Max Schur

Max Schur ( Ivano-Frankivsk , Galicia , Austro – Hungarian Empire , now Ukraine , 26 of September of 1897 , New York , December of October of 1969 ) was a physician and psychoanalyst Austrian who for many years served as doctor of Sigmund Freud .


He was born in Ivano-Frankivsk the bosom of a bourgeois family, which like the half of the population of that city in 1900, was of Jewish origin. The Schur family fled in 1914 from the Russian Imperial Army to Vienna , where Max Schur completed his interrupted secondary education. Between 1915 and 1920 he studied medicine at the University of Vienna , specializing later in internal medicine in the polyclinic of the same city. It is probable that his enthusiasm for psychoanalysis began very early, since at the age of 18 he was attending Freud’s lectures in Vienna.

In 1924 he entered into analysis with Ruth Mack-Brunswick , finally in the form of didactic psychoanalysis , so that he became a psychoanalyst and was accepted in 1932 by the Viennese Psychoanalytic Association . 1 From 1927, Schur was the personal physician of Freud’s French psychoanalyst and Freud, Marie Bonaparte, and in 1929, on his recommendation, he became Freud’s family physician, replacing Felix Deutsch (who had lost confidence Of Freud, for having concealed the diagnosis of the cancerous lesion that affected him). 2 Schur was already a very prominent internist, and Marie Bonaparte’s idea was for someone to coordinate multiple treatments, to examine Freud almost daily, and to be concerned with communicating with surgeons. With Schur he had made the best choice. He understood himself excellently with his patients and his attention, his inexhaustible patience and ingenuity were unprecedented. 3

Because of Freud ‘s experience with Deutsch, the agreement with Schur placed in the middle, on the one hand, that in this the doctor – patient relationship would make use of the “fundamental rule” of psychoanalysis, namely, to say everything, without Filter or select the information that is delivered and, on the other hand, that when the time comes, would be avoided the useless sufferings. 3

Schur became a good friend of Freud, so that he emigrated (after the annexation of Austria by the Nazis), along with him and a large part of his family, to London . When Freud’s cancerous lesion, which had begun in the mouth and in the larynx area, was terminal in character, Schur complied to prevent him from suffering unnecessarily, so that, at Freud’s request and with the agreement of his Daughter Anna , successively administered three doses of morphine , three centigrams each. 2 This is probably the first documented case of terminal sedation . After Freud’s death, Schur emigrated to the United States. And assumed a position as a physician in the dermatological section of Bellevue Hospital in New York. Parallel to his work with patients, particularly in the treatment of those with dermatological disorders of psychosomatic origin, Schur published several works in medicine and psychoanalysis.

Apart from contributing to the development of theory, Schur contributed to the organization of the psychoanalytic movement. From 1953 he was a supervisor, teacher and didactic analyst, helping to train new psychoanalysts. He was a professor of psychiatry at New York University and worked as a didactic analyst at the psychoanalysis institute at the university’s medical center. For many decades he was an active member (and as of 1967, president) of the New York Psychoanalytic Society, the oldest psychoanalytic institution in the United States and currently a member of the American Psychoanalytic Association .

Character of its contribution, context and work

Until 1950, Schur made no theoretical contributions to psychoanalysis. Although he had published dozens of articles, his writings revolved around exclusively medical subjects that rarely touched upon psychological aspects. His writings embroidered very specific topics of medicine that did not reach greater notoriety or diffusion. But since 1950, Schur began to publish a series of articles on psychopathology about the origin of anxiety and anxiety, as well as the mechanisms of symptom formation, based on the structural model of the psyche (the model of three instances Freud, Ello, I, and Superyo, and in the Freudian metapsychological perspective. He made relevant contributions in the field of the theory underlying the psychoanalytic treatment of psychosomatic diseases, as well as interesting derivations of Freud’s theory of Inhibition, Symptom and anguish . His theoretical texts also included the definition of concepts existing today in certain areas of psychoanalysis and very influential in clinical psychology, such as “somatization”, “desomatización” and “resomatización” also addressing the fine conceptual distinction between these terms Although Schur worked mainly on Freud’s texts, he also attempted to integrate and systematize the contributions of Anna Freud , Heinz Hartmann, and the psychology of ego to psychoanalysis, a movement that at that time was experiencing a notable boil in New York and new re-elaborations Theoretical. The city had become an important psychoanalytical center, since during the preceding decade a large number of well-known psychoanalysts, many of them of Jewish origin, who had suffered Nazi persecution in Europe, had come there. Finally, he collected the experience of his life as Freud’s personal physician, becoming a remarkable biographer of the master. His best-known book, Freud Living and Dying , published in 1972, is an extensive research on Freud’s conceptual and emotional relationship to illness and death.

Selection of publications

  • Schur, Max. (1953). The ego in anxiety. In RM Loewenstein (Ed.), Drives, affects, behavior. Essays in memory of Marie Bonaparte. (Pp. 67-103). New York: International Universities Press. (In Spanish: The ego in anxiety . There is no published translation).
  • -. (1955). Comments on the metapsychology of somatizatization . Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 10, 119-164. (In Spanish: Comments on the Metapsychology of Somatization There is no published translation).
  • -. (1958). The ego and the id in anxiety . Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 13, 190-220. (In Spanish: The ego and the id in anxiety . There is no published translation).
  • -. (1962). The theory of the infant-parent relationship . International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 43, 243-245. (In Spanish: The theory of relationship child – parents . There is no published translation).
  • -. (1966). The Id and the Regulatory Principles of Mental Functioning. International Universities Press, New York. (In English: The id and the principles governing mental functioning . There is no published translation).
  • . – (1972) Freud: Living and Dying. Hogarth, London, (posthumous publication) ( Sigmund Freud, Illness and death in his life and in his work , Barcelona, ​​Paidós, 1980)


  • Beldoch, Michael. The death of the hero. An essay on Max Schur’s Freud: Living and Dying . In: Bull. Menninger Clinic. 1974, Nov. 38 (6): 516-526.
  • Friend, Maurice R. Max Schur 1897-1969. In: International Journal of Psycho-Analysis. 52 (1971): 231 et seq.
  • Jones, Ernest . Das Leben und Werk von Sigmund Freud. Band 3: Die Letzte Phase 1929-1939 . 3rd ed. Huber, Bern 1982, ISBN 3-456-81195-0 .


  1. Back to top↑ “Schur, Max (1897-1969) (International Dictionary of Psychoanalysis)» (in English) . Archived from the original on November 26, 2015 . Retrieved on October 21, 2013 .
  2. ↑ Jump to:a b Roudinesco, Elisabeth ; Plon, Michel (2008) [1997]. Dictionary of Psychoanalysis [ Dictionnaire de la Psychanalyse ]. Translation by Jorge Piatigorsky and Gabriela Villalba. Buenos Aires: Paidós. Pp. 221 and 999. ISBN 978-950-12-7399-1 .
  3. ↑ Jump to:a b Ernest Jones Das Leben und Werk von Sigmund Freud. Vol. 3: Die letzte Phase 1929-1939 [The life and work of Sigmund Freud. The last phase]. Dietmar Klotz, Frankfurt am Main, 2007, 5th ed. ISBN 978-3-88074-524-7 , p. 175.