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Herman Nunberg

NUNBERG, HERMAN (1884–1970), U.S. psychiatrist. Born in a Polish Jewish townlet, Nunberg studied psychiatry with Eugen Bleuler and in 1914 joined the Vienna group of psychoanalysts. At the Psychoanalytic Congress in Budapest (1918) Nunberg maintained the necessity for personal analysis in the training of its practitioners. In 1932 he went to the United States. Nunberg's earliest writings were concerned with psychoanalytic interpretation of psychotic conditions. In 1932 his first book Allgemeine Neurosenlehre auf Psychoanalytischer Grundlage appeared. In his preface Sigmund *Freud considered it the most accurate presentation at that time of the psychoanalytic theory of neurotic processes.

In 1949 Nunberg published his monograph, Problems of Bisexuality as Reflected in Circumcision, in which he collated psychoanalytic experience, especially with the dreams of a patient who had undergone circumcision after infancy, with mythological and anthropological knowledge. Freud and T. *Reik had recognized the interrelation between circumcision and castration. According to Nunberg circumcision stimulates the feminine as well as the masculine strivings of the boy. Some Jewish tradition states that Adam was created both male and female and that the creator separated his female half. This belief is reminiscent of myths and infantile speculation on the origin of the two sexes. The female is made by castrating (circumcising) the male. An afterthought in this book dwells on the "question of German guilt." The Germans submitted unconditionally to their Fuehrer. By licensing murder the Fuehrer relieved the Germans of their sense of guilt for their inability to restrict their aggression. His book Curiosity (1961) was based on a lecture given at the New York Academy of Medicine. He served as a member of the Committee for the Study of Suicides. In later years he was noted for his psychoanalytic elucidation of dreams. As a teacher, researcher, and clinician Nunberg was recognized for the integration of theoretical contributions and clinical observations.


P. Neubauer et al. (eds.), Herman Nunberg: Memoirs (1969).

Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2007 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.