Biography of Famous Psychologists Theodor Reik
About the famous psychologist Theodor Reik, biography and history of the man.
THE GREAT PSYCHOLOGISTS ON THE COUCH
THEODOR REIK (1888-1969)
In his autobiography Reik relates a series of traumatic experiences that occurred during his 18th year. Several days before taking the final examinations for high school graduation, Reik saw his father dying of a heart seizure. As the man lay gasping in his chair, the doctor gave young Reik a prescription to be filled immediately at the local pharmacy, 15 minutes away by foot (no other transportation was available). As he ran through the streets, the image of his father already dead "emerged" in his mind, and he slowed to a walk. Then, realizing that his father's life depended on his speed, he started running again. When he returned home, his father was dead. "The death of my father threw me into an emotional turmoil of the strangest kind. I did not understand then what had happened to me and in me. I was unable to grasp the meaning of the emotions and thoughts which beset me, and I searched in vain for a solution, groping about as does a blind man for the exit from a room." Reik found the answer to his problems in psychology, eventually becoming a disciple of Freud. "When I began to study psychoanalysis a few years later, I recognized how many typical traits were in my attitude and that they had almost the clinical character of an obsessional neurosis. Obsessions and counter-obsessions fought each other in me, and I was for many weeks a victim of those strange thoughts, compulsions, and emotions," Reik, like many of his fellow psychologists, became a compulsive overachiever, submerging his feelings of guilt in his studies and work. "It suddenly occurred to me that I wanted to become famous....that I wanted to give honor to his [my father's] name in making my own name well known." It was only much later that Reik realized that nothing could have saved his father--that his death was an accident of fate.
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