04/19/2024, 04:09, Vienna  DEUTSCH / ENGLISH

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Leading articles

THE VIENNA PSYCHOANALYST wants to give not only already internationally established psychoanalysts, but also still unknown psychoanalysts the opportunity to post a self-written and not yet published article on the FrontPage of our online magazine!

Our Users then can leave comments, ask questions or discuss the articles in our forum. Our aim is to provide an international platform where for the first time anyone interested in psychoanalysis can exchange ideas on certain topics.
Articles are welcome in German and/ or English.

If you are interested, please send your article to

(For reasons of readability, the male form is used with personal names, however the female form is also always intended.)




In our interview series "in conversation with“, we will briefly present the authors of the leading articles. We want to give our users the opportunity to read the leading article from a different point of view.

This week we are very glad to welcome Moritz Pohlmann from Freiburg, Germany:

Born in Freiburg-Germany. Studied psychology as main subjects Clinical Psychology and Social Psychology at the Universities of Fribourg and Bern. After his studies he received a psychodynamic training at the Heidelberg Institute for Psychotherapy. Since completion of the 18-month psychiatric psychosomatic activity at three clinics and change to the depth-psychological-analytical training at the Psychosomatic Hospital Freiburg he has worked since 2013 at the Sigma-clinic for acute psychiatry. Starting from July 2016 he will be working in an outreach clinic in Freiburg and in ambulant therapeutic practice. Pohlmann published texts for Aware and the Sigma Academy. In addition to his psychoanalytic training Pohlmann is currently attending a training course for qualifying as a boxing trainer.

DWP: What brought you to psychoanalysis?

Moritz Pohlmann: The time that I spent with a man named Peter, had an important part in it. Peter was "resident" in a house in Ireland, where I spent a year after graduating taking care of formerly homeless people. With Peter, who had crashed after a breakup, I spent many hours discussing the trajectories of our own life, hopes, big issues, the little things and experiences of everyday life. Sometimes we were even silent and listened to the bubbling of the fish aquarium which stood in the corner. To experience the effect of shared closeness and reciprocal listening was for me then a beneficial-happy experience that also led me to the desire to study psychology. During this time, I also began reading intensively psychological writings, at first mainly of existential-oriented authors: Ernest Becker, Viktor Frankl, Irvin Yalom. Their basic idea that neurotic suffering is always also a struggle with fundamental questions of human existence under the conditions of the respective time and the individual history of the patients, has always appealed to me.

DWP: If you had the opportunity to talk with Sigmund Freud, what would be the topic?
Are there any specific questions?

Moritz Pohlmann: If I could now have a conversation with Freud, I would talk to him about issues that currently bother me the most. In society today we have a boys and men problem. More and more they drift to the sidelines. One in eight-10 year-old boy in Germany is diagnosed with ADHD; Boys and young men dominate among the problem students, the school and study discontinuations; many seem only to feel vaguely at home in computer worlds; others join street gangs and are getting lost in a frightening (self) destructiveness.                                    
Of course, the reasons for this are manifold. But I am particular concerned with this question: Does this have to do with the fact that in the consumerism and progressivism of the war-torn western societies the so called thymos desire - courage, ambition, pride - find far too little consideration? Have we lost the positive notions of masculinity and models to nurture these thymotic potentials that push, boys and men, to evolve, can we still appropriately perceive and positively channel them? And: I believe that this thymotic-heroic strivings were indeed particularly pronounced by the pioneers of psychoanalysis, but that they and their successors in the psychoanalytic community too much eroticized them in their theories and as such ultimately trivialized them and, in any case not assigned them the proper place. Sloterdijk indicated in „Zorn und Zeit [Anger and Time]": "Although Psychoanalysis formulates a respectable training program for the psyche, with the aim of transforming the so-called narcissistic phases into mature object love. But it never occurred to the Psychoanalysis to form an analog education for the production of the proud adults, the fighters and the ambitious." I was wondering what Freud would reply to this.

