Wilhelm Stekel

Wilhelm Stekel (March 18, 1868June 25, 1940) was an Austrian physician and psychologist, who became one of Sigmund Freud's earliest followers, a self-described apostle. He later had a falling-out with Freud. His works were translated in many languages.


Born in Bujon, Bukowina, he wrote a book called Auto-erotism: A Psychiatric Study of Onanism and Neurosis, first published in English in 1950. He is also credited with coining the term paraphilia, to replace "perversion." Stekel contrasted what he called "normal fetishes" from extreme interests, "They become pathological only when they have pushed the whole love object into the background and themselves appropriate the function of a love object, e.g., when a lover satisfies himself with the possession of a woman's shoe and considers the woman herself as secondary or even disturbing and superfluous (p. 3).

His autobiography was also published in 1950. Stekel died in London, by his own hand. He was married twice and left two children. His wife Hilda Binder Stekel died in 1969.

He analysed, among others, the psychoanalysts Otto Gross and A. S. Neill.

A biographical account appeared in The Self-Marginalization of Wilhem Stekel (2007) by Jaap Bos and Leendert Groenendijk, which also includes his correspondence with Sigmund Freud.

In popular culture

He is quoted in J. D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye. This quote is also used in the anime Ghost in the Shell. It has also been speculated that Stekel was the analyst after which Italo Svevo modeled the narrator in his famous Confessions of Zeno.

Selected publications (translated into English)

  • Stekel W. (1943). The Interpretation of Dreams: New Developments and Technique. Liveright
  • Stekel W., Gutheil E. (1950). The Autobiography of Wilhelm Stekel. Liveright
  • Stekel W., Boltz O.H. (1950). Technique of Analytical Psychotherapy. Liveright
  • Stekel W., Boltz O.H. (1999 reprint). Conditions of Nervous Anxiety and Their Treatment
  • Stekel W., Boltz O.H. (1927). Impotence in the Male: The Psychic Disorders of Sexual Function in the Male. Boni and Liveright
  • Stekel W., Van Teslaar J.S. (1929). Peculiarites of Behavior: Wandering Mania, Dipsomania, Cleptomania, Pyromania and Allied Impulsive Disorders. H. Liveright
  • Stekel W. (1929). Sadism and Masochism: The Psychology of Hatred and Cruelty. Liveright
  • Stekel W. (2003 reprint). Bisexual Love. Fredonia
  • Stekel W. (1922). Compulsion and Doubt (Zwang und Zweifel) Liveright
  • Stekel W. (1922). The Homosexual Neuroses
  • Stekel W. (1911). Die Sprache des Traumes: Eine Darstellung der Symbolik und Deutung des Traumes in ihren Bezeihungen
  • Stekel W. (1911). Sexual Root of Kleptomania. J. Am. Inst. Crim. L. & Criminology
  • Stekel W. (1961). Auto-erotism: a psychiatric study of masturbation and neurosis. Grove Press
  • Stekel W. (1926). Frigidity in women Vol. II. Grove Press


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