It is with great sadness that we hereby inform you on the passing of our esteemed colleague Harald Picker on September 6, 2022.

Harald Picker distinguished himself by his great humanity and benevolent authority towards his patients, supervisees and students. We have lost a psychoanalyst who taught and exemplified psychoanalytic thinking with great openness and tolerance.

Harald Picker began his professional career as a teacher. As an educator, his interest soon turned to the socially disadvantaged in society: young people who grew up under the most difficult conditions without reliable caregivers, which severely limited their ability to love and work and resulted in gross dissocial behavior.

Picker came into contact with psychoanalysis and completed his training analysis with Adalbert Wegeler, one of the pioneers of today’s Vienna Working Group for Psychoanalysis. Fascinated by the power of the unconscious, he committed himself to the psychoanalytic conception of man and applied it in socio-pedagogical and therapeutic fields of work with socially marginalized groups.

In 1972 he founded a therapeutic residential community for dissocial adolescents, sponsored by the city of Vienna, where they lived together according to psychoanalytic principles. Relationship skills were to be acquired through insight and working through unconscious conflicts and the post-maturing of empathic, stable and non-judgmental substitutes. With this pilot project, Harald Picker took on an important pioneering role in youth welfare, which ultimately led to the dissolution of the large Viennese homes in the home reform of 2000.

The interweaving of social therapeutic and psychoanalytical knowledge was finally implemented and deepened in the founding of outpatient counseling and therapy facilities as “Social Therapeutic Institutes” starting in 1975. Harald Picker’s life was marked by intensive lecturing, teaching and supervisory activities in the field of social work, the penal system and psychoanalysis. His work was honored in 2007 when he was awarded the Austrian Cross of Honor for Science and Art.

In 1985, together with Klaus Rückert, he founded a “free school of psychoanalysis,” the Vienna Psychoanalytic Seminar. The education to become a psychoanalyst was to succeed through free discourse in regular free evenings and advanced training events. From the beginning, students and teachers met each other on an equal footing, socio-critical thinking and personal engagement with psychoanalysis was encouraged in an atmosphere of appreciation for all things human, as a reaction to the authoritarian-conservative tendencies of other psychoanalytic associations.

Shortly after Sigmund Freud University was founded in 2003, Harald Picker joined the teaching team and continued to work actively as a teaching analyst in the psychoanalytic specialised training, in cooperation with the Psychoanalytic Seminar Innsbruck.

Harald Picker will be remembered as a person who felt connected to his fellow human beings in love. He knew how to nurture love and not hate in his patients in order to awaken solidarity and the ability to love in them.

Anita Dietrich Neunkirchner
Student and colleague of Harald Picker