Hans W. Loewald

Quiet revolutionary creative synthesizer inspiration for 21st century psychoanalysis

Hans W. Loewald

Quiet revolutionary creative synthesizer inspiration for 21st century psychoanalysis

Among the challenges facing 21st-century psychoanalysis is the task of integrating our various theoretical schools. Hans Loewald is a pioneer of this endeavor.

Loewald’s emphasis on the fundamental role of internalization combines object relations, drive theory, self-concepts, and the socio-cultural history of an individual. Throughout his writing, Loewald views mind as an open system and the analytic relationship as an interpsychic experience developmentally grounded in the mother–infant matrix.

He conceives of the analyst’s task as holding in safe-keeping the image of the individual that he or she can become. In his model of therapeutic action, Loewald understands the analyst’s interpretations as conveying not only insight, but also a new object relational experience. The original objects – the ghosts that haunt present day life - are thus gradually transformed into ancestors.

Loewald’s ongoing, internal dialogue with Freud and others brought him to his remarkably prescient synthesis. His visionary thinking is a profound legacy and a rich point of departure for the ongoing development of psychoanalysis.

Toward that end, the mission of the Hans W. Loewald Center is to promote and develop a dialogue around Loewald’s legacy, by bringing a broader array of analysts into meaningful contact with his integrative thinking and its implications for contemporary psychoanalysis. The Loewald Center will work toward this mission by sponsoring conferences, seminars, workshops and other scholarly and professional activities inspired by Loewald’s integrative vision.

On Loewald

"Loewald’s work has successfully transcended the era of theoretical pluralism. I predict that because of the open, integrative nature of his thought, and its abiding clinical aptness, he will only gain stature in the years to come."

Rosemary Balsam, 2008

"The scope of Freud’s ideas and the way in which they are expanded by Loewald appeals to analysts in various contemporary psychoanalytic traditions, whether drive-oriented, ego-psychological, object-relational, or intersubjective."

Elizabeth Brett, 2018

"Loewald provides a unique synthesis, a comprehensive and original account that seamlessly integrates apparently contradictory claims and approaches, while at the same time moving beyond and transforming its initial components. It formulates, and in so doing helps to establish, much that constitutes psychoanalysis today."

Nancy Chodorow, 2009

"By observation, deconstruction, and imaginative reconstruction, Loewald helps us experience the subjective realities, past and present, to which the concepts refer. Theory may then come alive, to be reflected upon in all its complexity and ambiguity. Interpretation and continual reworking—a kind of theoretical working through—may then lead to new synthesis, integrity, and integration. This boldly integrative approach to theoretical concepts is what Loewald calls the “authentic function” of psychoanalytic theory."

Gerald Fogel, 1989

"Hans Loewald's....passion was Freudian psychoanalysis; in virtually every passage of his writings we encounter Freud as a living presence, as a participant in Loewald's inner dialogue. But Loewald engages Freud with a vision shaped by his early exposure to Sullivan and other relational analysts. Although these theorists remain a background presence (Sullivan does not appear in the index of any of Loewald's books, nor does Fairbairn, Rado, or Kardiner), Loewald clearly believed that reconciliation and synthesis are needed if psychoanalysis is to develop conceptually."

Jay Greenberg, 1996

"If Hans Loewald will be remembered, it will not be because of a new theory he contributed....but because of the wisdom that pervades his writing....To appreciate Loewald requires patience and playfulness (traits that come in handy as a psychoanalyst): a willingness to live with the unfamiliar thought of another, to allow it to take root in one's own psyche, to return to it after some and see how it now looks, from the changed perspective that has become one's own."

Jonathan Lear, 2012

"Perhaps the greatest joy in my reading of the psychoanalytic literature in recent years has been my immersion in the work of Hans Loewald....I began to realize just how powerfully Loewald’s vision had influenced my own in many ways I had not directly recognized.... As Loewald’s ideas all developed within the context of his love of Freud and of his extremely idiosyncratic and creative reading of Freud’s work, reading Loewald led me back to reread and reconsider Freud. I’ve found this kind of continual cycling back as probably the best way to both preserve and revitalize analytic traditions."

Stephen Mitchell, 2004