‘The Most Brilliant Genius’: In Memory of Robert Langs (1928-2014) By Professor Brett Kahr

Posted on Oct 30, 2017

Copyright © 2016, 2017, by Brett Kahr. Please do not quote without the permission of the author.

On 8th November, 2014, the distinguished and pioneering American physician, psychiatrist, and psychoanalyst Dr. Robert Joseph Langs died at his home in New York City, New York, at the age of eighty-six years, from amyloidosis, a rare blood disease.  One of the most prolific authors in the entire history of psychoanalysis, Langs produced enough published works to fill a whole library wall.  In sheer quantity alone, as author or editor of over fifty books, he certainly rivalled, and even exceeded, the output of Sigmund Freud, Carl Gustav Jung, and Donald Winnicott.

Robert Langs devoted his professional life to a detailed study of the vicissitudes of the treatment process, focusing, in particular, upon the fact that many psychoanalytical practitioners would often deviate from the basic ground rules of “secure frame” clinical practice and, moreover, would fail to engage with the ways in which their patients criticised them in the form of encoded, unconscious communications.  Langs averred that large numbers of clinicians, in spite of their lengthy trainings and dedication to good psychotherapeutic work, would often overlook or avoid the hidden meanings of their patients’ narratives, and would neglect to listen truly with the famous “third ear” that all good psychoanalytical mental health professionals require.

Over the course of nearly half a century, Langs continued to investigate the errors perpetrated by psychoanalytical and psychotherapeutic practitioners – which he referred to as “deviations” – and he maintained a deep commitment to educating younger colleagues so that they would become increasingly adept at evaluating their own endeavours in a critical and incisive manner.  His writings, his lectures, and his clinical workshops became legendary, and through his potent speaking style, Langs never failed to captivate his listeners.

“his potent speaking style”: from his wonderful talk ‘Resuscitating Freud’s First Paradigm of Psychoanalysis

A passionate advocate for improving the ethical base and the competencies of mental health practitioners, Langs spoke loudly and plainly about the failings of his many colleagues, so much so that the writer Mrs. Lucy Freeman (1984, p. 6) referred to him as “the Ralph Nader of psychotherapy”:  a veritable consumer advocate prepared to expose the wrongdoings of the profession.

Needless to say, Langs’s critiques of his clinical colleagues across the years evoked tremendous suspicion and disapproval in the early days – a hatred not dissimilar to that endured by Sigmund Freud for having privileged talking therapy over the genital surgeries and other cruel somatic interventions so prevalent in the late nineteenth century (cf. Kahr, 2013, 2017).  For many years, a vast number of American psychoanalysts lambasted Langs as a maverick, or as a renegade or, even, as a fanatic who placed too much emphasis on the technical errors perpetrated by clinical practitioners.  Most British psychoanalysts simply ignored Langs, or pretended never to have heard of him.  Certainly, his works rarely, if ever, appeared on any reading lists that I encountered during my own trainings.

The noted psychoanalyst from San Francisco, California, Dr. Victor Calef (1979), one of the doyens of the American Psychoanalytic Association, published an extremely condemnatory review of Langs’s (1976c) book The Bipersonal Field in the Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, excoriating Langs for his “critical zeal” (Calef, 1979, p. 703).  Like many psychoanalysts, Dr. Calef resented the fact that Langs berated fellow professionals for not adhering to the ground rules of secure-frame psychotherapy and psychoanalysis with satisfactory rigour and for not interpreting the unconscious material of their patients in sufficient detail.  Calef (1979, p. 705) chastised Langs’s book, noting that, “The language tends to be jingoistic, while conjectures and claims are extravagant.  Aspiring to be both critic and exponent of psychoanalysis, Langs falls short in both attempts”.  Some years later, the scholar David Livingston Smith (1991, p. x) came to describe Calef’s remarks as “quite the most vitriolic review that I had ever come across in that normally staid publication”.

Many others regarded Langs with suspicion in spite of his impeccable psychoanalytical credentials.  At one point, Langs wrote a typescript on “The Therapeutic Relationship and Deviations in Technique” in which he expressed great concern about the ways in which psychoanalysts would fail their patients by not deciphering unconscious communications as fully as they might.  Langs submitted the paper to The International Journal of Psycho-Analysis for publication, but the editor, Dr. Joseph Sandler, rejected Langs’s offering, explaining, ‘ “Unfortunately, we are unable to accept this.  You are asking too much of the analyst” ’ (Quoted in Freeman, 1984, p. 164).  Sandler’s verdict mirrored that of many others who found Langs too critical of the practices of classical psychoanalytical practitioners.

