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Nestor D. Kapusta
Assoc. Prof. Priv.-Doz. Dr. med. univ. Nestor D. KapustaHead of Couple Relationship Research

Department of Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy
Position: Associate Professor

ORCID: 0000-0002-0970-4341
T +43 1 40400 30710

Further Information


Psychiatry; Psychoanalysis; Psychotherapy

Research group(s)

  • Couple Relationship Research
    Head: Nestor D. Kapusta
    Research Area: Psychoanalysis showed from its beginnings how interpersonal relationships influence psychic and physical development of human beings. Couple relationships with excessive conflicts, communication problems, and disorders in the capacity to love as well can have a significant impact on mental and physical health of both partners and the overall family structure. Relationship problems have been acknowledged by the new DSM-V and ICD-11 classifications as health-relevant factors.

Research interests

Couple Relationship Research encompasses various forms of research on the interaction between two persons. Besides marital couples, also dyads such as therapist-patient or physician-patient interactions can be in the focus of Couple Relationship Research. An important framework to understand and formulate dynamic concepts of interaction in couples, among others, is the psychoanalytic object relations theory. By means of this conceptual framework, couple-therapy, individual therapy and supervisory processes can be examined in conceptual, qualitative and quantitative studies. Dyadic structures allow to examine aspects such as the Capacity to Love (Kernberg, 2011, Kapusta et al. 2018) and it's relation to psychopathology and relationship quality; Suicidality and it's relation to affective states, loss and mourning and circumstances such as the request for assisted suicide which exerts pressure on the physician or a requested layperson (Briggs et al.,2022).

Techniques, methods & infrastructure

Together with our international cooperating partners we adopt various methodologies in the Couple Relationship Research Group. Clinical research ranges from case-control studies (eg. borderline personality, suicidality) to the operationalization of psychoanalytic concepts (eg. “capacity to love”) and psychometric evaluations of instruments (eg. personality factors, temperament). We share methodological approaches reviewed and adapted by the Working Group on Qualitative Psychoanalytic Research Methods at MUW which can be used in qualitative interviews (focus groups and face-to-face interviews) and allow for psychoanalytically enriched data collection, evaluation and interpretation.


  • ELLIPSE E-Lifelong Learning in Suicide Prevention (2019)
    Source of Funding: EU, ERASMUS+
    Principal Investigator
  • Entwicklung eines österreichweiten Curriculums in Suizidprävention: SUPRA Gatekeeper-Training (Responsible) (2013)
    Source of Funding: PHARMIG,
    Principal Investigator
  • Lithium in drinking water and prescriptions effects on suicide mortality (2012)
    Source of Funding: FWF (Austrian Science Fund), Stand-Alone Projects
    Principal Investigator

Selected publications

  1. Bernegger, A. et al., 2015. Influence of Sex on Suicidal Phenotypes in Affective Disorder Patients with Traumatic Childhood Experiences M. Mazza, ed. PLoS ONE, 10(9), p.e0137763. Available at:
  2. Briggs, S. et al. (2022) ‘Psychoanalytic understanding of the request for assisted suicide’, The International Journal of Psychoanalysis, 103(1), pp. 71–88. Available at:
  3. Philipp, A.C. et al. (2020) ‘Coparenting Intervention for Expectant Parents Affects Relationship Quality: A Pilot Study’, The Tohoku Journal of Experimental Medicine, 252(1), pp. 33–43. Available at:
  4. Knasmüller, P. et al. (2019) ‘Maternal suicide during pregnancy and the first postpartum year in Austria: Findings from 2004 to 2017’, Psychiatry Research, 281, p. 112530. Available at:
  5. Kapusta, N.D. et al. (2018) ‘Measuring the Capacity to Love: Development of the CTL-Inventory’, Frontiers in Psychology, 9. Available at: