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Jones, E. (1920). Dr. James Jackson Putnam. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 1:6-16.

(1920). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 1:6-16

Dr. James Jackson Putnam

Ernest Jones

One of the greatest blows that the young science of psycho-analysis has suffered has been the death of Dr. J. J. Putnam, who was amongst the staunchest of its supporters. It is our mournful duty here to relate a record of his life and career, especially in so far as the latter concerns our science.

Dr. Putnam was born in Boston on October 3, 1846, and was therefore just over 72 when he died on November 4, 1918. He had a distinguished ancestry from some of the most notable families of New England. His father was a well-known physician in Boston, and his grandfather was for many years Judge of the Supreme Court of the State of Massachusetts. His mother's father, who married a Cabot, was Dr. James Jackson, one of the most notable figures of his time in American medicine; Dr. Putnam published a memoir of his life in 1905.

Dr. Putnam graduated at Harvard University in 1866, at the early age of 20. Soon afterwards he continued his medical education abroad, studying at Leipsic, Vienna, and London under Rokitansky, Meynert, and Hughlings Jackson respectively. His decision to specialise in neurology was thus early evident, and on his return to America he was appointed Lecturer on Nervous Diseases at the Harvard Medical School, in 1872. In 1893 he was made the first Professor of Diseases of the Nervous System at that University, and held the appointment until 1912, when he was made Professor Emeritus. The other institution with which he was most prominently connected was the Massachusetts General Hospital, where he established a neurological clinic and was its chief from 1874 to 1909. In the earlier years he maintained a neuropathological laboratory in his own house, the forerunner of the present Department of Neuropathology at the Harvard Medical School. As a teacher of elementary students he was perhaps not at his best.

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