And yet, anyone who had taken the time and the effort to read even a single one of Langs’s copious books or papers soon came to realise that he possessed a deeply rich mind, and that he certainly deserves a place among the geniuses of the psychoanalytical establishment for having made an inestimable number of key contributions to the field.  Indeed, Dr. Juan Carlos Echevarria (2014), a physician and psychoanalyst from New York City, New York, paired Dr. Robert Langs with Dr. John Bowlby, describing them as “the most influential psychiatrists”.  In similar vein, Dr. Andrew Gerry Hodges (2014), a psychiatrist from Birmingham, Alabama, referred to Langs as “One of the great minds in history”, and that, “I consider him the most brilliant genius the field of psychoanalysis has ever produced – nonpareil” (Hodges, 2014).

Born on 30th June, 1928, to Dr. Louis Langs, a physician, and to Mrs. Estelle Levy Langs, the young Robert Joseph Langs grew up in Brooklyn, New York.  Langs’s father practised medicine from the family home, and Langs once told me that his father would sometimes allow his patients to recline on a sofa in the family living quarters if they needed to rest after a consultation or a treatment.  Robert Langs believed that having seen so many of his father’s patients recuperating on a couch, in full view, contributed to his desire to become a practising psychoanalyst!

Langs graduated from the Stuyvesant High School in Manhattan, and then he pursued his undergraduate education at the University of Pennsylvania, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, graduating in 1948.  He studied medicine at the University of Chicago, eventually qualifying as a physician.  He pursued further postgraduate medical and psychiatric training as an intern at the United States Public Service Hospital in Staten Island, New York; and thereafter, he became director of an addiction centre in Lexington, Kentucky, prior to the commencement of his psychiatric residency at the Albert Einstein School of Medicine and the Bronx Municipal Hospital Center, both in New York State.

In 1959, Langs embarked upon his lengthy psychoanalytical training at the Downstate Psychoanalytic Institute, based at the Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn, New York, where he undertook supervision with such distinguished teachers as Dr. Jacob Arlow and Dr. William Niederland (Langs, 2005).  His classmates included Dr. Harold Blum who would later become the Editor of the Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association and Executive Director of The Sigmund Freud Archives (Langs, 1992b).  And his teachers included none other than Dr. Max Schur who, years earlier, had, of course, served as personal physician to Sigmund Freud (cf. Schur, 1972).

Langs described his training as quite classical in orientation.  And some years later he summarised the essence of his experience at the Downstate Psychoanalytic Institute, noting that, according to his teachers, patients do little else than project their inner worlds into the consulting room, while analysts must do little more than render interpretations of this projected material (Langs, 1992b).  In fact, Langs (2002, p. 16) characterised himself as a veritable “psychoanalytic interpreting machine” at that time.  Thus, when he heard Dr. Donald Winnicott speak during a rare American lecture tour, Langs struggled to understand the more nuanced approach to treatment adopted by this British icon.  Although Langs (2002) eventually came to appreciate the magnificence of Winnicott, when he first listened to the Englishman lecture, one Saturday morning, at the Downstate Psychoanalytic Institute, at King’s County Hospital in Brooklyn, New York, he found him virtually incomprehensible, and he recalled that Winnicott might just as well have been speaking in Italian! (Langs, 1992b)

In our many conversations over the years, Langs never revealed with whom he undertook his own lengthy training analysis; and I never asked him, as I regard that a most personal matter, and not one upon which another person should ever intrude.  He did, however, write briefly about his analysis as a helpful experience in certain ways but that he also considered it to be “fraught with unrecognized frame-breaking, traumatic interventions of the kind that are commonly accepted without question or exploration” (Langs, 1998c, p. 187).  No doubt such early experiences propelled Langs to become a critic of some of the sloppier practices within classical psychoanalytical treatment, most especially the errors perpetrated by the psychotherapist or psychoanalyst.

Between 1953 and 1965, Langs held a post as Research Scientist in the Research Center for Mental Health at New York University, working with such distinguished psychoanalytical empiricists as Professor Robert Holt and Professor Leo Goldberg.  While at the Center for Mental Health, he coordinated a study of the effects of lysergic acid diethylamide (L.S.D.), exploring, in particular, the impact of this drug on the manifest content of dreams.  The young psychologist Helen Gediman (1998, p. 106), who assisted Langs on this project, reminisced, years later, that, “all of us staff members were soberly encouraged to take the drug, and then either look at subliminal stimuli or spend the night sleeping at the dream lab at Downstate Medical School, reporting our dreams each time we were awakened during a period of REM sleep.  We were also expected to describe at staff meetings our personal experiences with our own altered states of consciousness.  We didn’t know then that we were “tripping” – I do not believe the term had yet been coined.  Robert Langs was the medical consultant on that dicey project”.