DWP: Fabric or leather couch?

Moritz Pohlmann: I do not know if the difference is so crucial. We should not only think of the couch, but as also about the plants in the room. Recently I again lost a small sapling, a cherished money tree. Something like this should not happen.

DWP: According to Bruno Bettelheim and the importance of fairy tales in childhood. Will you tell us your favorite fairy tale? And do you see parallels to your own adult life?

Moritz Pohlmann: The Devil with the Three Golden Hairs. My mother is an actress in a theater of Freiburg, a former swimming pool that was remodeled shortly after my birth into a theater, where she had gone swimming with me during pregnancy. There the plays are performed in the old swimming pool, as spectator you sit close to the action around the pool stage. In The Devil with the Three Golden Hairs, she played the grandmother of the devil, who grants the servant his life and helps him to gain the three golden hairs, and lets him go.

I saw this with powerful music staged play, while it ran hundreds of times for years, as a boy dozens of times and was always intoxicated by it. When I think of references to my life today, I can think of: In the fairy tale it is also about the irreducible potencies of "the want to know and to dare", the different and on both sides so necessary (golden) maternal and paternal relaying for the child; the meaning of grace; the hope-giving possibilities of non-catastrophic extending separation processes and non-destructive battles. These are certainly life topics important for me.

DWP: I dream,….

Moritz Pohlmann: …not always hilariously, but I am almost always happy when I can keep a dream after waking. As long as you have dreams, you are not hopelessly lost. The own dream factory gifts one with a comforting experience of freedom.

DWP: What do you find good or particularly good in psychoanalysis and is there anything you do not like about it?

Moritz Pohlmann: Through bringing the suffering of the neurotic or the "madman" and the great anthropological questions together, the psychoanalysis has deepened the understanding and laid the foundation for a special way of listening, which is characterized by the desire to understand and humility at the same time. In this aspect a large humanitarian force emerge from it.

What I do not like: a psychoanalysis, which refuses to recognize (its) limits. I believe that the psychoanalytic community is sometimes very tempted to throw out Freud’s tragic image of mankind and to identify themselves with a progressive self-image. From a progressive point of view they have stoked unrealistic ideas of self-realization, relationship and education and their indefinite belief in betterment that mocks practical life with its limitations and boundaries and its "common unhappiness" as Freud called it. I wonder whether it has thus, contributed to-the uncertainty, the impotency of responsibility, fear of commitment and of life, which are so characteristic for our narcissistic time and may sometimes still contributes.

DWP: What challenges did you have to face during your analytic training?

Moritz Pohlmann: I became a father during my training. The time and financial burden of education on the one hand, and be a man and father on the other, and then in between finding time for also writing, boxing and for sharing time with friends - that´s a challenge.

DWP: Do you have a favorite Freud - quote?

Moritz Pohlmann: "Life, as we find it, is too hard for us; it brings us too many pains, disappointments
and impossible tasks. In order to bear it we cannot dispense with palliative measures."

DWP:  Are there other psychoanalysts, in addition to Sigmund Freud, who you like to study?

Moritz Pohlmann: The Zurich psycho- and existence analyst Alice Holzhey-Kunz with her approach, to combine existential philosophy and psychoanalysis, has influenced me greatly. Then the writings of Christopher Lasch, who, although not an analyst, used psychoanalytic bases for his captivating interpretations of time and who was instrumental in my attitude to psychoanalysis and its borders. During the last few years, in which I myself became a father and could conduct a stationary-therapeutic group of men, the recent work of the group of analysts that have differentiated addressed the development of boys and the importance of fathers and the deprivation of fathers: Frank Dammasch, Matthias Franz, Hans Hopf, Wolfgang Petri, Hartmut Radebold for example, inspired me.

Thank you very much for this conversation, we are already looking forward to your leading article!

Contact information of the author:
Moritz Pohlmann

Sigmund Freud Museum SFU Belvedere 21er haus stuhleck kunsthalle
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