Melitta Mitscherlich

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Melitta Mitscherlich (born Behr; * 1906 in Würzburg , † 1992 in Frankfurt am Main ) was a German doctor, early psychoanalyst , and pioneer of psychosomatics in post-war Germany.

Live and act

Melitta Behr was born in Würzburg in 1906 . Her father was the naturopathic doctor Valentin Behr .

Following the family tradition, she studied medicine in Frankfurt, Munich and Berlin. On a trip to Prague in 1929 she met the bookseller and history student, and later psychoanalyst Alexander Mitscherlich . In 1932 she graduated as Dr. med. and married Mitscherlich on March 29, 1932 in Berlin. Their first child, daughter Monika (later married Monika Seifert ), was born on June 6, 1932 . Shortly after the birth of a second daughter (Barbara, November 1933), the couple separated. Melitta Mitscherlich moved with her two children to Bad Kissingen , where she took over the medical management of the sanatorium that her father ran there. The marriage was not divorced until 1936.

In parallel to her work as a doctor, which she only practiced in the summer months, she studied philosophy in Freiburg in the winter semesters of the war years up to 1945 . However, psychoanalysis was decisive for her further development, but she found its restriction to the spoken word restrictive and reductionist. She methodically included the body of her patients - posture, expression, movement - in her therapy concept and was one of the first doctors to establish the new specialty of psychosomatics . Her therapeutic motto was: “Movement is earlier than language. It is body language. "

After the war Melitta Mitscherlich first worked as a doctor at the renowned Tiefenbrunn Clinic . She received her psychoanalytic training at the Göttingen Institute for Psychoanalysis. She then set up her own practice in Düsseldorf , where she also carried out scientific projects. So she operated z. B. On behalf of the German Research Foundation, several years of studies on extrapyramidal movement disorders, which were then considered incurable hereditary diseases. But she treated these torticollis patients with the help of psychoanalysis, achieved astonishing successes and thus made important nosological findings available. This made her a pioneer of psychosomatics in Germany and represented this discipline , while continuing her practical work, as an honorary professor at the University of Düsseldorf .

Melitta Mitscherlich's scientific writings have appeared in specialist journals, research reports, congress files and edited volumes. A summary of the individual results of their research and practical experience in an overall presentation was no longer possible.

In addition to her activities as a doctor and scientist in research and teaching, Melitta Mitscherlich was an active member of the Humanist Union for a long time . She was of the opinion that psychology can never be apolitical because many psychological and psychosomatic ailments are rooted in living conditions, especially those of children. That is why she was involved in congresses of the Humanist Union, such as in 1973 in Cologne on the subject of child hostility in the Federal Republic.

Mitscherlich was also a colleague of Joseph Beuys and a founding member of the friends' association for the Free International University initiated by Beuys .

She spent the last years of her life in the anthroposophical retirement home "Haus Aja Textor-Goethe" in Frankfurt.


  • A case of Torticollis spasticus. In: Journal of Psychosomatic Medicine, Volume 8 (1962), pp. 255-267.
  • The psychic state of patients suffering from Parkinsonism. In: Advances in Psychosomatic Medicine, vol. 3 (1963), pp. 203-207.
  • For the psychoanalysis of the spastic torticollis. In: Der Nervenarzt, Volume 42 (1971), pp. 420-426.
  • Spasmodic Torticollis. In: Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, volume 19 (1971), pp. 62-75.
  • Psychoanalysis in the context of psychosomatic medicine. In: Journal for Psychosomatic Medicine, Volume 18 (1972), pp. 220-232.
  • Analytical treatment of hyperkinesis. In: Medical World, 1972, pp. 167–180.
  • A contribution to the question of alexithymia. In: Therapy Week. Official organ of the German Therapy Week, Volume 26 (1976), pp. 909-915.
  • The importance of the transitional object for psychosomatic theory. In: G. Overbeck / A. Overbeck (ed.): Emotional conflict - physical suffering. Rowohlt, Hamburg 1978.
  • The importance of the transitional object for the child's development. In: Christian Eggers (ed.): Attachments and possessiveness in the toddler. Munich 1984, pp. 185-201.


  • Melitta Mitscherlich (1906–1992). Obituary. In: Mitteilungen der Humanistische Union, No. 138, June 1992, pp. 35–36.
  • Martin Dehli: Life as a Conflict. On the biography of Alexander Mitscherlich. Wallstein, Göttingen 2007, ISBN 978-3-8353-0063-7 .

Web links


  1. ^ Lou Andreas-Salomé Institute for Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy
  2. Day History In: Clinical weekly Volume 55, Issue 6, pp 293-294, doi: 10.1007 / BF01484732 .
  3. ^ Günter Herzog: When Beuys wrote for Polke. In: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, April 30, 2009