Langs never held a permanent institutional position throughout his long career; indeed, he worked at many organisations, obtaining a wealth of experience.  Inter alia, Langs became Senior Interdisciplinary Research Fellow at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, in the Bronx, as well as Director of the Psychotherapy Program at the Lenox Hill Hospital, in New York City.  He also became Clinical Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at the Downstate Medical Center of the State University of New York and, additionally, Visiting Staff Psychiatrist at the Long Island Jewish-Hillside Medical Center in Glen Oaks, New York.  In later years, he served as Chief of the Center for Communicative Research at the Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City, New York, and as Visiting Clinical Investigator at the Nathan S. Kline Institute for Psychiatric Research in Orangeburg, New Jersey.

During the 1990s, Langs began to teach at the New School for Social Research in York City, and to work as Visiting Professor of Psychiatry at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, having previously held a post there as a Clinical Professor of Psychiatry.  The School of Psychotherapy and Counselling at Regent’s College in London (now the Regent’s School of Psychotherapy and Psychology at Regent’s University London) elected him to the post of Honorary Visiting Fellow.

Langs will best be remembered for his extraordinary books.  He wrote a very large number (e.g., Langs, 1973, 1974, 1976a, 1976b, 1976c, 1977, 1979, 1980, 1981a, 1982, 1983, 1989, 1991, 1992a, 1994, 1996, 1997, 1998a, 1998b, 2010), mostly concerned with the detailed practice of the psychoanalytical craft.  A passionate advocate of the study of boundaries and boundary violations, he sculpted his works with tremendous detail, often drawing upon the more anonymised findings of his clinical supervisees so that he would not have to expose the confidential narratives of his own patients.

“Langs will best be remembered for his extraordinary books”

Although we cannot hope to do justice to the magnitude of Langs’s clinical discoveries in the space of a brief tribute such as this, one need only scour the tables of contents of his books in order to ascertain their comprehensiveness and detail.  For instance, in Langs’s (1979) book on The Therapeutic Environment, he wrote chapters on “The Patient’s Unconscious Responses to Deviations”, “Deviations in a First Session”, and “Intervening in the Face of Deviations”, all of which reveal how the errors of understanding, or, indeed, of comportment, on the part of the psychoanalyst ultimately wend their way into the patient’s unconscious narrative, and that before one can analyse the genetic material of the patient’s psychopathology, one must first deal with the patient’s fury at the psychoanalyst or psychotherapist for having failed in some way.

Naturally, extremely disturbed or cruel behaviours – hopefully, a rarity – on the part of the psychoanalyst concerned Langs deeply.  Unsurprisingly, when Mrs. Evelyn Walker, a young woman sexually molested by her psychoanalyst, published her memoirs, A Killing Cure (Walker and Young, 1986), Langs championed this book, convinced that the general public needed to understand the devastating effects of boundary violations, whether grave or mild.

But on the whole, Langs focused the greater part of his attention upon those more minor infractions which clinicians perpetrate without even a second thought.  For instance, he reported that a male colleague had once picked up a female patient’s sweater, which she had almost left behind in the consulting room at the end of the session, and then handed this intimate article of clothing to her.  In the very next session, the female patient reported a dream in which her brother had fondled her breasts.  Langs regarded such material as a direct result of the framework deviation perpetrated by the analyst:  not the sort of deviation that would result in the revocation of one’s clinical licence or registration, but an intervention that violated analytical neutrality nonetheless and that resulted in clinical consequences for the analysand (Smith, 1989).

In his extensive work, which he came to refer to as either the adaptive-interactional approach to psychoanalysis or, alternatively, as communicative psychoanalysis, Langs strove to help students and colleagues alike to identify framework deviations perpetrated by clinicians (e.g., late arrival, making mistakes such as overcharging, etc.).  He regarded these errors as triggers for unconscious derivative material produced by the patient, often in disguised symbolic form.  The competent psychological clinician must, according to Langs, come to recognise his or her role in the production of the patient’s material and must, then, accept responsibility for such infractions, and interpret accordingly.

Robert Langs not only wrote copious textbooks for his clinical colleagues but, also, he produced more accessible tomes for the general, educated public.  I know that he cherished his relationship with Henry Holt and Company – a popular, mainstream publisher – and he hoped that books such as Rating Your Psychotherapist (Langs, 1989) and Take Charge of Your Emotional Life:  Self-analysis Day by Day (Langs, 1991) would reach a very wide audience.

