Margaret Mahler: Biography of this psychoanalyst

The development of the child and the way in which human beings gradually acquire their own identity from the stimulation of the environment and the elaboration of the Self have been the subject of frequent studies in psychology. Different models and explanations have been established in this regard.

One of the best known authors in this regard is Margaret Mahler, psychoanalytic author specializing in child development and in psychotic disorders in minors. Below we will review her life and work through a short biography of Margaret Mahler.

    Brief Biography of Margaret Mahler: The Early Years

    Margaret Schonberger, because that was her birth name until she acquired her husband’s surname, she was born in Sopron (Hungary) in 1897.

    The daughter of a doctor and a housewife of Jewish origin, Margaret was the first of two sisters. While her father always treated her properly and encouraged her to investigate (for the period in question she was considered to have offered him the same treatment as if she had been born male), with her mother, she never had too close a relationship.

    Margaret mahler he was interested in science from an early age, Probably in part because of his father’s profession. In her teenage years, she was encouraged to read psychoanalytic authors such as Sigmund Freud, interested in the subject of psychology and the unconscious.

    He started his degree in art history at the University of Budapest in 1916, but eventually decided to change and become a doctor, being transferred to the University of Munich and begins to specialize in pediatrics. Nevertheless around this time he began to promote and accentuate anti-Semitism and, being of Jewish descent, he decided to settle in Jenna until his graduation in 1922, as play and bonding were fundamental in development. physical and mental. minors.

      Transfer to Vienna and approach to psychoanalysis

      That same year, Margaret Schonberger would receive the news that she could not stay in Germany, being forced to move to Vienna. The author had already started to take an interest in Jenna affectionate relationships between parents and children, Which once in Vienna led her to take a more active interest in psychoanalytic theory and to train in this field. In 1933, he joined the Psychoanalytic Institute in Vienna.

      World War II

      In 1936 marry Paul Mahler, whose surname he would absorb. However, her husband’s business and activities practically bankrupted them.

      Shortly after his marriage, the Nazi army took control of Austria, forcing him to move to England (thanks in large part to the intervention of the Indian viceroy’s wife) to escape.

      She then moved to the United States, from where she would try to convince her family to join her. However, her mother was deported and killed in Auschwitz while her father died before the Nazis invited the area.

      Life in the United States and Death

      In the years following World War II, Margaret Mahler began working and researching psychosis and autism. He was successful in practicing at the Psychoanalytic Institute in Philadelphia. She would also be accepted into the New York Psychoanalytic Society and the Institute for Human Development.

      It was at this time that he established the main part of his theory concerning mother-child symbiosis and the progressive acquisition of identity and autonomy. She was also one of the first psychologists to specialize in children with psychotic disorders, establishing the specialized center in this area, at the Masters Therapeutic Nursery, and another focusing on individuation and separation, the Masters Children. Center, in 1957.

      The author has received several accolades and awards in honor of his lifelong contribution, especially in his later years. Margaret Mahler died in 1985 in New York.


        Margaret Mahler’s work has mainly focused on the treatment of childhood, making theoretical contributions in the psychoanalytic field of human development.

        One of his best-known theories concerns individuation. by Mahler a child’s personality begins to take shape thanks to the interaction with other people, initially merged with the figure of the mother by not being the baby able to differentiate and distinguish what I am from what I am not. Throughout development, the child will try to separate and become an independent entity through different phases.

        First, during the first month of life, the child would be in the phase he calls normal autism, in which he does not respond to external stimulation and spends more time sleeping than awake.

        From the second month, he enters a phase of symbiosis, in which the baby is not able to distinguish between me and not me and is in a phase of fusion with the mother.

        In the fourth month of life, the first attempts at differentiation are usually observed, entering the final phase of separation and individuation, Start the subject to explore on his own when he needs the mother figure to be near. Within a year, he begins to practice locomotion and separation from his mother, temporarily. After that begins a conflicting subperiod between dependence and independence, which will culminate around the age of two when you have a permanent Self and begin to realize that others have their own psyche alien to the same. their.

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