Schilder, Paul Ferdinand

Schilder, Paul Ferdinand
   Highly influential in bringing European approaches to the United States, Schilder was born in Vienna, his father a silk merchant. In 1909, he graduated with an M.D. from the University of Vienna, then trained in psychiatry first with Gabriel Anton (1858–1933) at the university psychiatric clinic in Halle on the Saale, then in 1912–1914 with Paul Flechsig (1847–1929) at the university psychiatric clinic in Leipzig. In 1917, he earned a Ph.D. in philosophy in Vienna, then served from 1918 to 1928 as an assistant to Julius Wagner von Jauregg at the university psychiatric clinic in Vienna. He received his Habilitation in psychiatry and neurology from Vienna in 1920 (1925 associate professor, or ausserordentlicher professor). It was said that he left Vienna for Johns Hopkins University in 1928 because Wagner, on the verge of retirement, had pushed him out, fearful that the gifted young Schilder would become the next professor of psychiatry. (Wagner-Jauregg tended to be anti-Semitic and Schilder was Jewish; yet, Schilder had renounced the Jewish religion in 1918, and there were other Jews such as Emil Redlich (1866–1930) of whom Wagner was fond; the story seems more a personality clash; also, Schilder spoke in a high voice that many found distracting.) After a year at Hopkins, Schilder moved to New York in 1929 to start lecturing in psychiatry at New York University Medical School, and in 1930 became clinical director of psychiatry at Bellevue Hospital. He died in a traffic accident in 1940.
   Schilder was adept in reaching across disciplines, sometimes focusing primarily on neurology—producing an enormous body of writing on neurological syndromes including Encephalitis periaxalis diffusa, "Schilder’s disease" (1913)—sometimes interested in psychoanalytic formulations (he was prominent in Europe, yet was rejected for membership in the New York Psychoanalytic Society), and sometimes interested principally in the exact description of symptoms in the European tradition of psychopathology. In Vienna he often collaborated with such emerging stars as Hans Hoff (see VIENNA), Josef Gerstmann (1887–1969), and psychoanalyst Heinz Hartmann (1894–1970); in Baltimore, he collaborated with child psychiatrist Leo Kanner (1894–1981; author in 1935 of the first American textbook with the title Child Psychiatry; see Autism), and also with child psychiatrist Lauretta Bender (1897–1987) (see Women in Psychiatry: Bender), whom Schilder married as his second wife in 1936; at Bellevue he worked with Walter Bromberg (1900–2000). In 1939, in an article in Mental Hygiene, he described how at Bellevue Hospital he had initiated the practice of group psychotherapy, an early attempt at group therapy by a psychiatrist. (See PSYCHOTHERAPY: group psychotherapy.) Some of the books for which he is best known in the United States were published after his death: Psychoanalysis, Man and Society (1951), which is a collection of his articles edited by his widow Lauretta Bender; and Medical Psychology (the English translation in 1953 of his Medizinische Psychologie (German orig. 1924). In Europe, his German-language books, such as Thoughts on Natural Philosophy (Gedanken zur Naturphilosophie, 1928) made him a leading figure (also a heretical one, because he said the causes of melancholia were unplumbed). Schilder’s interest in breakdowns of the mind–body relationship gave a lifelong focus to his work, and his Image and Appearance of the Human Body (1935) set the stage for much psychosomatic investigation.
   (See Body Image: Disturbances of [1935].)

Edward Shorter. 2014.