paula decided she would accept Melanie Klein's offer and told her so.

In the years between 1933 and 1939 Paula Heimann regularly attended Scientific Meetings but made only a few contributions to the scientific discussions. She was, however, busy and not only learning English. Jones had insisted that she obtain her British medical qualifications, which she finally managed to do at Edinburgh University in 1938. She said that she was later very grateful to Jones for making her do it, but that at the time, as she was very short of money, it was difficult for her.

During this period Walter and Melitta Schmideberg had become increasingly critical of Melanie Klein's point of view and they were supported by Edward Glover and Barbara Low in particular, in the British Society. In 1938 when a number of the Viennese analysts also joined the Society, opposition to Melanie Klein was becoming much more powerful, and a real threat to her. It was in this context in 1939 that. Paula Heimann read her membership paper on 'A contribution to the problem of sublimation' (which was later published in an extended form under the title 'A contribution to the problem of sublimation and its relation to the processes of internalization' (Heimann 1942)). She was elected a Full Member in that year, and in 1940 she was recognized as a Control Analyst empowered to undertake the supervision of candidates. It was not, however, until 1944 that she was recognized as a Training Analyst, and in 1945 she had her first training candidate. It should be remembered, however, that it was between 1941 and 1944 that the intensive discussions took place about the validity of Melanie Klein's theories and her contribution to psychoanalysis, and in particular, whether or not those who followed her point of view should take part in the training and teaching of candidates.

When the controversies about Melanie Klein's approach came to a head, it was decided to ask Melanie Klein to present her theories to the society in a series of papers which could then be commented on in written statements by members. Melanie Klein decided there should be four papers and that Susan Isaacs, Paula Heimann, and herself should write them. Paula objected on the grounds that she was too junior, but was overruled. They met together and Melanie Klein tried to dictate what they should each say, but Susan Isaacs rebelled and said that she did not work like that. Paula Heimann who was still in analysis with Melanie Kllein, was less able to object although she was allowed later to take her draft home to revise it. Paula found this experience very difficult. However, she said that she felt supported by Susan Isaacs, with whom she wrote one of the four papers. The ten Scientific Meetings that followed are now known as the 'Controversial Discussions' (King and Steiner forthcoming).

After these discussions and the reorganization of the Society's training into courses A and B, Paula Heimann started taking a more active part in training and in the scientific life of the Society. I do not know when she finally stopped going to Melanie Klein for analysis, but I have the impression that it was not continuous and that she went back from time to time for additional help. Paula appreciated her own need for analytic help and was grateful for what she got from her analysis during the difficult period leading up the war .What made her uncomfortable,.was that Melanie Klein told her, later on, not to let anyone know that she was still in analysis with her .This meant that she was placed in a position of divided loyalties between Melanie Klein and her own integrity and feeling for truth. It is now easy for us to be aware of the pressures on Melanie Klein, for we know that one of the accusations that Glover and others made of the Kleinians was that, by keeping colleagues in analysis, they influenced how they were behaving in the Society, and at this time Melanie Klein must have felt that she was fighting for the survival of her ideas and contributions to psychoanalysis.

My first encounter with Paula Heimann was when I was a student in the late 1940´s. She was taking a seminar on Freud's papers on technique, and she had asked me to summarize the main points in his paper 'Recommendations to physicians practising psychoanalysis'. When I carne to the recommendation that analysts should take as a model 'the surgeon, who puts aside all his own feelings, even his human sympathy, and concentrates his mental forces on the single aim of performing the operation as skilfully as possible' (Freud 1912e: 115), Paula Heimann, to my surprise, strongly disagreed with Freud's emphatic recommendation. She formulated her point of view later in her paper entitled 'On counter-transference', which she read in 1949 at the 16th International Psycho-Analytical Congress in Zurich, which I also attended. In this paper she stated, 'My thesis is that the analyst's emotional response to his patient within the analytical situation represents one of the most important tools for his work. The analyst's counter-transference is an instrument of research into the patient´s unconscious' (Heimann 1950). She continued "This rapport on the deep level, comes to the surface In the form of feelings, which the analyst notices in response to his patients, in his counter-transference"

To those of us who were her students she had given sanction to make use of a whole range of our affective capacities, which we had previously considered should be taboo. It was now possible to draw on these sources of data to help discover not only how our patients were using us and what figures. from the past were being projected on to us, but also to explore the subtle distortions which take place in the interplay between phantasy and reality, delusion and despair, as patients attempt to come to terms with both their good and bad experiences with their actual parents, and the psychic elaboration of these experiences. Paula Heimann 's point of view is now widely accepted, but when she first formulated it, many psychoanalysts considered it heresy. It was only later that I learned from Paula that Melanie Klein had been angry about this paper and had tried to persuade her to withdraw it, on the grounds that Willi Hoffer disliked it. Ernest Jones, however, congratulated her on it and she refused to rescind her point of view. Indeed, the approach she described in this and other papers has since been an inspiration to many younger analysts, including Kleinians, in their later work.

At this time, we regarded Paula Heimann as Melanie Klein´s 'crown princess', and it was often Paula who would get up at Scientific Meetings and put the Kleinian point of view, giving either a blessing, or a rebuke, or a lecture, according to the scientific stance of the presenter. Not that her contributions went unchanenged by others, but whether one agreed with them or not, they always contained food for thought.

During this period, the training activities of the British Psycho-Analytical Society were orchestrated by the Training Secretary, who was elected by the Members and who had a seat on the Council.

