Eva LichtenbergThe Franz Alexander Legacy Society honors individuals who have included the Chicago Psychoanalytic Institute in their will, trust or other charitable planned gift.  Legacy Society members envision the future and are determined to keep Franz Alexander’s mission, to better understand human beings and help them live better lives, alive forever. This is the first in a series of profiles of Franz Alexander Society inaugural members.


Setting an example & supporting psychoanalysis: board member Eva Lichtenberg

Former board chair and current board member Eva Lichtenberg, a clinical psychologist, says she might have become an analyst herself if the profession had opened to non-MDs sooner.

“With my family income and background, medical school wasn’t in the cards,” Lichtenberg, 85, recalls. She and her family arrived in Chicago in 1941 from Czechoslovakia via Japan as Jewish refugees.  Scholarships covered the cost of her education but not living costs. She calculated that she could work as a teaching assistant while earning her PhD in psychology, unlike in a medical doctor program.

The year she applied, University of Chicago’s psychology department accepted 17 students: “[T]wo were women and the rest were men. They told me, ‘you’re taking the place of a man… you’re going to get married, stop working and waste a place.’ I said, ‘I’m qualified. Let that be my problem.”

Lichtenberg did marry—her husband was a successful businessman who “could make 5 out of 2 and 2—legally,” she jokes—and had a son.  She started her still-running private practice as her son grew up (After her first husband passed away more than 30 years ago, she met and married Institute faculty member Arnold Tobin).  

Lichtenberg joined the Institute board in 1998. Around 2008 she decided to include the Institute in her will.  “I have to say, planned giving is relatively painless,” Lichtenberg says. “I am a firm believer that you give your kids an education and after that, unless they are ill, then they should be able to independently fend for themselves.

“But one thing people worry about is ‘will I have enough money left to take care of myself until the end of my life?’ With planned giving … that’s not an issue,” Lichtenberg says.

Initially, she gave as a board member and leader.  But she continues to enjoy the programs of the Institute, such as continuing education and to support the mission of sustaining psychoanalysis as a clinical practice and a theory of mind.

“People take it for granted, but psychoanalysis is the trunk of the tree from which virtually all other therapy models branch off,”  Lichtenberg says. But, psychoanalysis is also important for the way it is taught across a range of disciplines, she adds: “Our whole discourse about people, movies, theatre, music has been changed and made more understandable by psychoanalytic thinking.”