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Reed, J.W. (1994). Menninger. The Family and the Clinic: By Lawrence J. Friedman. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1990. 472 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 63:139-142.

(1994). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 63:139-142

Menninger. The Family and the Clinic: By Lawrence J. Friedman. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1990. 472 pp.

Review by:
James W. Reed

Among professional historians, "great man" history is out of fashion. We deal now with modal personality types and social process, and we make sure to include the struggles and contributions of ordinary people in our stories. School children once learned that Lincoln freed the slaves. Meetings of professional scholars are now devoted to the proposition that the slaves freed themselves, despite Lincoln's ambivalence and ineptitude. Lawrence Friedman's Menninger might be read as a book about a great man, Karl Menninger, M.D., a psychoanalyst who founded a distinguished clinic for the mentally ill and won an international reputation for his vision of how to understand and treat sick souls. But Lawrence Friedman, the author of three previous books on abolitionists and race relations, attempted in this book to get beyond the heroic model of medical history and to provide a psychoanalytically and sociologically sophisticated interpretation of an important medical institution. As the first scholar granted complete access to family and institutional sources, Friedman took full advantage of both rich archives and living informants in an energetic effort to write a family history that would also be a better form of institutional history. The result is a kind of hybrid, neither biography nor sociology, from which much is gained, and a good deal is lost.

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