He also served as editor or progenitor of many other book-length projects.  The publishers Jason Aronson appointed him as Series Editor of the library on “Classical Psychoanalysis and its Applications”.  In this capacity, Langs commissioned and edited numerous sterling books by leading authors.  He began by publishing the works of many of his teachers from the Downstate Psychoanalytic Institute, including Professor Judith Kestenberg (Kestenberg, Robbins, Berlowe, Buelte, and Marcus, 1975) and Professor Melitta Sperling (1978, 1982).  Other authors in this series included Humberto Nagera (1976), Victor Rosen (1977), William Meissner (1978), Stanley Olinick (1980), John Klauber (1981), Hanna Segal (1981), and Thomas Ogden (1982).  He also arranged a wonderful Festschrift about the work of Dr. Donald Winnicott (Grolnick, Barkin, and Muensterberger, 1978).  It may not be widely appreciated that the now legendary texts by Professor Otto Kernberg (1975, 1976, 1980) first appeared under Langs’s series editorship in this library of books.

Most helpfully, Langs also assembled the collected papers of the British psychoanalyst Dr. Margaret Little (1981), who had retired to the obscurity of rural Kent and whose important body of work had become increasingly forgotten over time.  This book contains a memorable interview between Dr. Langs and Dr. Little (Little and Langs, 1981), which remains among the most engaging psychoanalytical dialogues that I have ever read.

In similar vein, Langs published his extensive conversations with such major psychoanalytical thinkers as Dr. Harold Searles (Langs and Searles, 1980) and Dr. Leo Stone (Langs and Stone, 1980).  A consummate scholar, Langs (1981b) also edited a compendium of classic psychoanalytical texts which remains an indispensable reference work to this day.

In addition to his success in having produced a warehouse of books, Langs also edited journals.  He became Editor-in-Chief of the International Journal of Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy, also published by Jason Aronson, and launched, initially, as a quarterly periodical and then, after three volumes, as a cloth-bound annual.  The Editorial Board (whose composition changed over the years) included such distinguished practitioners as André Green, Ralph Greenson, Mark Kanzer, Masud Khan, John Klauber, Moses Laufer, Morton Reiser, Joseph Sandler, Hanna Segal, Roy Schafer, Victor Smirnoff, Helm Stierlin, and Robert Wallerstein.  Later, Dr. Langs became Editor of The Yearbook of Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy, also a hardbound volume, published by the Gardner Press.  The Editorial Board of this publication included  Christopher Bollas, Merton Gill, Peter Giovacchini, Masud Khan, Adam Limentani, Herbert Rosenfeld, Harold Searles, and Vamik Volkan.  Langs himself sometimes contributed to these cloth journals and yearbooks (e.g., Langs, 1976d, 1987).

Before long, Langs became a psychoanalytical celebrity in his own right.  The journalist and book-writer Mrs. Lucy Freeman (1984) published a very readable volume surveying Langs’s contributions, entitled Listening to the Inner Self.  And the psychotherapist and philosopher David Livingstone Smith wrote a seminal book about Langs’s work, Hidden Conversations:  An Introduction to Communicative Psychoanalysis.  I predict that, as time unfolds, many more books will appear about the work of Robert Langs.

Across a long career as a clinician, supervisor, teacher, researcher, writer, and editor, Bob Langs kept abreast of the increasingly sprawling psychoanalytical literature in a scholarly fashion.  In his seventieth year, he attempted to make sense of the many competing schools of psychoanalytical thought and practice by producing an edited book, Current Theories of Psychoanalysis (Langs, 1998b), which may well be the best text on the field, covering, as it does, such diverse strands as relational psychoanalysis (Gordon, Aron, Mitchell, and Davies, 1998), self psychology (Dorpat, 1998), Kleinian psychoanalysis (Weininger and Whyte-Earnshaw, 1998), communicative psychoanalysis (Smith, 1998), and so much more.

In later years Langs turned to playwriting.  He crafted a wonderful two-act theatre piece:  a monologue delivered by the early Freudian psychoanalyst and woman of letters Frau Lou Andreas-Salomé, set at her home in Göttingen, Germany, in 1930, a few years before her death in 1937.  Langs would often send me drafts of this one-woman play, originally entitled Lou Alone (Langs, n.d.), and subsequently rewritten as A Mirror to My Life:  Lou Andreas-Salome (Langs, 1999).  Knowing of my work in the media as a broadcaster on psychological topics, Langs asked me to help him stage a reading of this play in London.  Memorably, the wonderful actress Eleanor Bron offered to do a reading of this monologue in Swiss Cottage, North London, for a group of friends and colleagues; and we all sat entranced as this beautiful and elegant woman who had starred in such films as Help!,alongside the Beatles, and Alfie, with Michael Caine and, also, Two for the Road, with Albert Finney, brought “Frau Lou” to life in such an evocative way.  Regrettably, the play never received a formal Broadway-style production, but might, perhaps, be rediscovered one day by an enterprising producer.

