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Freud's Free Clinics : Psychoanalysis & Social Justice, 1918-1938
Elizabeth Ann Danto
Columbia University Press / Softcover / May 2007
9780231131810 (ISBN-10: 023113181X)
Freud / Social & Political Issues
price: $43.50 (may be subject to change)
352 pages
Not in Stock, usually ships in 3-6 business days

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.

Reviews and Endorsements:

"Historians and readers with a grasp of psychoanalysis will discover a gold mine. Essential for academic collections in psychology and modern European history." — Library Journal

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

"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, PsycCRITIQUES

"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, London Review of Books

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

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

"A must read for anyone interested in psychoanalysis and progressive social responsibility." — Psychologist-Psychoanalyst

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

"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." — Social History of Medicine

"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." — International Journal of Psychoanalysis

"A worthwhile and gripping story." — Leslie Leighninger, Journal of Sociology and Social Welfare

"A welcome addition to the literature." — Eric J. Engstrom, H-Net

"A book that deserves to be more widely read." — Richard Ruth, The Maryland Psychologist

"Interesting and challenging reading for the question of the social impact of psychoanalysis." — W. W. Meissner, S.J., M.D., Bulletin of the Menninger Clinic

"Freud's Free Clinics makes a worthwhile contribution to the historiography of psychoanalysis." — Greg Eghigian, H-Ideas

"'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


Introduction--The Conscience of Society

1. 1918 - 1922: Society Awakes

Treatment will be free - 1918

The polyclinic will be opened in the winter and will grow into a Psi institute - 1919

The position of the polyclinic itself as the headquarters of the psycho-analytic movement - 1920

An Ambulatorium should exist for psychic treatment in the widest sense of the word - 1921

A Psychoanalytic Ambulatorium in Vienna - 1922

2. 1923 - 1932: The Most Gratifying Years

This help should be available to the great multitude - 1923

The honor proceeds from the Social Democratic Party - 1924

A warm sympathy for the fate of these unfortunates - 1925

Although absent from the opening of the Clinic, I am all with you - 1926

Of special value in the promotion of [psychoanalysis is] the establishment of Institutes and Outpatient Treatment Clinics - 1927

Freud knew exactly how things were in the world. But before he could go outside, he first had to know what was inside - 1928

The very group of patients who need our treatment are without resources - 1929

Free or low-cost analyses...[were] at least a small beginning - 1930

As a social-democratic town councilor, Dr. Friedjung has furthered our interests as psychoanalysts - 1931

Male applicants for treatment [were] regularly more numerous than female - 1932

3. 1933 - 1938: Termination

The Berlin Psychoanalytic... Policlinic... came to an end - 1933

Psychoanalysis [as] the germ of the dialectical-materialist psychology of the future - 1934

A written Children's Seminar of Marxist psychoanalysis - 1935

Social psychoanalysis - 1936

These were traumatic times and we talked little about them later - 1937

The fate of psychoanalysis depends on the fate of the world - 1938

About 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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