The Professionalization of Psychology in Nazi Germany

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It has been widely believed that the discipline of psychology in Germany was attacked, or even ceased to exist, under National Socialism. Indeed, faced with political persecution and anti-Semitism, many of the leading minds of the field were forced to emigrate. Yet in The Professionalization of Psychology in Nazi Germany, Ulfried Geuter shows that, rather than disappearing, German psychology rapidly grew into a fully developed profession during the Third Reich. How was this possible? Geuter places his answer in the larger context of German military and economic history. He makes it clear that the rising demands of a modern industrial nation gearing up for war afforded psychology a unique opportunity in Nazi Germany: to transform itself from a marginal academic discipline into a state-recognized and -sanctioned profession. More than any other institution or industry, the Wehrmacht, seeking psychological expertise for its officer and personnel selection program, provided a ready market through which the professionalization of psychology was realized. Whereas in 1930 only thirty professional psychologists worked in public organizations, a decade later the Wehrmacht alone filled around 250 professional positions and employed 450 psychologists. In turn, such demand for professional expertise led to increasing support for academic departments, to faculty collaborating with the army, and to the expansion and standardization of training programs. This process of professionalization culminated in 1941 with the creation of a state examination, or Diplom, a professional psychology degree (which remained largely unchanged until the early 1960s). Although the Wehrmacht's demand for psychological services dropped along with the fortunes of the Nazi regime, the institutional and professional base that psychology had firmly carved for itself was here to stay, and academic psychology continued to train "diploma psychologists" for the duration of the war and into the postwar era
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"What is especially valuable is the author's consideration of ethical questions, such as the function of science in a system of political domination. The book provides important historical lessons for advanced undergraduate students, graduate students, and faculty in the social sciences." H.L. Minton, Choice

"Geuter's critical focus on the profession as culpable is novel and welcome." Carol Sherrard, The Times Higher Education Supplement

"...sensibly abridged, smoothly translated, and egregiously priced....The bibliography contains an exhaustive list of published primary and secondary sources as well as a wide range of archival sources. As such, this book is a sterling example of the type of new scholarship from both sides of the Atlantic on the history of modern German society under National Socialism and in particular the history of the professions in modern Germany." Geoffrey Cocks, Psychoanalytic Books: A Quarterly Journal of Reviews

"This book, translated from earlier German editions...traces in detail the process whereby psychology was transformed from a highly academic science into a civilservice profession as a result of militarization...Geuter argues that authorities embraced psychology mainly for practical reasons, as a source of useful techniques...The great strength of this study is that it reconstructs the professional milieu of German psychology on the basis of exhaustive archival research and thus provides unprecedented detail on the activities of a community of scientists as they adapted to the demands of powerful political forces." James H. Capshew, ISIS.

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Product Details

Table of Contents

Notes to the readers of the English edition; Preface; Glossary of abbreviations; 1. Introduction; 2. On the way to becoming an independent discipline; 3. The potential of psychology for selecting workers and officers: diagnostics, character and expression; 4. Psychologists at work: new professional activities in industry and army and their expansion in the war economy; 5. Legitimation strategies and professional policy; 6. University courses in psychology and the development of the diploma examination regulations (DPO) of 1941; 7. The diploma examination regulations and their consequences; 8. The disbanding of Luftwaffe and army psychology in 1942 and the reorientation of psychology in war; 9. Self-deception, loyalty and solidarity: professionalization as a subjective process; 10. Science, profession and power; Postscript; Comments on sources; Index.

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