Langs approached his creative playwriting with the same degree of professionalism which he applied to his clinical and teaching work.  Unsurprisingly, he succeeded in having his play published in book form as Freud’s Bird of Prey:  A Play in Two Acts (Langs, 2000), which he expanded from a one-hander into a four-hander, with a cast consisting not only of Lou Andreas-Salomé but, also, of the psychoanalytical stalwarts Dr. Helene Deutsch, Professor Sigmund Freud, and Dr. Viktor Tausk.

I first met Bob Langs more than thirty years ago, in 1986, when I interviewed him for a television programme called Fifty Minutes:  Psychological Analysis of Current Events.  Langs generously responded to my request and he spoke with magnificent clarity and engagement about his work in psychoanalysis.  Thereafter, we developed a friendly relationship, enhanced when I became a Lecturer in Psychotherapy in the School of Psychotherapy and Counselling at Regent’s College in London.  Throughout the 1990s, Langs would make regular pilgrimages to London, just to teach our students.  At that time, owing to the foresight of the gracious David Smith, who became the Dean of the School of Psychotherapy and Counselling, and who had boldly championed and explicated the works of Langs for many years, we created a European Society for Communicative Psychotherapy at Regent’s College, and Langs attended some of our meetings, which he enjoyed greatly.  It pleased me that he accepted our invitation to become an Honorary Visiting Fellow at Regent’s College, a post also awarded to such landmark figures as Mrs. Enid Balint, Dr. Charles Rycroft, and Professor Thomas Szasz.

I remember Langs’s visits to London very well indeed.  One could not help but relish his wise and impactful epithets.  Indeed, every time Langs spoke he uttered something truly memorable.  On one occasion, he lamented that one could not ever have an intelligent conversation about death, because it remains our deepest fear, and that even the best analysed person cannot grapple with its meaning sensibly.  Indeed, as he noted, “The inevitability of death, and its conscious and especially deep unconscious ramifications, involves a most unique and influential adaptation-evoking trigger that, first, is both an external and internal reality, and second, cannot in any conceivable way be fully mastered” (Langs, 1998c, p. 185).  He certainly regarded the fear of death as the primary fuel of neurotic illness.

Bob also noted that people undergoing very good psychoanalysis would often become depressed because of what he referred to as the “pain of contrast”.  Patients would come to appreciate how deeply the psychoanalyst or psychotherapist actually understands their situation; and this recognition could prompt a depression, because patients would now have to face the awful truth that their parents never attended to them with comparable sensitivity.

In a more playful manner, Langs suggested that, one day, it might be fun to open a “dating agency” staffed entirely by mental health professionals who could advise young lovers how to decipher one another’s unconscious communications.  He became convinced that a psychoanalytically orientated agency could be a helpful venture which would save single people a great deal of misery!

Bob contributed greatly to the intellectual climate at Regent’s College, and many students (and staff) became much enriched as clinical practitioners under his tutelage.  Over time, Langsian ways of understanding the deepest layers of unconscious communication pervaded our everyday world with increasing receptivity.

On one occasion, David Smith, my esteemed colleague and, also, my senior in the School of Psychotherapy and Counselling, sat in on one of my master’s degree course seminars on the theory of psychoanalysis.  He did so as part of quality control, to ensure that his lecturers taught in a satisfactory manner.  On the morning that David visited, I delivered a lecture on Donald Winnicott’s technique, and I took great delight in regaling my students with an unpublished story about Winnicott which I had only recently heard from Mrs. Barbara Dockar-Drysdale, one of Winnicott’s cherished supervisees and colleagues.  Dockar-Drysdale told me that, once, many years previously, she arrived at Winnicott’s office in Belgravia, London, only to be met at the door by Winnicott, in a state of panic, because his previous patient refused to get up off of the couch!  Dockar-Drysdale counselled her venerable supervisor Winnicott to tell the patient that he, Winnicott, would continue to hold this patient in mind until the next session but that the patient really had to leave.  Winnicott followed Dockar-Drysdale’s seemingly simple advice, and the patient did, indeed, depart successfully.

