Schilder, Paul Ferdinand (1886-1940) (International Dictionary of Psychoanalysis)
The Austrian psychiatrist and psychoanalyst Paul Schilder was born in Vienna on February 2, 1886, and died in New York on December 7, 1940.
He was the son of Ferdinand Schilder, a Jewish silk merchant who died when he was three, and Berta Fürth, who favored him over his brother. He attended secondary school and received his medical training in Vienna. He became a medical doctor in 1909, but he also always maintained an interest in philosophy; he earned a doctorate in that field 1922 and in 1928 published Gedanken zur Naturphilosophie (Reflections on natural philosophy).
Schilder turned his attention toward neurology and psychiatry and became the assistant of Gabriel Anton in Halle, and later of Paul Flechsig in Leipzig. At this time he published an article on Encephalitis periaxalis diffusa (a syndrome that thereafter bore his name), that made him famous in the field of neurology from 1912. In 1914 he published Selbstbewusstein und Persönlichkeitsbewusstein. Eine psychopathologische Studie (Consciousness of self and personality: a psychological study), a work informed by Edmund Husserl's phenomenology, before serving as a doctor in the First World War. But it was Wahn und Erkenntnis. Eine psychopathologische Studie (Delusion and knowledge: A psychological study), published in 1922, that marked his first real approach to psychoanalysis, despite the fact that on March 22 Sigmund Freud wrote to Karl Abraham: "Today I receivedfter the Simmel monograph extracted from the Lewandowskysche Sammlung (notebook number 15): Delusion and knowledge by Paul Schilder (Leipzig), which, in its results, is already thoroughly analytical, and which only leaves aside, as is appropriate, the Oedipus complex. Of course, Sch. acts as if these gentlemen had discovered everything themselves, or almost everything. In short, this is how German clinicians are going to 'appropriate' our discoveries. All things considered, I vow, it is of no importance."
In fact, in 1919 Schilder was elected to membership in the Psychoanalytical Society of Vienna, and on March 7, 1920, he presented his first paper, on identification, there. During the same time, he became the assistant, at the Vienna Hospital, of Julius Wagner-Juaregg, who took a somewhat dim view of his interest in psychoanalysis. He was nevertheless appointed Privatdozent in 1921 and professor in 1925.
Although his booker das Wesen der Hypnose (On the nature of hypnosis) led Paul Federn to accuse him of plagiarism in 1922, Schilder's works were nonetheless known and recognized by Freud and psychoanalytic circles. In 1923 he began to elaborate his theory of "body image," an expression borrowed from the psychiatrists Arnold Pick and Henry Head, in Le Schéma corporel. Contributionà l'étude du corps propre (The corporeal schema: contribution to the study of the individual's own body). He developed Freud's suggestion that the ego is derived from bodily sensations (elaborated in Freud's 1923 encyclopedia article, "The Libido Theory"), and he made the body image a formation under construction that brings together perceptions, affects, fantasies, and thoughts, and that plays a fundamental role in human behavior and relations with others. In 1935 Schilder published his most famous work, The Image and Appearance of the Human Body. Donald Winnicott, Esther Bick, Piera Aulagnier, Gisela Pankow, Françoise Dolto, and Didier Anzieu are among the many psychoanalysts who subsequently further developed this notion, which is particularly useful for understanding certain psychotic states.
In 1923 he had also published Seele und Leben (Soul and life), a prelude to the many works that made him one of the most original and productive thinkers in his generation of psychoanalystsut he remained a relatively isolated man, because he did not wish to become linked with Freud, as was attested by his repudiation of the death instinct. However, although Freud, according to Fritz Wittels (1941) reproached him for working in "overly broad dimensions" instead of limiting himself to a miscroscopic psychoanalysis, he continued to hold him in esteem and in 1927, for example, he advised Marie Bonaparte to attend Schilder's visits and lectures at the Vienna Hospital. Before her, Anna Freud had gone to learn the essential basics of psychiatry from him and from Heinz Hartmann, Wagner-Jauregg's other assistant. Schilder was consistently hostile to the practice of psychoanalysis by non-physicians, attached as he was and would remain to his hospital-based psychiatric practice. He also refused to undergo training analysis and publicly maintained its uselessness. Still, his book Entwurf zu einer Psychiatrie auf psychoanalytischer Grundlage (Outline for a psychoanalytically based psychiatry), published in Leipzig in 1925, was a pioneering work on psychoanalytic approaches to the psychoses and has been too often neglected by his successors.
In 1928 he traveled to the United States at the invitation of Adolf Meyer and taught for three months at the Henry Phipps Psychiatric Clinic. He left the Vienna Hospital in 1929 and emigrated to the United States, in 1930 becoming medical director of the psychiatric division of Bellevue Hospital and research professor of psychiatry in New York University's College of Medicine. He married his collaborator Lauretta Bender in 1937. Although he resigned from the New York Psychoanalytic Society that same year, his contributions continued to influence American psychoanalytic thought.
Struck by a car as he was leaving the hospital where his son had been born a few days earlier, Paul Schilder died in New York on December 7, 1940, a short time after the accident.
As Hartmann wrote, "In my view, Schilder'sconception of the psychic apparatus is very close to the ideas that have been developed in recent years in another field, the psychoanalytic psychology of the ego" (cited in Ziferstein). He also stated, in "The Psychiatric Work of Paul Schilder": "Schilder did more to spread psychoanalytic discoveries among European psychiatrists than, with the exception of Freud, any other psychoanalyst."
ALAIN DE MIJOLLA
See also: Body image.
Hartmann, Heinz. (1944). The psychiatric work of Paul Schilder. Psychoanalytic Review, 31, 1, 296.
Mühllheitner, Elke. (1992). Biographisches lexikon der psychoanalyse (die mitglieder der psychologischen Mittwoch-Gesellschaft und der Wiener Psychoanalytischen Vereinigung 1902-1938). Tübingen: Diskord.
Schilder, Paul (1953). Medical psychology. (D. Rapaport, Ed.) New York: International Universities Press. (Original work published 1924)
. (1925). Entwurf zu einer psychiatrie auf psychoanalytischer grundlage. Leipzig, Vienne, Zürich: Internationaler Psychoanalytischer Verlag.
. (1935). The image and appearance of the human body. London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner.
Wittels, Fritz. (1941). Paul Schilder, 1886-1940. Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 10, 131-134.
Ziferstein, Isidore. (1966). Paul Ferdinand Schilder 1886-1940. Psychoanalysis and psychiatry. In Psychoanalytic pioneers (F. Alexander, S. Eisenstein, and M. Grotjahn, Eds.) London: Basic Books.