Born in 1909 in Alsace, then a part of Germany, Hans Loewald was a key figure in twentieth-century psychoanalysis, primarily in the United States, whose thought bridged philosophy and psychoanalysis. He was an innovative psychoanalytic writer, educator and clinician. His 1988 book “Sublimation: Inquiries Into Theoretical Psychoanalysis” offered a provocative examination of sublimation. His inquiry led him to reexamine and revise basic psychoanalytic theory relating to instincts, symbolism, motivation, ego development and various emotional processes.
Dr. Loewald attempted to disentangle sublimation, the process of expressing instinctual impulses in constructive socially acceptable forms , from other psychoanalytic concepts with which it is often confused. He examined sublimation within three contexts: as reconciliation, as defense, and as symbolic expression. He established a strong case for the undifferentiated quality of early life, a time of unselfconscious unity prior to awareness of self or other. Dr. Leowald viewed sublimation as an act of instinctual expression derived from this early pre-differentiated period.
He has been described as a thinker whose synthesis of clinical sensitivity and philosophical depth was unsurpassed in the psychoanalytic tradition.