Freud's Free Clinics: Psychoanalysis & Social Justice, 1918-1938 / Edition 1

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Overview

Today many view Sigmund Freud as an elitist whose psychoanalytic treatment was reserved for the intellectually and financially advantaged. However, in this new work Elizabeth Ann Danto presents a strikingly different picture of Freud and the early psychoanalytic movement. Danto recovers the neglected history of Freud and other analysts' intense social activism and their commitment to treating the poor and working classes.

Danto's narrative begins in the years following the end of World War I and the fall of the Habsburg Empire. Joining with the social democratic and artistic movements that were sweeping across Central and Western Europe, analysts such as Freud, Wilhelm Reich, Erik Erikson, Karen Horney, Erich Fromm, and Helene Deutsch envisioned a new role for psychoanalysis. These psychoanalysts saw themselves as brokers of social change and viewed psychoanalysis as a challenge to conventional political and social traditions. Between 1920 and 1938 and in ten different cities, they created outpatient centers that provided free mental health care. They believed that psychoanalysis would share in the transformation of civil society and that these new outpatient centers would help restore people to their inherently good and productive selves.

Drawing on oral histories and new archival material, Danto offers vivid portraits of the movement's central figures and their beliefs. She explores the successes, failures, and challenges faced by free institutes such as the Berlin Poliklinik, the Vienna Ambulatorium, and Alfred Adler's child-guidance clinics. She also describes the efforts of Wilhelm Reich's Sex-Pol, a fusion of psychoanalysis and left-wing politics, which provided free counseling and sex education and aimed to end public repression of private sexuality.

In addition to situating the efforts of psychoanalysts in the political and cultural contexts of Weimar Germany and Red Vienna, Danto also discusses the important treatments and methods developed during this period, including child analysis, short-term therapy, crisis intervention, task-centered treatment, active therapy, and clinical case presentations. Her work illuminates the importance of the social environment and the idea of community to the theory and practice of psychoanalysis.

Columbia University Press

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Editorial Reviews

Village Voice - Nathan Deuel

[Danto's] meticulous research and awesome grasp of the movement's early days... give a surprisingly nimble account.

PsycCRITIQUES - Paul M. Brinich

Danto's portrait of psychoanalysis between the two world wars does us a great service... We have much to learn from these pioneers, and Elizabeth Ann Danto deserves our thanks for bringing their efforts to our attention.

London Review of Books - Christopher Turner

Danto's meticulously researched year-by-year account of the spread of these psychoanalytic clinics focuses on Freud's pioneering, idealistic, socially committed side.

Times Literary Supplement - Ritchie Robertson

Danto's book is inspiring in highlighting how a generation of analysts sought to grasp the sources of human misery.

Psychoanalytic Social Work - William Borden

Danto's work will take its place as a classic work in the history of psychoanalytic thought.

Journal of Sociology and Social Welfare - Leslie Leighninger

A worthwhile and gripping story.

H-Net - Eric J. Engstrom

A welcome addition to the literature.

The Maryland Psychologist - Richard Ruth

A book that deserves to be more widely read.

Bulletin of the Menninger Clinic - W.W. Meissner
Interesting and challenging reading for the question of the social impact of psychoanalysis.
H-Ideas - Greg Eghigian

Freud's Free Clinics makes a worthwhile contribution to the historiography of psychoanalysis.

Bulletin of the Menninger Clinic - W. W. Meissner

Interesting and challenging reading for the question of the social impact of psychoanalysis.

Choice

A crucial corrective to the view of psychoanalysis as politically inert and socially disengaged.

Village Voice
[Danto's] meticulous research and awesome grasp of the movement's early days... give a surprisingly nimble account.

— Nathan Deuel

PsycCRITIQUES
Danto's portrait of psychoanalysis between the two world wars does us a great service... We have much to learn from these pioneers, and Elizabeth Ann Danto deserves our thanks for bringing their efforts to our attention.

