Sandor Radó, an Expert in Addictions

Sandor Radó is remembered as one of the pioneers of psychoanalysis, but also as one of his reformers. He has always been characterized as an excellent debater. Intellectually he was brilliant and that together with his ability to argue gave him great notoriety within the psychoanalytic movement and outside of it.

Other not so notable aspects of his personality also became well known. He was a lover of good food and an irremediable seducer, in love and eager to conquer the women who crossed his path. This, together with exaggerated theses about phallocentrism, gave him a reputation as a misogynist. Maybe it’s an exaggeration, but ultimately his was not exactly feminism.

“Sandor Radó is now carrying, in addition to his 75 years, an infinite ocean of sadness in his heart; of sadness and disappointment…”

-Pastor Petit-

For all these reasons, Sandor Radó had an intense and long polemic with the psychoanalyst Karen Horney. And although in principle he was one of Freud’s most fanatical followers, sooner or later he took a new and distant path from classical psychoanalysis.

Sandor Radó, a remarkable student

Sandor Radó was born in Hungary in 1890. He was initially inclined to study law and in 1911 he obtained a degree in political science. Later, and against the wishes of his father, he decided to study medicine. This was his great passion, since from a very early age he was a great aficionado of the natural sciences. He received his doctorate in 1915.

By then he had come into contact with psychoanalytic doctrine. When he was 19 years old, he found himself with a letter from Sandor Ferenczi that dazzled him. From then on he became interested in the ideas of Sigmund Freud. In fact, he went personally to Vienna to listen to a lecture by the father of psychoanalysis and was fascinated. Since then he forged a friendship between himself and Freud, which lasted more than 15 years.

In Hungary, with Ferenczi he founded the Hungarian Society of Psychoanalysis. Then it was analyzed by Erzsebet Revesz, who in turn had psychoanalyzed himself with Freud. By then, Sandor Radó was married, but in the course of the process he fell in love with his analyst. Then he divorced his first wife and married her.

The psychoanalytic movement

In 1922, Sandor Radó moved to Berlin and there he carried out a second psychoanalysis, this time with Karl Abraham. Soon he was invited to join the Psychoanalytic Institute of Berlin. In 1924, Sigmund Freud himself asked him to be the editor of the International Journal of Psychoanalysis, International Zeitschrift Fûr Psicoloanalyse. Three years later he was also the editor of the famous Imago magazine.

During his time in Berlin he also became the trainer of new psychoanalysts. Important figures such as Wilhelm Reich, Otto Fenichel and Heinz Hartmann did didactic psychoanalysis with him. At that time he lived a very complex family situation. His wife, who was 6 months pregnant, fell into a pernicious anemia. She decided to perform a caesarean section and this led to her death two days later. The baby died a week later.

After this difficult event, Sandor Radó had a tempestuous and fleeting relationship with the psychoanalyst Helene Deutsch. Then he fell in love and married one of his patients, called Emmy. That is why Radó is spoken of as one of the most singular cases of transgression of psychoanalysis, since he married both his analyst and his patient.

A divergent path

In 1931, Sandor Radó settled in the United States. He was invited by Abraham Arden Brill so that between the two they would create the Institute of the Psychoanalytic Society of New York, in the image of the institute that worked in Berlin. When the Nazis came to power, Radó was one of the most cooperative in helping his colleagues to emigrate to the new continent.

In that stage he began to distance himself from classical psychoanalysis. He was in favor of integrating medicine and psychoanalysis very closely. He began to give much greater importance to biological phenomena, than to the experiences of the unconscious. He was inclined to study addictions and soon became one of the great authorities on these issues.

He finally adopted behavioral principles, with emotional reeducation as the center of treatment. In1942 created the Association of Psychoanalytic Medicine. Later he founded the School of Psychiatry in New York, an institution that practically had nothing to do with psychoanalysis. Radó died in 1972, after having become one of the most famous psychiatrists in the United States.