Who was Heinz Hartmann, and what were his contributions to the field of psychology?

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M.P. Ossa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Heinz Hartman is a Viennese psychiatrist and psychoanalyst from the Freudian school. He was born in 1894, and, as a Freudian, he based all or most of his theses on the foundations proposed by Sigmund Freud in terms of analysis of the inner psyche of all individuals.

Coming from a well-to-do family of aesthetics and scholars, Hartman had no problem finding the perfect pairings when it came to conducting his psychoanalysis studies. He was a student of Sandor Rado as well as an intern of Sigmund Freud himself.

The most significant influence that Heinz Hartman has bestowed upon the psychoanalytical field are his studies on what he later would become known as the father of: Ego Psychology.  The psychology of the ego, became a school of psychoanalysis based on the model of the Ego-Id-Superego proposed by Freud.

At the time Hartman proposed his theory, the accepted notion in psychoanalysis was that the work was that a strong ego can supersede any issues going on with the id, super-ego, etc. In other words, that the job of the therapist was so make egos strong. They assumed that the stronger the ego is, the least possible it is to become afflicted with mental conditions.

The big difference that Harman brought to the field was that the ego has separate functions that may or may not be affected by mental conditions; that sometimes mental conditions occur independently from the ego whether it is a strong one or not; what the therapist is supposed to do is to teach the patient how to enter conflict-free zones. In other words, the therapist should teach the client to problem solve and avoid conflicting situations as the best way to protect the ego.
The importance of this proposal by Hartman is the implication that personality traits, self-esteem (the ego), our inner drive (id) and our environment are consistently interacting and affecting each other. A strong ego has lots of benefits, but the best way to avoid trauma is by understanding consequences and avoiding unnecessary conflict. Adaptation, in other words, is the best cure.

laurto | Student

Heinz Hartmann was a psychiatrist and psychoanalyst. He is known as one of the founders of ego psychology, which is rooted in Sigmund Freud's structural id-ego-superego model of the mind. He also participated in the creation of a manual of medical psychology. He left Austria to escape the Nazis and went to New York, where he became one of the foremost thinkers of the New York Psychoanalytic Society. There he wrote many articles. Hartmann became the president of the IPS (International Psychoanalytical Association). He is credited with bringing psychology and psychoanalysis closer together.