Elizabeth Gero-Heymann 1905-2009

Click Here To Read: Biographical Sketch of Elizabeth Gero-Heymann by Abby Adams-Silvan on this website.

Elizabeth Gero-Heymann 1905-2009

  Lilo, as she was known to all her friends, died February 15, 2009.  Much has been said and written about Lilo throughout her long life and there will be a memorial service in the future where much more will be said by a gathering of her relatives, psychoanalysts and friends.  At this juncture a few words in her honor and to mark the occasion of her departure from us should be written. Lilo’s life spanned practically all of the twentieth century and almost a decade of the twenty first. To listen to her speak about the events of her life was to be a witness of history, the past  made palpable in the present as she revisited it, and wafted you with her on the wings of memory. When she arrived in London the Blitz greeted her with bombs as she practiced  psychoanalysis. But the bombs did not bother her too much, since she had a more terrifying memory than the Blitz: being interrogated by the Nazis in Prague! She had other fonder memories of Prague: she  was analyzed by Fenichel there, before leaving eventually for London where she worked with Anna Freud in Hampstead and developed her private practise. Eventually she got to New York: she had  helped Edith Jacobson to escape from Europe, at a time when Jacobson’s life was in peril from the Nazis. When Lilo arrived in New York, psychoanalysts, such as Phyllis Greenacre respected her and were only too willing to refer to her, given her courage and clinical skills. As a psychoanalyst I imagine she was a creature of intuition and empathy. I never heard her expounding about theory or abstraction. And yet she could sum up clinical complexity with rare savvy. She applied the same kind of intuitive scrutiny to character assessment: she had no time for hypocrisy or intellectual grandiosity. Her character assassinations were witty, scathing, dismissive, rash but often as accurate as they were biting. If this was sublimated aggression, it packed a wallop nonetheless. She would not apologize for this element of her character which she no doubt came by honestly in the course of her tragic, yet transcended life, and neither will I. She was  a woman, “take her for all in all, we shall not look upon her like again!”
                                          Eugene Mahon   February 16, 2009

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