After the seminar, David congratulated me on my lecture to the students.  He did, however, start giggling about Dockar-Drysdale’s story of the patient who had overstayed his or her welcome in Winnicott’s office.  In true Langsian manner, David interpreted that, in spite of our shared affection for one another, I might have regarded him as an unwelcome intruder who would not get out of the classroom.  After David made this interpretation, I, too, smiled at the possibility that, although I welcomed David’s warm presence consciously, perhaps I did indeed resent being observed by my boss in this way, albeit unconsciously, and that I had unwittingly relayed the Dockar-Drysdale story as an unconscious communication to David Smith himself!

Langs took his association with Regent’s College very seriously, and I shall never forget the delight when, knowing of my interest in expanding the psychotherapy collection in our Tate Library, he sent us, at his own expense, a vast number of his American psychoanalytical journals, many annotated in his characteristic handwriting.  Scrolling through Langs’s marginalia, one could readily appreciate how seriously he digested each and every psychoanalytical publication in almost monastic detail.

A kind-hearted man at all times, Bob encouraged me sincerely in my own journey to become a writer.  Langs (2002) contributed a chapter about his memories of Donald Winnicott and about Winnicott’s importance in the history of psychoanalysis to a Festschrift that I edited (Kahr, 2002).  I owe Bob a great debt for having taking the time and trouble to help the next generation along in this way.

Langs enjoyed two marriages, first to Joan Schwartz, who bore him two sons and a daughter, and secondly, to the writer Phyllis Raphael, who often accompanied Bob on his London visits.  Phyllis, a charming woman, embraced her husband’s work fully, and became increasingly absorbed by psychoanalytical ideas.  I remember once we spoke at length about the possibility that she might write a biography of Sigmund Freud’s wife, Martha Bernays Freud.  As the spouse of a fellow genius-psychoanalyst herself, Phyllis may well have identified with Frau Freud!  No doubt Bob and Phyllis encouraged one another with their mutual passion for writing.  Phyllis wrote far better than Bob, having come from a background in fiction, and having worked as a journalist for The New York Times, the International Herald Tribune, and the Village Voice and, also, having taught creative writing at Columbia University in New York City, New York.  I warmly recommend her breathtakingly well written memoir, published in 2006, entitled Off the King’s Road:  Lost and Found in London, which she dedicated:  “For the one and only R.L.” (Raphael, 2006, n.p.).

Always fit and active, Bob loved nothing more than playing tennis at his summer home in East Hampton, Long Island.  Indeed, he hopped around the tennis court quite regularly, and quite vigorously, well into his seventies, and perhaps longer.  He also enjoyed gardening and barbecuing Iacono chickens!  He remained active until the very end, and he delivered his last public lecture, quite fittingly, at the stately Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.

With the passing of Robert Joseph Langs, psychoanalysis has lost a true superstar.  I very much doubt that we shall soon see the likes of such an intellectually fertile, bold, and warm-hearted man whose corpus of writings – behemoth in size – deserves, indeed commands, our respect and our close study.


Calef, Victor (1979).  Book Review of Robert Langs.  The Bipersonal Field.  Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association27, 702-705.

Dorpat, Theodore L. (1998).  Self Psychology:  An Overview.  In Robert Langs (Ed.).  Current Theories of Psychoanalysis, pp. 153-172.  Madison, Connecticut:  International Universities Press.

Echevarria, Juan Carlos (2014).  Guestbook.  30th December. [http://www.riversidememorialchapel.com/guestbook/show/1961?PHPSESSID=8cbf85a46964e3593c7ad95a521a20b4].

Freeman, Lucy (1984).  Listening to the Inner Self.  New York:  Jason Aronson.

Gediman, Helen K. (1998).  Influences:  Parents, Teachers, Colleagues.  In Joseph Reppen (Ed.).  Why I Became a Psychotherapist, pp. 101-113.  Northvale, New Jersey:  Jason Aronson.

Gordon, Robert M., Aron, Lewis; Mitchell, Stephen A., and Davies, Jody Messler (1998).  Relational Psychoanalysis.  In Robert Langs (Ed.).  Current Theories of Psychoanalysis, pp. 31-58.  Madison, Connecticut:  International Universities Press.

Grolnick, Simon A., Barkin, Leonard, and Muensterberger, Werner (Eds.).  (1978).  Between Reality and Fantasy:  Transitional Objects and Phenomena.  New York:  Jason Aronson.

Hodges, Andrew Gerry (2014).  Guestbook.  1st December.  [http://www.riversidememorialchapel.com/guestbook/show/1961?PHPSESSID=8cbf85a46964e3593c7ad95a521a20b4].

