The Edmund Bergler Society of Toronto is dedicated to the promotion of a better understanding and revitalization of the works of Dr. Edmund Bergler (1899-1962), a psychoanalyst who worked with Freud as his assistant director at the Vienna Clinic during the 1930s.
Several of Freud’s disciples developed their own ‘brand’ of psychoanalysis, and eventually split off from Freud, but Bergler did not. He followed and extended Freud’s work. He immigrated to the United States in 1938, where he worked as an author and psychoanalyst until his death in 1962. During that time, he wrote 24 books and published hundreds of papers in both professional journals and popular magazines.
In spite of these significant achievements, Bergler's work has— vanished! Any references to him have been removed from most, if not all psychoanalytical and psychotherapeutic institutions and associations.
In her introduction to "The Quiet Revolution in American Psychoanalysis” (Arnold Cooper, 2005), E. L. Auchincloss writes: "Edmund Bergler [was] a brilliant intellectual figure whose abrasive personality and originality led to his being largely banished from official analytic publications...Bergler's emphasis on pre-Oedipal development, the importance of
narcissism in individual development, the role of the superego, and the broad use of various masochistic defences, were significant precursors of Kohut, Kernberg, and other innovative psychoanalysts."
Peter Michaelson (see our History link) comments: "Many PhD graduates in psychology from leading American universities have never heard of him. No biography of him has been written... I take this extraordinary avoidance of him as evidence of the great significance of his findings."
In his Principles of Self-Damage (1959) Bergler wrote that the "majority of analysts avoid as unpalatable the fact that psychic masochism is universal; they show even more distaste for the fact behind this fact--the unremitting cruelty of the superego. But science cannot be converted to the program of happy endings..." and, in his Curable and Incurable Neurotics (1962) he states unequivocably that "Without analyizing the basic masochistic substructure the neurotic cannot be changed." (p. 64)
The genetic development of psychic masochism is detailed in the Infant link on this website. The clinical picture is outlined in the Adult link; and there is a Treatment link. But please! Before continuing, select the Read First! link. If you have any questions about the material on this website, please Contact Us.