Prof. Dr. med. Dr. phil. Horst Kächele, Ulm
After a long and painful illness Prof. Dr. med. Dr. phil. Horst Kächele died on 28 June 2020 surrounded by his family. With his passing, international psychoanalysis loses one of the pioneers of research in psychoanalysis, a dedicated, pugnacious psychoanalyst and a warm-hearted personality. With great passion he championed a vision of open, self-critical and empirically based psychoanalysis, which, through careful, demanding research, opens doors to the academic world of universities, psychiatric clinics, evidence-based medicine, without neglecting art and literature. He developed into a marathon runner for empirical research in psychoanalysis. Even as a young professor, in the 1980s, Horst Kächele founded the Ulm Workshop for Empirical Research in Psychotherapy, which received great national and international acceptance and admiration. Many of the leading psychoanalytical research groups from all over the world presented their projects in the innovative, creative and inspiring atmosphere of the historically famous building of the Ulm University, and networked with each other. A second milestone was the “Sonderforschungsbereich 129, Psychotherapeutic Processes" of the German Research Foundation, which brought psychoanalysis a great deal of recognition in the world of science and supported many young scientists who were able to write their doctoral theses and habilitations within this framework. Thus, many of them, including myself (Marianne Leuzinger Bohleber), owe their academic careers to Horst Kächele. As creator of the so called “Ulm School of Psychotherapy” as well as being chief of the Center for Psychotherapy Research in Stuttgart (1988-2004), he built a bridge between psychoanalysis and the international community of psychotherapy researchers, and became president of the Society for Psychotherapy Research in the 1990s. After studying medicine in Marburg, Leeds (England) and Munich (1963-69), Horst Kächele accepted the invitation of Helmut Thomä for a scientific position in the Department of Psychotherapy at Ulm University. He combined his research activities with his psychoanalytic training at the Ulm Institute for Psychoanalysis (1970 – 1975). Helmut Thomä and Horst Kächele became one of the most fruitful psychoanalytic research duos. Together they wrote a three volume textbook for psychoanalytic therapy which has since been translated into 23 languages and is now considered a classic. The two authors received the Mary Sigourney Award in 2004 for this achievement. Horst was passionately committed to the dissemination of psychoanalysis, especially in Eastern Europe, where he is revered with great gratitude as a teacher. In 1996 he became Honorary Professor of the Faculty of Psychoanalytic Medicine, University St Petersburg. As a staff member of the Research Training Program (RTP) of the International Psychoanalytical Association, he has made a significant contribution to the international promotion of young researchers in psychoanalysis. Especially among his colleagues in South America he is revered as a messenger of psychoanalytic research. With many of them he remained in intensive exchange, through the mail list of the RTP Fellows, the Open Door Review or joint research projects, as e.g. with Juan Pablo Jimenez as Profesor visitande permanente del Universidad de Chile. So, Horst was a most productive researcher with a large amount of publications but also a great master of intergenerational networking. In a generous manner, with a unique dedication and passion, he literally carried his psychoanalytic and scientific knowledge all over the world, always ready to engage in fierce controversy and debate and to set out for new shores of knowledge. Thus, at the age of 65, he obtained a Ph.D., and after his retirement as Professor Emeritus in the Medical Faculty, he accepted a new professorship at the private International Psychoanalytical University in Berlin, which, as he said, became a "new institutional home".
Horst Kächele leaves behind a large gap, as psychoanalyst, researcher and dear friend. He always seemed to us like a candle burning at both ends, perhaps one of the reasons why he left us so soon, at the age of 76. We share our grief with his wife Beate, his three daughters, the grandchildren, his brother, friends and colleagues. We will miss him!
Marianne Leuzinger-Bohleber & Mark Solms