Letter to the Editor
Psychiatric News
Volume 37 Number 12 page 33-33

I read with particular interest the article about Dr. Frieda Fromm-Reichmann in the May 3 issue. I appreciate the local color that the reporter supplied about Heidelberg; her article was quite helpful in further illuminating the brilliant healing work of Dr. Fromm-Reichmann.

I have been greatly impressed with the book Principles of Intensive Psychotherapy, and it has remained on my bookshelf for more than 40 years. I have been learning more about Frieda Fromm-Reichmann in preparation for a presentation to our local psychotherapy development group. I was greatly aided in this by a recent biography, To Redeem One Person Is to Redeem the World by Gail A. Hornstein (Free Press, 2000).

Among the items that I had not been aware of in Dr. Fromm-Reichmann’s development as a healer was her association with one of my heroes from my days as neurology resident, Dr. Kurt Goldstein. Goldstein was the faculty advisor for her medical school thesis about visual perceptions in schizophrenia.

During World War I, hospitals for brain-injured soldiers were independently run. After the war she spent two years with Goldstein in Frankfurt, where she collaborated in his research on the long-term course of traumatic brain injuries. They found that not only was there great variability in recovery from brain injury, but also personality features were an integral part of each patient’s total clinical picture. This was contrary to the prevailing views in neurology about the fixed nature of such lesions. Neuroscientists are just confirming our understanding of the brain as a very plastic organ.

No doubt this work contributed greatly to her view that there was no such thing as a hopeless patient when she later began working with regressed psychotic people.

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