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Stjepan Betlheim (1898–1970)
  1. KBC, Clinic for Medical Psychology, Kišpatićeva12, 10 000 Zagreb, Croatia

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    The Croatian neuropsychiatrist Stjepan Betlheim was born in Zagreb in 1898. He began his medical studies in Graz and graduated at the University of Vienna in 1922. He specialised in neuropsychiatry in Vienna, Berlin, Zürich, and Paris. In Vienna he worked in the neuropsychiatric clinic headed by Professor J Wagner-Jauregg. During his specialisation, he published six articles in distinguished Austrian and German neurological or neuropsychiatric journals. The article he wrote in collaboration with Heinz Hartmann, Über Fehlreaktionen bei der Korsakoffschen Psychose(On parapraxes in the Korsakow psychosis), published in Arch f Psychiat u Nervenkrank(1925;72:275–86) is known best. As a medical student, Betlheim showed interest in psychoanalysis and attended Freud’s lectures. His educators in psychoanalysis were Paul Schilder, Helen Deutsch, Sandor Rado, and Karen Horney. He returned to Zagreb in 1928, and began work as neuropsychiatrist. In the same year he founded the station for mental-hygiene. He continued working as a psychoanalyst in his private practice. He gave many public lectures, and wrote popular articles on psychoanalysis. In 1941, after the German and Italian armies occupied Yugoslavia, the profascist quisling Ante Pavelić became the president of Croatia. Dr I Petrić, the Minister of health (16 April 1941 to 10 October 1942) sent the group of mostly Jewish physicians and their families, to Bosnia, in the region with endemic syphilis, aimed at protecting them from prosecution and deportation to camps. Betlheim very soon voluntarily joined Marshal Tito’s army—the antifascist movement—with his little daughter Ruth and wife Marie Luise, neé Morgenroth. After the second world war he returned to Zagreb and became Professor of Neuropsychiatry in 1959. He wrote the first Croatian psychiatric textbook (1959), the bookNeuroze i njihovo liječenje (The treatment of neuroses, 1963), the articles forMedicinska enciklopedija (Medical Encyclopedia, 1957), and also wrote for numerous Croatian and foreign medical journals. He was a propagator of psychoanalysis, psychoanalytic psychotherapy, and group analysis not only in Croatia but also in other republics of the former Yugoslavia. Betlheim thought that neurology and psychiatry were two branches of medicine which had many connections and there was a need for neuropsychiatry. He was a member of the Vienna Psychoanalytic Society from 1928 to 1938, and of the International Psychoanalytical Association since 1952, the New York Academy of Sciences, The Royal Society of Medicine (London), Group-Analytic Society (London), and French Psychosomatic Society. For many years he was the WHO Consultant for Mental Health. In 1998, Croatia commemorated the 100th anniversary of his birth with a stamp.