Phenomenology, Psychology, and Ideology

A New Look at the Life and Work of Else Voigtländer

George Heffernan

pp. 1-49

The recent renaissance of interest in early phenomenology has been accompanied by a revival of interest in the work of early women phenomenologists and phenomenological psychologists. One of them is Else Voigtländer (1882–1946), whose early studies of the emotions have deservedly drawn the special attention of scholars. A student of Theodor Lipps and Alexander Pfänder in the Munich School of Phenomenology and Phenomenological Psychology, Voigtländer was the first female phenomenological psychologist to earn a Ph.D. at a university in the German Empire (1909/1910). There is no evidence that she attempted to pursue an academic career, which in any case would have been extremely difficult for a woman in her time and place. Rather, Voigtländer’s alternative career path took her into welfare theory and correctional practice. In the Weimar Republic, she assumed the leadership of a major women’s prison, the Frauenstrafanstalt Waldheim in Saxony. Voigtländer continued in her leadership position during the Third Reich, becoming a member of several NSDAP-supervised organizations after 1933, as well as of the NSDAP in 1937. She served at her post until the arrival of the Russian Army in Waldheim in 1945, when she was arrested and imprisoned at Waldheim. She died in 1946, and her final year is shrouded in obscurity. Clearly, Voigtländer’s early works do not tell her entire story, which seems to be as complicated as her whole life.

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Full citation:

Heffernan, G. (2021). Phenomenology, Psychology, and Ideology: A New Look at the Life and Work of Else Voigtländer. Phenomenological Investigations 1, pp. 1-49.

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