Psychiatric Bulletin ( 1991 ). 15, 185-187 Obituary Editor: Henry R. Rollin
HANS ERICH HAAS, 1896-1990 ,formerly Consultant Psychotherapist, Utfculme Clinic, Birmingham 13. Erich Haas, one of the few surviving early pioneers of psychoanalysis, died at his home in Birmingham in October 1990 at the age of 94. Born of Jewish parents, he served in the German Army in the first world war. After demobilisation he entered medicine, doing his pre-clinical studies in Bonn and his clinical studies in Cologne. After qualification he set off for Berlin with two of Freud’s works in his suitcase. Between 1922 and 1927 while working in the field of general medicine and neuropsychiatry under Professor Bonhocffcr and later Professor Ascheffenburg, he met Karl Abraham, the then President of the Berlin Psychoanalytical Society, who invited him to a series of lectures and seminars on Freud’s theories. Psycho analysis found little support in academic circles at the time and he needed considerable courage to pursue his growing psychoanalytical interests in a climate of considerable opposition and at times derisive criti cism. He underwent a personal analysis by Hans Sachs (who had been analysed by Freud) and was later supervised by him, becoming a member of the Psychoanalytical Society of Berlin. He left Berlin in 1927 and took up practice in Cologne as a specialist in nervous diseases, working mainly as a psychoanalyst. He was the first psycho analyst to work in Cologne where he was instrumen tal in attracting a small group of doctors to meet and discuss their interest in psychoanalysis. Although shy of publicity, he was persuaded to give what is widely believed to have been the first public broadcast on psychoanalysis in Germany. In 1933,when Hitler came to power, he travelled to England to investigate the possibility of immigrating. Ernest Jones and Edward Glover, whom he already knew, encouraged him to leave and offered him every assistance in his plans to leave Germany. Ernest Jones emphasised the importance of trying to estab lish psychoanalysis outside the metropolis and, largely on his advice, Haas decided to settle in Birmingham. Although this isolated him profession ally from other psychoanalysts, it was a decision he never regretted. In late 1936 he arrived in Birmingham with a work permit to set up a psychoanalytic practice as psychol ogist while at the same time he became a medical student at the University of Birmingham in order to obtain his medical registration in Britain. He re-qualified in 1941.Once established in Birmingham he became a seminal influence in the formation of a small circle of psychiatrists who met monthly in their homes to discuss cases of neuroses that were being treated by various forms of psychotherapy. He was a founder member of the Section of Psychiatry of the Birmingham Medical Institute, becoming one of its early presidents. While accepting Freud’s fundamental contri butions to the theory of the neuroses, Haas had sym pathies with those neo-Freudians who accepted the importance of the social environment in neurotic ill ness. In 1942 he was invited to establish an out patient clinic at All Saints Hospital devoted to psychotherapeutic treatment of the neuroses. Later he transferred his activities to the Uffculme Clinic and he played an important part in its development and recognition as a centre for psychotherapy. An enthusiast for clinical work, he was notably modest about his own contributions to his specialty. He was pragmatic and a realist in his approach to patients and used brief therapies extensively, not hesitating to recommend somatic treatments if he felt they would be helpful to the patient. He hated committees, saying they achieved little and only took the doctor away from his patients. An archetypical psychoanalyst in appearance and speech, his deepest satisfaction came from his relationships with his patients. He wrote and published little and seldom spoke publicly but when he did he was always worth hearing. His deepest satisfaction was the knowledge that his psychotherapeutic approach had helped some of his patients. This he regarded as reward enough and was the driving force in most of what he did during his long career. His leisure pursuits reflected a wide interest in art and its history. He was a founder member of the Birmingham Chamber Music Society and a regular concert-goer until just before his death. He was keenly interested in archaeology and a collector of Greek icons. He liked doing things with his hands and was justly proud of his garden where he found respite from long hours of listening to patients. After the death of his wife in 1984 he developed considerable culinary skills. While he outlived almost all of his contemporaries, many people from all walks of life in the West Midlands have good reason to be grateful to him, 185 186 not least the medical profession, many of whom became his patients. He will always be remembered as a pioneer of psychoanalysis who first intro duced analytic psychotherapy to an area where it was virtually unknown. He is survived by his only daughter Dorothy, who is a general practitioner in Birmingham. JAH
A forgotten chapter in the prehistory of psychoanalysis in Cologne. The emigration of Hans Erich Haas (1896-1990).
Haas was the first medical doctor from the Rhineland who was trained at the Berlin Psychoanalytic Institute and established himself as a “specialist for psychoanalysis” in Cologne. For nearly ten years he had a flourishing practice there with a particular interest in the treatment of schizophrenia. He was Jewish and in 1936 he emigrated to England where he was the first and for a long time only psychoanalyst in Birmingham. He specialized in treating patients with personality disorders and psychosomatic diseases and was increasingly consulted as a forensic expert. As a result of his association with a hospital and with the university, he was instrumental in the foundation of the West Midlands Institute for Psychotherapy. At the time of his death in 1990, the psychoanalytic study group of Cologne lacked any knowledge of his life or work.
Wrich Schultz-Venrath Zur (vergessenen) Frühgeschichte der Kölner Psychoanalyse: Das Emigrationsschicksal von Hans Erich Haas (1896-1990)
Article in German by D”r Haas