Professor Max Kassowitz (1842–1913) of the University of Vienna

  • Vasiliki G. Petousi
  • Lazaros C. Triarhou


Historical research allows the rectification of an undeserved historical neglect for scientists of international renown in their time. With new biographical details, the present article reconstructs the life and work of Professor Max Kassowitz, a key figure in pediatric medicine and neurology in turn-of-the-century Vienna. Kassowitz, an academic pediatrician of humble Jewish-Bohemian origins, left valuable contributions on congenital syphilis and the treatment of rickets and dental diseases in children. A child prodigy, he graduated from the University of Vienna at the age of 21. From 1881 until his retirement in 1906 he headed the Public Children’s Institute, which he expanded by adding departments of diverse specialties. He assigned the neurology clinic to the young Sigmund Freud; from that period date the latter’s landmark papers in pediatric neurology. Kassowitz published 250 papers and a dozen voluminous monographs on various biomedical themes, including osteogenesis, infectious diseases, and immunity. Older sources testify to his remarkable critical and diagnostic ability. Kassowitz considered the invigorating effects of alcohol one of the biggest errors of science; he and his wife Emilie were actively involved in the Anti-Alcohol Movement. During the last two decades of his life, he became immersed in issues of biological philosophy. On the basis of his scientific accomplishments, Max Kassowitz was a pioneer who merits recognition as having played a vital role in the advancement of medicine in Central Europe.
Keywords: Max Kassowitz, Sigmund Freud, History of Medicine, Pediatric Neurology, University of Vienna

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