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Otto Fenichel started studying medicine in 1915 in Vienna. Already as a very young man, when still in school, he was attracted by the circle of psychoanalysts around Freud. During the years 1915 and 1919, he attended lectures by Freud, and as early as 1920, aged 23, he became a member of the Viennese Psychoanalytic Association.
In 1922 Fenichel moved to Berlin. During his Berlin time, until 1934, he was a member of a group of Socialist and/or Marxist psychoanalysts (with Siegfried Bernfeld, Erich Fromm, Wilhelm Reich and others). After his emigration – 1934 to Oslo, 1935 to Prague, 1938 to Los Angeles – he organized the contact between the worldwide scattered Marxist psychoanalysts by means of top secret "Rundbriefe", i.e. circular letters. Those Rundbriefe, which became publicly known only in 1998, can be counted among the most important documents pertaining to the problematic history of psychoanalysis between 1934 and 1945, especially in regard to the problem of the expulsion of Wilhelm Reich from the International Psychoanalytic Association in 1934.
- Otto Fenichel: Psychoanalysis as the Nucleus of a Future Dialectical-Materialistic Psychology (1934). In: American Imago, Vol. 24. (1967), pp. 290-311
- Otto Fenichel: The Psychoanalytic Theory of Neurosis. 3 vols, 1945
- Otto Fenichel: 119 Rundbriefe. Hg. Johannes Reichmayr und Elke Mühlleitner, 2 Bände, Frankfurt: Stroemfeld 1998
- Russell Jacoby: The Repression of Psychoanalysis. Otto Fenichel and the Political Freudians, New York: Basic Books 1983
- Otto Fenichel: 119 Rundbriefe (German)
- Otto Fenichel: Über die Psychoanalyse als Keim einer zukünftigen dialektisch-materialistischen Psychologie (German)
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