Max Schur

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Max Schur, M.D. (26 September 1897 – 12 October 1969) was a doctor and friend of Sigmund Freud. He assisted Freud in euthanasia.

Ernest Jones considered that 'Schur was a perfect choice for a doctor...his considerateness, his untiring patience, and his resourcefulness were unsurpassable'.[1]


Schur was born in Stanisławów in what is now Ukraine. He 'completed his high school education in Vienna after his family moved there in 1914 to escape the advancing Russian army. After attending medical school at the University of Vienna from 1915 to 1920, he had most of his postgraduate training at the Vienna Poliklinik. He remained there as an associate in internal medicine until he left Vienna in 1938'.[2]

After attending Freud's "Introductory Lectures", Schur became interested in psychoanalysis, 'had a personal analysis with Ruth Mack Brunswick from 1924 to 1932 and was accepted into the Vienna Psychoanalytic Society in 1932. It was this combination of psychoanalytic orientation and internal medicine that led to him becoming Freud's personal physician in 1929'.[3]

Schur contributed knowledge to both fields - medicine and psychoanalysis - founded two psychosomatic clinics, and explored the connection between psyche and soma in many of his 37 papers as well as in his book Freud Living and Dying: Peter Gay considered the latter 'invaluable for its private revelations and judicious, well-informed judgements'.[4]


During the last decade of Freud's life, 'Max Schur established himself as a figure almost as central to Freud as his daughter Anna'.[5] Schur followed Freud to London in his escape from the Nazi Anschluss.

At their initial meeting, Freud had asked Schur to '"Promise me also: when the time comes, you won't let them torment me unnecessarily"'.[6] Ten years later, in 1939, as he approached death from his cancer, Freud reminded him of his promise, and 'Schur pressed his hand and promised he would give him adequate sedation'.[7]

'In a period when paternalism was common, Schur modelled, through his treatment of Freud, a modern doctor-patient relationship based on veracity and respect for individual autonomy'.[8]


Schur made 'considerable efforts to link the somatic and the psychological aspects of the affects', ultimately producing 'a psychosomatic, compromise-formed view of the affects, in line with the trend in ego psychology'.[9]

'Studying the development of the instinctual drives, Schur compared ethological and child developmental concepts, as can be seen in his critical discussion of Bowlby's Grief and Mourning in Infancy (1960)': although always rooted in Freud's thinking, he 'argues firmly for a structured id and...felt that the idea of the repetition compulsion as a regulatory principle was superfluous'.[10]

In particular, Schur took issue with Freud's Beyond the Pleasure Principle - with respect to which 'Schur, whom no one can accuse of reading Freud unsympathetically, said: "We can assume only that Freud's conclusions...are an example of ad hoc reasoning to prove a preformed different from Freud's general scientific style'.[11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Ernest Jones, The Life and Work of Sigmund Freud (1964) p. 592
  2. ^ Roy K. Lilleskov, "Schur, Max"
  3. ^ Lilleskov
  4. ^ Peter Gay, Freud: A Life for our Time (London 1989) p. 744
  5. ^ Gay, p. 642
  6. ^ Gay, p. 642-3
  7. ^ Jones, p. 657
  8. ^ Wittenberg/Cohen, "Max Schur, M. D."
  9. ^ Ruth Stein, Psychoanalytic Theories of Affect (1999) p. 61
  10. ^ Lilleskov
  11. ^ Gay, p. 398n


  • Beldoch M., The death of the hero. An essay on Max Schur's Freud: Living and Dying. Bulletin Menninger Clinic, 1974 Nov; 38(6):516-26
  • Friend, M. R., Max Schur—1897–1969, International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 1971, 52:231-232 [1]
  • Max Schur, The id and the regulatory principles of mental functioning, International Universities Press, 1966
  • Max Schur, Freud: Living and Dying, International Universities Press, 1972
  • Giuseppe Paolo Mazzarello, The Struggle of Dr. Schur, History of Medicine, 2007 ([2])
See also: Schur