Well-Versed: Edith Jacobson’s Expressionism

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Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association


Imprisoned by the Gestapo, German-Jewish psychoanalyst Edith Jacobson (1897-1978) managed to escape Nazism and successfully continued her psychoanalytic career in American exile. This essay is the second of two on Jacobson's prison notebook, newly published under the title Gefängnisaufzeichnungen. Like the preceding essay, it assesses the interdisciplinary encounter of prison poetry with psychoanalysis, which illustrates the unique therapeutic capacity of poetry to ease pain in states of utter deprivation. It further embeds Jacobson’s literary creativity in the rich context of Weimar culture, focuses on pain’s capacity to enhance creativity, and unveils Jacobson’s deep awareness of literary commemoration and Expressionist innovation.