Kahr, Brett (Ed.).  (2002).  The Legacy of Winnicott:  Essays on Infant and Child Mental Health.  London:  H. Karnac (Books) / Other Press.

Kahr, Brett (2013).  Life Lessons from Freud.  London:  Macmillan / Pan Macmillan, Macmillan Publishers.

Kahr, Brett (2017).  Coffee with Freud.  London:  Karnac Books.

Kernberg, Otto F. (1975).  Borderline Conditions and Pathological Narcissism.  New York:  Jason Aronson.

Kernberg, Otto F. (1976).  Object-Relations Theory and Clinical Psychoanalysis.  New York:  Jason Aronson.

Kernberg, Otto F. (1980).  Internal World and External Reality:  Object Relations Theory Applied.  New York:  Jason Aronson.

Kestenberg, Judith; Robbins, Esther; Berlowe, Jay; Buelte, Arnhilt, and Marcus, Hershey (1975).  Children and Parents:  Psychoanalytic Studies in Development.  New York:  Jason Aronson.

Klauber, John (1981).  Difficulties in the Analytic Encounter.  New York:  Jason Aronson.

Langs, Robert (1973).  The Technique of Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy:  Volume I.  The Initial Contact, Theoretical Framework, Understanding the Patient’s Communications, The Therapist’s Interventions.  New York:  Jason Aronson.

Langs, Robert (1974).  The Technique of Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy:  Volume II. Responses to Interventions, The Patient-Therapist Relationship, The Phases of Psychotherapy.  New York:  Jason Aronson.

Langs, Robert (1976a).  The Therapeutic Interaction:  Volume I.  Abstracts of the Psychoanalytic Literature.  New York:  Jason Aronson.

Langs, Robert (1976b).  The Therapeutic Interaction:  Volume II.  A Critical Overview and Synthesis.  New York:  Jason Aronson.

Langs, Robert (1976c).  The Bipersonal Field.  New York:  Jason Aronson.

Langs, Robert (1976d).  The Misalliance Dimension in Freud’s Case Histories:  I.  The Case of Dora.  International Journal of Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy5, 301-317.  New York:  Jason Aronson.

Langs, Robert (1977).  The Therapeutic Interaction:  A Synthesis.  New York:  Jason Aronson.

Langs, Robert (1979).  The Therapeutic Environment.  New York:  Jason Aronson.

Langs, Robert (1980).  Interactions:  The Realm of Transference and Countertransference.  New York:  Jason Aronson.

Langs, Robert (1981a).  Resistances and Interventions:  The Nature of Therapeutic Work.  New York:  Jason Aronson.

Langs, Robert (Ed.).  (1981b).  Classics in Psychoanalytic Technique.  New York:  Jason Aronson.

Langs, Robert (1982).  The Psychotherapeutic Conspiracy.  New York:  Jason Aronson.

Langs, Robert (1983).  Unconscious Communication in Everyday Life.  New York:  Jason Aronson.

Langs, Robert (1987).  A New Model of the Mind.  The Yearbook of Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy:  Volume 2.  1987, pp. 3-33.  New York:  Gardner Press.

Langs, Robert (1989).  Rating Your Psychotherapist.  New York:  Henry Holt and Company.

Langs, Robert (1991).  Take Charge of Your Emotional Life:  Self-analysis Day by Day.  New York:  Henry Holt and Company.

Langs, Robert (1992a).  Science, Systems, and Psychoanalysis.  London:  H. Karnac (Books).

Langs, Robert (1992b).  Personal Communication to the Author.  15th May.

Langs, Robert (1994).  Doing Supervision and Being Supervised.  London:  H. Karnac (Books).

Langs, Robert (1996).  The Evolution of the Emotion-Processing Mind:  With an Introduction to Mental Darwinism.  London:  H. Karnac (Books).

Langs, Robert (1997).  Death Anxiety and Clinical Practice.  London:  H. Karnac (Books).

Langs, Robert (1998a).  Ground Rules in Psychotherapy and Counselling.  London:  H. Karnac (Books).

Langs, Robert (Ed.).  (1998b).  Current Theories of Psychoanalysis.  Madison, Connecticut:  International Universities Press.

Langs, Robert (1998c).  On Becoming a Psychoanalytic Myth Maker.  In Joseph Reppen (Ed.).  Why I Became a Psychotherapist, pp. 179-194.  Northvale, New Jersey:  Jason Aronson.

Langs, Robert (1999).  A Mirror to My Life:  Lou Andreas-Salome.  Unpublished Typescript.

Langs, Robert (2000).  Freud’s Bird of Prey:  A Play in Two Acts.  Phoenix, Arizona:  Zeig, Tucker and Company.

