On the Exceptional Position of the Auditory Sphere : 1939 : Otto Isakower

by Julia Evans on January 1, 1939

Published in International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, v20 : p340-348.

Available at www.LacanianWorksExchange.net  /authors a-z or authors by date

From Seminar IV : 27th February 1957 : Jacques Lacan

See Seminar IV : The Object Relation & Freudian Structures 1956-1957 : begins 21st November 1956 : Jacques Lacan or here 

Para 31-Draft translation : You may have seen a sort of booklet come out in 1939, as the fourth edition of the year of the International Journal of Children’s Analysis. It seems that someone said: ‘All the same, there is something in language…’


– This paper is also quoted in Robert Fliess (1956) Phylogenetic vs. Ontogenetic experience – Notes on a passage of dialogue between ‘Little Hans’ and his Father. IJPA Vol 37 p46  which Jacques Lacan could have read by February 1957  [Wilhelm Robert Fliess was a German-American physician and psychoanalyst. He was the son of Wilhelm Fliess, a controversial otolaryngologist whose pseudoscientific theories influenced Sigmund Freud. He coined the term ambulatory psychosis. He wrote about sexual abuse and hinted that his father had abused him. Born: 29 December 1895, Berlin, Germany  Died: 1970]

– It has not been possible to ascertain whether this was published in the 4th edition of 1939

– Lacan adds ‘Children’ to the title of the IJPA

Two reasons why Lacan does not give the name (someone)

i. Otto Isakower trained with Heinz Hartman who chaired the meeting when Lacan was sacked from the IPA – see Minutes of the meeting of the International Psychoanalytical Association : 30th July 1953 : Dr Heinz Hartmann (IPA President & Chairman of the Meeting) or here  Other texts by Heinz Hartmann here  

ii. Anna Freud :  Isakower lived in UK (Manchester & Liverpool) from 1938 until 1940 and was selected to co-edit the collected edition of Freud’s works (Gesammelte Werke ) that Anna Freud carried on from London.  Anna Freud was involved with Heinz Hartmann to sack Jacques Lacan.

The text cited by Jacques Lacan

– I have not been able to find this exact quote in this text.  This is the nearest I can find :  p342  One fully agrees with this view when one considers the rôle of speech in reference to both the building up of the ego, and the comprehension and ordering of impressions of the surrounding world, and as a means of understanding between men. In the present-day theory of the ontogenetic development of speech the supposition is fairly well established that the acquisition of speech depends on the condition that the material of speech should be presented to the child from the outside and that no really creative factor is operative in the acquisition of speech by the individual. And therefore, in the case of a child with its sensory apparatus intact, the supply of very specific material to the auditory sphere is a very important and essential condition for the establishing of the ability to speak.

About Otto Isakower (1899-1972)

(from here)  

American physician, psychiatrist, and psychoanalyst, Otto Isakower was born in Vienna on June 2, 1899, and died in New York on May 10, 1972.

He studied medicine, graduating in 1923, and remained at the University of Vienna to specialize in psychiatry, working with Paul Schilder and Heinz Hartmann in Julius Wagner-Jauregg’s psychiatric clinic. After analysis with Paul Federn, he became a member of the Vienna Psychoanalytic Society (WPV) in 1925, and later served as a training analyst. From 1934, he served as co-chairman with Eduard Hitschmann at the ambulatorium of the Vienna Psychoanalytic Institute. A Jew, he was forced to flee upon the arrival of the Nazis in 1938.

Isakower first emigrated to London where in June 1938 he married Salomea Gutmann, also a physician and, from 1928, a member of the WPV. They joined the British Psycho-Analytical Society and worked in Liverpool and Manchester, and Isakower was selected to co-edit the collected edition of Freud’s works (Gesammelte Werke ) that Anna Freud carried on from London. In 1940, the couple emigrated to New York ….


In 1936 Otto Isakower published an article on the psychopathology of phenomena associated with falling asleep: “Beitrag zur Pathopsychologie der Einschlafphänomene ” (A contribution to the psychopathology of phenomena associated with falling asleep). It dealt with a varied set of phenomena similar to certain hypnogogic states and capable of being observed “in a number of patients suffering from widely different types of psychological disorders and also in some normal persons” (p. 331).


Note : If links to any required text do not work, check www.LacanianWorksExchange.net. If a particular text or book is missing, contact Julia Evans


Julia Evans  

Practicing Lacanian Psychoanalyst, London & Sandwich, Kent


Further posts:

Some Lacanian history here

Lacanian Transmission here    

Of the clinic  here 

Use of power here 

Translation Working Group here 

By Sigmund Freud here 

Notes on texts by Sigmund Freud  here 

By Jacques Lacan here    

Notes on texts by Jacques Lacan here 

By Otto Isakower  here    

By Heinz Hartmann here  

By Anna Freud  here  

By Julia Evans here