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

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

by Elizabeth Ann Danto
 

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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

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.

Editorial Reviews

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

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.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780231506564
Publisher:
Columbia University Press
Publication date:
01/22/2005
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
376
File size:
9 MB

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)

What People are Saying About This

Peter Gay

'I am a liberal of the old school,' wrote Sigmund Freud in a late letter to the German novelist, Arnold Zweig. A rare comment that underscores the significance of Freud's political leanings. Elizabeth Danto's invaluable, carefully researched and highly readable book on the free psychoanalytic clinics in Vienna, Berlin and elsewhere, impressively illuminates the master's influence on the understudied field of social psychoanalysis, its tough-minded and too little discussed liberalism.

Peter Gay, Sterling Professor of History Emeritus, Yale University, author of Freud: A Life for Our Time

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.


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