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Mosher, P.W. Richards, A. (2005). The History of Membership and Certification in the Apsaa: Old Demons, New Debates. Psychoanal. Rev., 92(6):865-894.

(2005). Psychoanalytic Review, 92(6):865-894

The History of Membership and Certification in the Apsaa: Old Demons, New Debates

Paul W. Mosher, M.D. and Arnold Richards, M.D.

“It is true that in all fields a person may repeat the same mistake for innumerable years and call it experience.”

—C. P. Oberndorf,

A History of Psychoanalysis in America, p.24:6

AA. Brill, “the first American psychoanalyst,” can be regarded as the founder of the American Psychoanalytic Association (APsaA), and in today's APsaA the influence of Brill's personality is still visible. Clear traces of the ways questions of status and inclusion determined his outlook on life can still be found in how the issues of certification and membership are framed in the APsaA today.

Historian Paula Fass has linked Brill's professional attitude toward membership and status to the dynamics of his character and his personal history (Fass, 1968). Brill was a poor boy from eastern Europe (Kanczuca, Galicia/Austro-Hungary) who emigrated to America in the late 1880s. When he was fourteen years old he landed in New York alone, with two dollars in his pocket, determined to make a place for himself in society. He studied medicine at Columbia at the dawn of the twentieth century, and trained as a psychiatrist for four years at New York's Central Islip State Hospital. On a trip he made to Europe, to broaden his knowledge of international trends in psychiatry, Brill was captivated by the dynamic psychiatry of Freud. He pursued additional training at the psychoanalytically informed Burgholzli in Switzerland, and paid a visit to Freud himself, in Vienna, who selected Brill to translate his works into English.

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