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Martin, J. (2009). Forward to James Jackson Putnam: A Review of Putnam Camp: Sigmund Freud, James Jackson Putnam, and the Purpose of American Psychologyby George Prochnik. New York: Other Press, 2006, 471 pp.. Contemp. Psychoanal., 45(1):154-162.

(2009). Contemporary Psychoanalysis, 45(1):154-162

Forward to James Jackson Putnam: A Review of Putnam Camp: Sigmund Freud, James Jackson Putnam, and the Purpose of American Psychologyby George Prochnik. New York: Other Press, 2006, 471 pp.

Review by:
Jay Martin, Ph.D.

One of the Most Frequently Discussed Episodes in the life of Sigmund Freud is his 1909 voyage to America to deliver a series of lectures on psychoanalysis at Clark University in Wooster, Massachusetts, where Stanley Hall, one of America's leading psychologists, was president. Numerous articles, chapters in books, and even a mystery novel have examined and speculated about the influence this trip had on Freud, its effect on his relations to Jung, and the impact that it had on the psychological movement, especially in the United States.

Prochnik enlarges this discussion by shifting the focus from Freud to the American psychological-psychoanalytic movement and especially to one of its leading proponents, Professor James Jackson Putnam of Harvard University. He was regarded as America's most distinguished expert on the treatment of mental disorders. Far more than Stanley Hall, Putnam was the object of Freud's voyage to the United States. To win over Putnam to adherence to psychoanalysis as a credible science in the new world was important. Interest in psychoanalysis was demonstrably already running high in America. Were Putnam to give it his stamp of approval, Freud's science would gain in acceptance. Where Europeans remained skeptical of Freud's theories, Americans were ready to embrace them.

Putnam was won over even before Freud's arrival, and he was immediately taken into Freud's inner circle. True, he would never be as intimate a colleague as Ferenczi or Jones, but he was given a public leadership position by Freud. For instance, he wrote the lead article for the first issue of Imago, he was the main speaker at the Third International Psycho-Analytic Congress in Weimar, and he and Freud conducted an extensive correspondence between 1908 and Putnam's death in 1918.

Not understood by most historians of and commentators on psychoanalysis is how few leading American psychologists of the time reacted as strongly as Putnam did to Freud's ideas. William James, John Dewey, J.

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