From Vienna to Managua: Journey of a Psychoanalyst
From Vienna to Managua, translated into English from the original Spanish by Margaret Hooks, details the life of psychoanalyst Marie Langer (1910-1987), who participated in many of the twentieth century’s most dramatic social and political events, both in Europe and Latin America.
Born into a wealthy, Jewish Viennese family at the turn of the century, Marie Langer first studied psychoanalysis under Sigmund Freud. She abandoned her studies however, to participate in the Spanish Civil War as a medical volunteer.
After fleeing fascism in Europe, she arrived in Argentina where she lived for many years before being forced yet again into exile, this time to Mexico. In both countries, she influenced the development and direction of psychoanalysis, but it was in Nicaragua during the early 1980s that she was able to put into practice ideas on the many roles of psychoanalysis that she had discussed and written about for a lifetime.
Free Association Books, London, 1989, ill., biblio., index, hardcover. ISBN 1-85343-056-0.
To go back to my mother. She had a lot to do with my vocation. She could have been Freud’s Dora. Fortunately, in spite of everything, she was less repressed. My mother and my maternal grandmother, who was nicknamed Taifun after the Chinese hurricane, were very strong women. They needed to fulfil themselves in some sphere, but, as their husbands had money, they couldn’t work, so they lost themselves in trivialities.
My mother was from the Victorian era, but like Madame Bovary she thought a lot about love. It was easy in Vienna, as a “lady” had much more right to commit adultery than to do serious study or work. Adultery entailed lying; my mother argued, ‘Us poor women, always subjected to men, what else is left us but lying?’
Nevertheless, when my father went to war and the refugees began to arrive from the Russian border, my mother and aunt opened a canteen for children. We all lived in the same house, in the Palais which had once belonged to a count. Each family had half a floor and my grandfather had one enormous floor all to himself. The canteen for refugee children was set up on the ground floor. My mother worked constantly, to collect the food, to attend to the children; she forgot about her clothes and her appearance.
When my father came back from the front, however, she dropped everything and took up her role as a lady once again. My father would never have asked her to because he wasn’t that demanding; he wasn’t in the least bit macho. But the natural thing for my mother was that once her husband was around she couldn’t work. I vaguely remember a time when lots of officers came to the house and that there was one I called uncle. Afterwards my mother told me that he had been her lover and that he was a hero, a nationalist who had fought for the independence of Czechoslovakia. So my mother gave up work and went back to her love affairs.
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