Dr. Joseph K. Friedjung, formerly Lecturer on Pædiatrics at the University of Vienna, died at Haifa in Palestine on February 20, 1946, at the age of 75. At 8 o’clock that evening he had ended a session with a psycho-analytic patient; a few minutes later he had an attack of angina pectoris (his first) and died within twenty minutes. Thus ended a life full of activity and incident. Friedjung was by character a fighter in the sphere of culture and philanthropy, but he was a helper too. His life’s work was devoted to three great interests: Social Work, Medicine (in particular, pædiatrics) and Psycho-Analysis.
He was born on May 6, 1871, at Nachwieditz in Czechoslovakia, third of a family of eight children. His father, Alois, was a merchant and inn-keeper. Joseph Friedjung spent his early years in the country and attended a Czech primary school. When he was ten he went to a secondary school in Vienna. At the same time he attended the Vienna Conservatoire to develop his musical gifts, which were so considerable that he thought at one time of taking up music professionally. When, however, he had completed his course at the secondary school, in 1888, he decided definitely for a scientific career and became a medical student at Vienna University. After 1896 he devoted himself specially to pædiatrics, which he studied both in Berlin and Vienna.
His social-political activity began in 1900, when he became a member of the Social-Democratic Party. Ten years later, at the suggestion of Dr. Hitschmann, he joined Freud’s circle and soon became an active champion of psycho-analysis, especially in its application to pædiatrics. In 1920 he was appointed Lecturer on Pædiatrics at the University of Vienna.
His political career was somewhat eventful as well as successful. He was called up for military service in October, 1917, became involved in revolutionary activities and took an active part in the revolution in Austria after the first World War. In 1919 he was elected to the Austrian Diet and remained a member until 1922. He continued to be actively concerned in Viennese municipal politics and especially in the sphere of education.
After the February rising in 1934 Friedjung was arrested on suspicion of being head of the medical service of the republican defence organization and was kept in prison for ten weeks. His experiences
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at that time led him to publish a study on ‘The Psychology of Imprisonment’. Apart from this, he published over a period of years a large number of papers on medical and psycho-analytic subjects. His principal work, Die Rolle der Fehlerziehung in der Pathologie des Kindes [ The Role of Faulty Education in the Pathology of Children ], was published by Springer in 1931.
In 1938 Friedjung left Vienna and emigrated to Palestine, where he settled at Haifa. There he soon resumed his work in the fields of psycho-analysis and education with courses of lectures and seminars.
In December, 1945, his wife fell ill, and died in January, 1946. He survived her by only a few weeks.
We have lost in Friedjung a man who belonged to ‘the world of yesterday’, a man who was the embodiment of the enchanting, cultivated, amiable civilization of Vienna at the turn of the centuries.
“The environment as a cause of disease in children”: Josef Friedjung’s transnational influence on modern child welfare theory.
Josef K. Friedjung’s Advanced Pediatrics–A Companion to Traditional Textbooks (Erlebte Kinderheilkunde–eine Ergänzung er gebräuchlichen Lehrbucher), published in 1919 in Vienna, has cast a long but nearly-vanished shadow over modern child welfare theory. The originality of his focus on “the whole child” was in some ways a commentary on Sigmund Freud, but its overtly progressive political character gave Friedjung’s argument visible applicability within the field of urban social welfare. As a pediatrician and an ardent cosmopolitan, Friedjung was willing to consider conflicting values between traditional family systems and the state. Had the Nazis not forced him into exile in Palestine, where he died in 1946, Friedjung’s pioneering oeuvre would have joined our child welfare narrative long ago. Fortunately today archival evidence on which this study draws, fragmented as it is in both German and English, does confirm that the first and second generation psychoanalysts, Friedjung among them, built a mental health movement around a social justice core closely allied to the cultural context of central Europe from 1918 to 1933. In many ways, child welfare as we know it emerged as a practical implementation of that ideology.