— Paul M. Brinich

London Review of Books
Danto's meticulously researched year-by-year account of the spread of these psychoanalytic clinics focuses on Freud's pioneering, idealistic, socially committed side.

— Christopher Turner

Choice

A crucial corrective to the view of psychoanalysis as politically inert and socially disengaged.

Times Literary Supplement
Danto's book is inspiring in highlighting how a generation of analysts sought to grasp the sources of human misery.

— Ritchie Robertson

Psychologist-Psychoanalyst

A must read for anyone interested in psychoanalysis and progressive social responsibility.

Psychoanalytic Social Work
Danto's work will take its place as a classic work in the history of psychoanalytic thought.

— William Borden

Social History of Medicine

A dramatic story elegantly told by Danto who has written a compelling, engaging and fascinating account of a largely under-researched aspect of the history of psychoanalysis. With great flair she captures the spirit and ethos of a time when psychoanalysts were committed to a sense of civic responsibility.

International Journal of Psychoanalysis

A book that could stimulate inquiry about the way psychoanalysis addresses the social world, and its own place within it, to the benefit of the field.

Journal of Sociology and Social Welfare
A worthwhile and gripping story.

— Leslie Leighninger

H-Net
A welcome addition to the literature.

— Eric J. Engstrom

The Maryland Psychologist
A book that deserves to be more widely read.

— Richard Ruth

Bulletin of the Menninger Clinic
Interesting and challenging reading for the question of the social impact of psychoanalysis.

— W. W. Meissner, S.J., M.D.

H-Ideas
Freud's Free Clinics makes a worthwhile contribution to the historiography of psychoanalysis.

— Greg Eghigian

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780231131810
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press
  • Publication date: 5/4/2007
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 352
  • Product dimensions: 5.70 (w) x 8.70 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Elizabeth Ann Danto is associate professor and chair of the Foundations of Practice at Hunter College School of Social Work, City University of New York.

Columbia University Press

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Read an Excerpt

It is possible to foresee that the conscience of society will awake and remind it that the poor man should have just as much right to assistance for his mind as he now has to the life-saving help offered by surgery.... Then institutions and out-patient clinics will be started, to which analytically-trained physicians will be appointed so that men who would otherwise give to drink, women who have already succumbed under the burden of their privations, children for whom there is no choice but running wild or neurosis, may be made capable by analysis of resistance and efficient work. Such treatments will be free. -- Sigmund Freud, 'Lines of Advance in Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy' (1918)

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Table of Contents

Introduction--The Conscience of Society1. 1918 - 1922: Society AwakesTreatment will be free - 1918The polyclinic will be opened in the winter and will grow into a Psi institute - 1919The position of the polyclinic itself as the headquarters of the psycho-analytic movement - 1920An Ambulatorium should exist for psychic treatment in the widest sense of the word - 1921A Psychoanalytic Ambulatorium in Vienna - 19222. 1923 - 1932: The Most Gratifying YearsThis help should be available to the great multitude - 1923The honor proceeds from the Social Democratic Party - 1924A warm sympathy for the fate of these unfortunates - 1925Although absent from the opening of the Clinic, I am all with you - 1926Of special value in the promotion of [psychoanalysis is] the establishment of Institutes and Outpatient Treatment Clinics - 1927Freud knew exactly how things were in the world. But before he could go outside, he first had to know what was inside - 1928The very group of patients who need our treatment are without resources - 1929Free or low-cost analyses...[were] at least a small beginning - 1930As a social-democratic town councilor, Dr. Friedjung has furthered our interests as psychoanalysts - 1931Male applicants for treatment [were] regularly more numerous than female - 19323. 1933 - 1938: TerminationThe Berlin Psychoanalytic... Policlinic... came to an end - 1933Psychoanalysis [as] the germ of the dialectical-materialist psychology of the future - 1934A written Children's Seminar of Marxist psychoanalysis - 1935Social psychoanalysis - 1936These were traumatic times and we talked little about them later - 1937The fate of psychoanalysis depends on the fate of the world - 1938

Columbia University Press

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