Heinz Hartmann’s ego psychology influenced a whole generation of psychoanalysts. Considered a major figure in the second generation of psychoanalysts after Freud, Hartmann was challenged to fulfill Freud’s hope to create a general psychoanalytic psychology. He emphasized the independence of ego processes versus drive, and the role of external reality. In his writings there are few clinical observations as he felt that it was important to develop a conceptual framework that illustrated a general theory. Hartmann believed in a conflict-free sphere of the ego, which functions from birth or soon after, that is not the result of drive modification. In Ego Psychology and the Problem of Adaptation (1939), he noted that the newborn human and his average expectable environment are adapted to each other from the very first moment.
Born in Vienna to a distinguished family of historians and academicians his father was Austrian Ambassador to Germany after World War I Hartmann graduated from medical school at the University of Vienna in 1920 but pursued several careers before turning to psychoanalysis. He was his father’s personal secretary during his ambassadorship. Hartmann underwent analysis with Sandor Rado, Josef Breuer, and Sigmund Freud, collaborated with Rado in the editorship of the Internationale Zeitschrift fur Psychanalyse, helped establish Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, and served as President of the International Psychoanalytical Association.
His books include Psychoanalysis and Moral Values (1960), and Essays on Ego Psychology (1964). An edited festschrift that collects his major papers, Psychoanalysis: A General Psychology, was published in 1966. Hartmann is best known for his collaboration with Ernst Kris and Rudolph Loewenstein and for his influence on David Rapaport.
Primary source material:
(1927). Die Grundlagen der Psychoanalyse. Leipzig: G. Thieme.
(1939). Ego Psychology and the Problem of Adaptation. New York, International Universities Press, 1958,
(1944). The psychiatric work of Paul Schilder. Psychoanalytic Review, 31, (1), p. 296.
(1950). Comments on the psychoanalytic theory of the ego. Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 7, pp. 9-30.
(1956), The ego concept in Freud's work. International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 37, p. 433.
(1964). Essays on ego psychology. New York, International Universities Press. (Original work published 1939)
Hartmann, H., Kris, E., & Loewenstein, R. M. (1946). Comments on the formation of psychic structure.-Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 2, pp. 11-38.
Hartmann, H., Kris, E., & Loewenstein, R. M. (1964). Papers on psychoanalytic psychology, New York: International Universities Press.