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Menaker, E. (1988). Early Struggles in lay Psychoanalysis: New York in the Thirties, Forties, and Fifties. Psychoanal. Rev., 75(3):373-379.

(1988). Psychoanalytic Review, 75(3):373-379

Early Struggles in lay Psychoanalysis: New York in the Thirties, Forties, and Fifties

Esther Menaker

I cannot begin this paper without reiterating what you undoubtedly know: Freud wrote The Question of Lay Analysis in defense of Theodor Reik who was being sued by a patient as a “quack.” Reik, of course, survived that suit, as well as Hitler's Europe. He came to the United States, only to be denied membership in the psychoanalytic community. Freud's brilliant brief on so-called “lay-analysis” did not legitimize Reik to the New York Psychoanalytic Society. These medical analysts operated on a principle of selective orthodoxy in which the economic motive superceded the tenets of Freud's thinking. But Reik turned adversity into a productive enterprise — namely the training of nonmedical analysts, the founding of NPAP. Thus, in celebrating Freud's treatise we are indirectly celebrating our own origins. But this is a tale of the forties and I am ahead of my story.

I am grateful for this opportunity to present some living history of the past half century of psychoanalysis to you; for indeed not only has the world of psychoanalysis and psychotherapy changed, but the cultural climate of the world as a whole is so different from the way it was in the thirties that I myself am sometimes startled by the fact that in one lifetime I have experienced so much change. In the late twenties when I was still a college student and had majored in the hard sciences, I became interested toward the end of my undergraduate studies in the humanities and especially in psychology. But while the courses were of some interest, they were limited and barren of any concern for the deeper processes of human emotion, conflict, will, or imagination.

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