Fritz Redl (09 September 1902 in Klaus near Schladming in Austria – 9 February 1988 in North Adams, Massachusetts) was an Austrian-American child psychoanalyst and educator.
Losing his mother two months after his birth, Redl spent most of his childhood and youth in Vienna. Redl got in touch with the progressive educational methods of the Austrian Wandervogel and decided to study philosophy. After taking his doctorate on the epistemological principles of Kant's ethics, Redl trained as a psychoanalyst under the influence of August Aichhorn and Anna Freud. During the decade that followed he completed training in psychoanalysis at the Vienna Psychoanalytic Institute. His dual focus on the education and socialization of children, and on psychoanalytic models of understanding personality development and of the treatment of children, helped specialize his work throughout his career.
In 1936 he moved to the United States where he was invited by the Rockefeller Foundation to participate in a project about adolescence.
His first two publications (1933-34, in German) - on learning difficulties and exam phobias - were followed by an influential article on 'Group Formation and Leadership' published in Psychiatry in 1942. There he explored the role of what he called the 'central person' in group dynamics, singling out ten main types of central figures, ranging from the hero or the tyrant, to the good influence or the bad example.
His interest in group dynamics extended into his work with disturbed children, where he developed the concept of the Life Space Interview, as a means of crisis intervention in the life of the troubled child. To help disturbed troubled youth, he suggested the importance of creating a life space that would nurture and inspire positive relationships. He proposed that this be done by structured, engaging activities and by the use of language. Redl also explored the role of behavioral contagion in promoting regression in children, and how close attention to the child's milieu could help enhance behavioral control. His work with groups, summer camps and residential care came together in the residential setting of Pioneer House.
- ___The Aggressive Child (1957)
- ____When We Deal with Children (1966)