Friedrich Hacker

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Memorial plaque for Friedrich Hacker in Vienna

Friedrich Hacker (born January 19, 1914 in Vienna , † June 23, 1989 in Mainz ) was an American - Austrian psychiatrist , psychoanalyst and aggression researcher . In the USA he became known under the name Frederick J. Hacker.


Friedrich Hacker grew up in Vienna, where he attended the Stubenbastei grammar school. In 1938 he fled from the Nazis to Switzerland, where he completed his medical studies, which he had already begun in Vienna, in 1939 with the degree of Dr. med. could complete. In 1940 he left Europe and went to the USA, where he was initially employed at several clinics and in 1945 founded the Hacker Psychiatric Clinic (Beverly Hills and Lynwood, California) and the Hacker Foundation (Beverly Hills), founded in 1952/53 by Theodor W. Adorno was headed. In America he also worked with the emigrated members of the Frankfurt School, among other things on the study of the “authoritarian character”.

In later years he was Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Kansas and Professor of Psychiatry and Law at the University of Southern California (USC) in Los Angeles .

In 1968 Hacker founded the Sigmund Freud Society in Vienna , as its first president he made a significant contribution to maintaining Sigmund Freud's long-standing apartment at 19 Berggasse in Vienna. Today the Sigmund Freud Museum is housed there.

Hacker was the founder and scientific director of the “Institute for Conflict Research” in Vienna in 1976; you can find a foreword by him in the “Study Series Conflict Research”, Volume 3, published by Braumüller Verlag and (initially) Campus-Verlag .

In the United States, hackers' advice was sought in spectacular crime cases, such as the kidnapping of Patty Hearst , the granddaughter of the American media mogul William Randolph Hearst, or the hostage-taking of the Austrian ambassador in Bogotá in 1980 , during which he was able to persuade the terrorists to release their hostages. As an expert witness, he was involved in various high-profile murder trials. His clues about the Manson Family murder of actress Sharon Tate and her friends in 1969 made a decisive contribution to the investigation. His books reached millions of copies. In 1973 he negotiated on behalf of the Austrian government with terrorists who had control of the passengers of a train in Lower Austria. He could end the hostage-taking without bloodshed.


Friedrich Hacker died on June 23, 1989 during a television discussion on ZDF on the subject of " The Republicans ". He rests in a grave of honor in Vienna's central cemetery (group 33 G, number 76). In 2010 the Hackergasse in Vienna- Favoriten (10th district) was named after him.

Hacker's theses on violence

Friedrich Hacker became known in German-speaking countries primarily for his publications on aggression and violence.

Coming from Sigmund Freud's psychoanalytic tradition , he adopted Konrad Lorenz's theses on the innate, instinctual nature of aggression, but tried to combine these interpretations of behaviors ("biological programming") with behavioristic theses ("socially learned behavior") . Hacker writes: "Aggression is a basic form of behavior that can be triggered, strengthened or reduced by pain, fear, anger, provocation, threats to the position in the hierarchy, overcrowding and other internal and external stimuli and can be decisively influenced by learning experience." (Hacker 1971 , P. 158)

As a strategy against the “brutalization of the modern world”, which he diagnosed, he suggests promoting educational measures that make the mechanisms of the emergence of aggression aware and thus controllable: “When you become aware of your own aggression, those processes begin which (although not automatically, but possibly through precise and intimate knowledge of the changes in aggression and aggression) to interrupt the escalation of violence. ”(Hacker 1971, p. 418) Hacker also advocated intergovernmental organizations that could prevent aggressive behavior.

These optimistic views were criticized by critics as merely naive and helpless attempts to research violence. Even so, more than 30 years after their publication, his books are still first-class collections of materials on the biological and social mechanisms that can cause aggression and violence. His "25 theses on violence" from 1971 (p. 15 f) are still up to date today, for example:

  • Violence is the problem it claims to be the solution.
  • Violence is also what is justified as counter-violence.
  • Violence, forbidden as a crime, is offered, renamed and justified as a sanction.
  • Exceptions to the prohibition of force become rules for the use of force.


Fonts (selection)

  • Is man or society failing? Problems of modern criminal psychology . Europa Verlag, Vienna 1964 (European Perspectives).
  • Aggression. The brutalization of the modern world . Rowohlt, Reinbek 1977, ISBN 3-499-16807-3 (preface by Konrad Lorenz ).
  • Materials on the subject of aggression. Conversations with Adelbert Reif and Bettina Schattat . Rowohlt, Reinbek 1974, ISBN 3-499-16850-2 .
  • Terror. Myth, reality, analysis . Rowohlt, Reinbek 1975, ISBN 3-499-16928-2 .
  • The fascism syndrome. Analysis of a current phenomenon . Fischer-Taschenbuch-Verlag, Frankfurt / M. 1992, ISBN 3-596-10775-X .

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Frederick Hacker: Noted Expert on Terrorism. Obituary on (Los Angeles Times) June 30, 1989.
  2. John Bunzl , ed .: The Middle East Conflict . Analyzes and documents. 1981, Campus: ISBN 3593329093 ; Braumüller: ISBN 3700302738 , Hacker pp. VII - XI. Without an indication of the author, the authorship results from the preliminary note by the publisher.
  3. List of all decorations awarded by the Federal President for services to the Republic of Austria from 1952 (PDF file; 6.59 MB)