Langs, Robert (2002).  D.W. Winnicott:  The Transitional Thinker.  In Brett Kahr (Ed.).  The Legacy of Winnicott:  Essays on Infant and Child Mental Health, pp. 13-22.  London:  H. Karnac (Books) / Other Press.

Langs, Robert (2005).  Personal Communication to the Author.  10th June.

Langs, Robert (2010).  Freud on a Precipice:  How Freud’s Fate Pushed Psychoanalysis Over the Edge.  Lanham, Maryland:  Jason Aronson / Rowman and Littlefield Publishers.

Langs, Robert (n.d.).  Lou Alone.  Unpublished Typescript.

Langs, Robert, and Searles, Harold F. (1980).  Intrapsychic and Interpersonal Dimensions of Treatment:  A Clinical Dialogue.  New York:  Jason Aronson.

Langs, Robert, and Stone, Leo (1980).  The Therapeutic Experience and its Setting:  A Clinical Dialogue.  New York:  Jason Aronson.

Little, Margaret I. (1981).  Transference Neurosis and Transference Psychosis:  Toward Basic Unity.  New York:  Jason Aronson.

Little, Margaret I., and Langs, Robert (1981).  Dialogue:  Margaret Little / Robert Langs.  In Margaret I. Little.  Transference Neurosis and Transference Psychosis:  Toward Basic Unity, pp. 269-306.  New York:  Jason Aronson.

Meissner, William W. (1978).  The Paranoid Process.  New York:  Jason Aronson.

Nagera, Humberto (1976).  Obsessional Neuroses:  Developmental Psychopathology.  New York:  Jason Aronson.

Ogden, Thomas H. (1982).  Projective Identification and Psychotherapeutic Technique.  New York:  Jason Aronson.

Olinick, Stanley L. (1980).  The Psychotherapeutic Instrument.  New York:  Jason Aronson.

Raphael, Phyllis (2006).  Off the King’s Road:  Lost and Found in London.  New York:  Other Press.

Rosen, Victor H. (1977).  Style, Character and Language.  Samuel Atkin and Milton E. Jucovy (Eds.).  New York:  Jason Aronson.

Schur, Max (1972).  Freud:  Living and Dying.  New York:  International Universities Press.

Segal, Hanna (1981).  The Work of Hanna Segal:  A Kleinian Approach to Clinical Practice.  New York:  Jason Aronson.

Smith, David Livingston (1989).  An Interview with Robert Langs.  Changes, 7, 117-119.

Smith, David Livingston (1991).  Hidden Conversations:  An Introduction to Communicative Psychoanalysis.  London:  Tavistock / Routledge.

Sperling, Melitta (1978).  Psychosomatic Disorders in Childhood.  Otto E. Sperling (Ed.).  New York:  Jason Aronson.

Sperling, Melitta (1982).  The Major Neuroses and Behavior Disorders in Children.  New York:  Jason Aronson.

Walker, Evelyn, and Young, Perry Deane (1986).  A Killing Cure.  New York:  Henry Holt and Company.

Weininger, Otto, and Whyte-Earnshaw, Christina  (1998).  The Work of Melanie Klein.  In Robert Langs (Ed.).  Current Theories of Psychoanalysis, pp. 197-225.  Madison, Connecticut:  International Universities Press.



Professor Brett Kahr has worked in the mental health field since 1976.  He is Senior Fellow at Tavistock Relationships at the Tavistock Institute of Medical Psychology in London, and he is also Senior Clinical Research Fellow in Psychotherapy and Mental Health at the Centre for Child Mental Health in London, as well as Visiting Professor in the Faculty of Media and Communication at Bournemouth University.  A Consultant in Psychology to The Bowlby Centre, he is also Trustee of the Freud Museum London and of Freud Museum Publications.  Kahr is the author or editor of nine books, including the best-selling Sex and the Psyche and, more recently, Tea with Winnicott and Coffee with Freud; and he has published over fifty other titles in his capacity as Series Editor or Series Co-Editor of several monograph collections including the “Forensic Psychotherapy Monograph Series”, the “History of Psychoanalysis Series”, and “The Library of Couple and Family Psychoanalysis”.  A historian of psychoanalysis as well as a media psychologist of long-standing, he is former Resident Psychotherapist at B.B.C. Radio 2 and spokesperson for the B.B.C. mental health campaign “Life 2 Live”.  He works in private practice in North London with individuals and couples.



Professor Brett Kahr

Suite 6

4, Marty’s Yard

17, Hampstead High Street


London NW3 1QW

United Kingdom.

E-Mail Address:  Kahr14@aol.com.

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