Almost 2 decades before germ theory was laid down, Ignaz Semmelweis became the first physician to suggest that hand-washing could prevent the spread of puerperal fever and related deaths. Ironically, after being ridiculed for his theory, he died in a mental asylum, due to an infection from a wound.
Hungarian-American psychiatrist Thomas Szasz, who spent most of life teaching at the State University of New York Health Science Center, was known for his controversial claim that mental illnesses aren’t illnesses at all. Part of the anti-psychiatry movement, he penned books such as The Myth of Mental Illness.
Hungarian Jewish doctor and forensic pathologist Miklós Nyiszli was sent to Auschwitz along with his family. He survived the concentration camp to tell the tale in his iconic book Auschwitz: A Doctor’s Eyewitness Account. Though he escaped death, he was forced to conduct experiments on fellow inmates under Dr. Josef Mengele.
Sándor Ferenczi is best remembered for his research on free association and the psychoanalytic theory. Initially an army doctor, he specialized in subjects such as neuropathology and hypnosis. He was also close to Sigmund Freud and later taught at the University of Budapest. He also established the Hungarian Psychoanalytic Society.
Hungarian physician and author Max Nordau was the son of a rabbi. After practicing medicine in Budapest for a while, he went to Paris and began writing for Neue Freie Presse. A major figure behind the Zionist Organization, he penned The Conventional Lies of Our Civilization, which was banned in several countries.
The son of Hungarian philosopher Bernhard Alexander, Franz Alexander grew up to become a physician and a pioneer of psychosomatic medicine. Known for his research on the role of emotional experience on physical illness, he also applied psychoanalytic principles to the study of criminal behavior.
Born to a physician father in Hungary, Max Thorek studied medicine. Migrating to Chicago after his younger brother’s death in a pogrom, he built a career in reconstructive surgery. He was also an amateur photographer and had penned several books on the subject. He also founded the International College of Surgeons.