They had previously been drawn from the Middle Group. In July 1954, it was decided to nominate two Joint Training Secretaries, one from the Kleinian group and one from the 'B' group. Paula Heimann and Hedwig Hoffer agreed to stand together and they were elected. It was not Paula 's first experience on the Training Committee; she had been a member of it since 1949. Sylvia Payne was, I believe, the architect of this experiment, and she told me she was pleased with the way they had both worked together. As I was invited, in 1955, to take part in the training scheme, and started my first analysis of a candidate while they were in office, I can vouch for the helpful way they supported me and worked together.
In that year a committee was set up to arrange the activities .to mark the centenary of Freud's birth, with Sylvia Payne, the President, as chairman, myself as secretary, and which included Paula Heimann and Hedwig Hoffer. I then had to work closely with Paula, and I noticed how she was becoming more at home working in a mixed group setting and not having to put forward or follow a particular point of view; that is, working for the Society as a whole, rather than feeling she had her prestige and authority from only one section of it.

In 1955 at the Geneva Congress Paula read her paper on the 'Dynamics of transference interpretations' (Heimann 1956), which was well received, and to many of us it appeared as a fairly orthodox and useful formulation of a Kleinian approach to the concept of transference. It was also at this congress that Melanie Klein first read her paper ' A study of envy and gratitude', but it was not published along with the other congress papers in 1956. In February 1956 Melanie Klein read an expanded version of her paper to the British Psycho-Analytical Society. The original version has recently been published for the first time in a selection other papers edited by Juliet Mitchell (Klein 1956).

In the months that followed, it gradually became clear that Paula Heimann was parting company with Melanie Klein and her group. At Melanie Klein's request she resigned from the Melanie Klein Trust in November 1955, and then she made a statement to the Society that she no longer wished to be considered a member of the Klein group. I remember Sylvia Payne telling me, in December 1955, while we were clearing up after a life painting class which used to take place in her consulting room in the evenings, that Paula was no longer a Kleinian. It is difficult to convey the sense of shock we younger analysts experienced at this news and its repercussions in the Society. A number of leading analysts had left Melanie Klein's group in the past, including John Rickman, Donald Winnicott, and Clifford Scott (her first candidate), but none had appeared so staunch in her support, at least in our eyes, as Paula Heimann. At the time of the previous defections, the Klein group was only loosely organized and existed as an integral part of Course A (as contrasted with Course B -Miss Freud's group), so that candidates in analysis with these defectors were not called upon to decide to which group they wanted to belong. By the time Paula decided to withdraw, Melanie Klein had managed to delineate her supporters more sharply, so that any candidate in analysis with Paula Heimann would be unacceptable as a member of the Klein group. I understand that Paula herself did not want any of her candidates, who remained with her, to consider themselves as members of the Klein group. This rift was reinforced when, in February 1956, 'the Training Committee agreed to Mrs Klein's suggestion that six seminars be given by Dr Jacques in place of Dr Heimann ...' and 'that four seminars be given by Dr Segal instead of Dr Heimann', two colleagues who, Mrs Klein thought, would more accurately reflect her views.

Sylvia Payne had suggested that Paula should write a paper giving an account of her differences with Melanie Klein, but Paula told me that she had felt too traumatized to do so, at that point. Paula Heimann became an enthusiastic member of the group of non-aligned analysts of the Society, who are now called, at her original suggestion, I believe, 'Independents', and she continued to play an important role in the Society until her death. However, the rift between her and Melanie Klein never healed, and Psychoanalysis was, I think, the poorer because of it.

When discussing this period with me Paula said that she felt that one of the many reasons why Melanie Klein was so angry about her paper 'On Counter-transference' was that she had written it by herself and had not showed it to Melanie Klein prior to reading it. It was her first gesture of freedom and assertion of her own creativity. She herself gave the date 1949 as the beginning of her split from Melanie Klein.

The final split, which came after the Geneva Congress in 1955, was when Paula realized that she profoundly disagreed with Melanie Klein 's theory of inborn envy, although she still agreed with Freud 's concept of the death instinct. I think she was enabled to make the final break because she was by then supported by her own experience of being valued by many colleagues for herself and not because she was a member of a group. In describing some of the things that went wrong in her psychoanalysis with Melanie Klein, Paula commented to me that she could not remember Melanie Klein interpreting the transference link between herself- that is Melanie Klein -depressed at the loss of her own child, and Paula Heimann 's mother, depressed at the loss of Paula 's older sibling. Paula realized later that she had attempted to look after Melanie Klein, as a repetition of the way in which she had behaved towards her own mother, who had so admired Paula 's capacity to do so. Perhaps with hindsight we can be aware also of Melanie Klein's need to have a replacement for her own daughter, Melitta, who was also a psychoanalyst, and who had by

1935 become really alienated from her, with someone who would be more satisfactory to her and support and value her theories. Paula herself was very aware of the fact that she was herself a replacement for her mother's own lost elder daughter.

After leaving the Klein group, Paula Heimann was much in demand as a Training Analyst and as a Supervisor, and she Continued to play an important role in the training ofpsychoanalysts. She went on to publish twenty-five articles, short communications, and critical reviews, and she read papers in a number of other countries, including Germany, France, and Italy, and in North and South America. Some of these have not previously been published or been available in English, in spite of repeated requests, so that this collection of her papers has been long awaited.

In the course of writing about Paula Heimann, I have come to realize again how courageous was her struggle to achieve her right to her own way of understanding psychoanalysis and her quest for her own identity as a psychoanalyst and a human being. I know that she did realize that many of her colleagues supported her in this difficult task, and I believe that many psychoanalysts have been encouraged by her example to work out their own way ofunderstanding psycho-analysis and their right to their own identity as a psychoanalyst, while being firmly rooted in Freud's classical contributions.

Pearl H. M. King, January 1989

 
   
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