This society was founded by Max Eitingon in 1934. Eitingon had been one of the famous seven students of Sigmund Freud who, as a symbolic gesture were given a ring by Freud. Eitingon had also been the first to set up a psychoanalytic institute – in Berlin – which he left in 1933 to come to Israel. Freud had hoped that the Hebrew University in Jerusalem would set up the first university in the world to set up a chair for Psychoanalysis – but this hope was not realised. For Freud, “our University” became “your University”.
A few analysts came from abroad, more were trained here. The Palestine Society developed and became the Israel Psychoanalytic Society. Patients were treated at the Institute at rates relatively easily affordable. The Institute was located in a beautiful building in Ethiopia Street and later moved to Disraeli Street in Talbiyeh. Though located in Jerusalem, it served the country as a whole – there were analysts in Tel Aviv and in Haifa, and students came from all over to study at the Institute. Seminars were given in the various cities, mostly in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.
The Society is a member of the International Association of Psychoanalysis, (since 1934) and became a member of the European Federation of Psychoanalysis when this was formed. Gradually, leading psychoanalysts came to hold major positions in psychiatric hospitals and at universities. At the time of the Six-Day War in 1967, psychoanalysts took part in organizing psychological services, particularly in civil defense. In the Yom Kippur War, psychoanalysts also played a major role within the Israel Defence Forces. A training course in psychotherapy was set up at the Israel Institute, offering a 3-year course for psychiatrists, psychologists and social workers. By now more than 20 classes have graduated.
In 1977 the first International Psychoanalytic Congress to be held outside of Europe took place in Jerusalem. On that occasion, the Sigmund Freud Chair of Psychoanalysis and later, the Center for Study and Research in Psychoanalysis were set up at Hebrew University as an independent entity. International conferences were held, mostly through this Chair and Center.
Today, this is a thriving Society with nearly 200 members, and more than 100 professionals in analytic training. Although in Israel, as elsewhere, psychoanalysis has lost some ground to biological psychiatry, it is at this time holding its own here to a greater degree than, for example, in the United States. Israeli psychoanalysts have been and are active in the International Association and European Federation. Psychoanalysts from all over the world come to visit and lecture in Israel.