Past curators of the Helen McLean Library and Franz Alexander Archives at the Chicago Psychoanalytic Institute have left behind an extensive, well-organized and well-preserved collection of archival materials. Library staff are working to digitize and share some of this material as time permits.
One of the best examples of their work is the archival collection of Therese Benedek, M.D., one of the first faculty members of the Institute, who taught and practiced here from 1936 to 1969.
Benedek joined the Institute at the invitation of director Franz Alexander, M.D. She followed a similar path as Alexander: both were Hungarian Jews who emigrated to the U.S. to escape the growing Nazi threat. During her tenure here, Benedek authored or co-authored nearly a dozen books and nearly three dozen journal articles. She is known best for her studies of the psychosexual functions of women, although she also wrote about depression and veteran’s issues.
In 1959, Benedek published the article, “Parenthood as a Developmental Phase—A Contribution to the Libido Theory.” The article was groundbreaking in challenging the long-held notion that personality integration concludes in adolescence. “Personality development continues beyond adolescence,” Benedek wrote, “under the influence of reproductive physiology, and…parenthood utilizes the same primary processes which operate from infancy on in mental growth and development.”
Benedek left the Institute more than a dozen archival boxes and loose materials. Below are links to surviving transcriptions of lectures Benedek gave in 1954 and 1955 for her course, “Evolution of Psychoanalytic Concepts.”
We are working to digitize and catalog more documents like these to benefit professionals and researchers interested in learning more about the roots of the psychoanalytic profession. If you are interested in specific archival materials, please contact librarian John Leonard at (312) 897-1419 or firstname.lastname@example.org.