William Menninger and American psychoanalysis, 1946-48.


In the aftermath of World War II, a struggle ensued over the direction of American psychoanalysis. Led by William Menninger, who reluctantly assumed the presidency of the American Psychoanalytic Association in 1946, a cohort of American-born psychoanalysts sought to make their profession more responsive to other medical practitioners and the general public. Insisting that divisive theoretical debates should be relegated to the past, these psychoanalysts promoted a medicalized, Americanized and popularized version of psychoanalysis that deliberately blurred the distinction between psychiatry and psychoanalysis. They were opposed by a group of more orthodox psychoanalysts, including many émigrés, who viewed their efforts as undermining psychoanalysis from within.


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