Theodor Reik was a prominent psychoanalyst who trained as one of Freud's first students in Vienna, Austria. Reik received a Ph.D. degree in psychology from the University of Vienna in 1912. His dissertation, a study of Flaubert's Temptation of Saint Anthony, was the first psychoanalytic dissertation ever written. After receiving his doctorate, Reik devoted several years to studying with Freud, who financially supported Reik and his family during his psychoanalytic training. During this time, Reik was analyzed by Karl Abraham. Reik, who was Jewish, emigrated from Germany to Holland in 1934 and to the United States in 1938 in flight from Nazism. In 1944, he became a naturalized citizen of the United States.
Rejected from the dominant community of medical psychoanalysts in the United States because he did not possess an M.D. degree, Reik went on to found one of the first psychoanalytic training centers for psychologists, the National Psychological Association for Psychoanalysis, which remains one of the largest and best-known psychoanalytic training institutes in New York City.
As part of Reik's conflict with the medical psychoanalysis community, he participated in the first lawsuit which helped define and legitimize the practice of psychoanalysis by non-physicians.
If there be anything that can be called genius, it consists chiefly in ability to give that attention to a subject which keeps it steadily in the mind, till we have surveyed it accurately on all sides.