Heimann was born in Danzig, Germany in 1899, and went on to train as a psychoanalyst in Berlin. Soon after coming to London in 1933 she became Klein’s secretary – the two had previously met in Berlin – and was subsequently analysed by her. Heimann played a central role in the Controversial Discussions between 1942 and 1944, and contributed two important papers expounding Kleinian theory to the debate.
The two women were very close and mutually supportive until the early 1950s, when Heimann’s theoretical ideas, particularly around the role of countertransference, caused significant disagreement between them. This seemingly irreconcilable rift eventually led to her leaving the Kleinian group. From this point Heimann became part of the Independent, or ‘Middle’ Group. She was made training secretary of the British Society’s Training Committee in 1954.
Heimann died in London in 1982, aged 83.