Early American Psychoanalysis in…Baltimore?

The early history of psychoanalysis in Baltimore is chronicled in a piece from a rather unlikely source: Baltimore Style Magazine. In addition to detailing some of the early work on psychoanalysis conducted in Baltimore, the article describes how the American Psychoanalytic Association began in Baltimore and only moved to New York City in the 1930s. As the piece describes,

In the United States, New York is the city perhaps most frequently associated with the practice— it is home to more psychoanalysts than any other U.S. city, as any Woody Allen fan knows. Yet Baltimore, too, played a major role in the early days of psychoanalysis. Many of the field’s first luminaries lived here, and the city witnessed the development of several groundbreaking psychological treatments. In fact, the very first meeting of the American Psychoanalytic Association, on May 9, 1911, was held in the Stafford Hotel in Mount Vernon.

When Freud, along with Carl Jung, visited America in 1909, it was at the invitation of the pioneering psychologist G. Stanley Hall, president of Clark University in Massachusetts, where Freud gave a lecture on his controversial new method of treatment. His talk was attended by a group of prominent U.S. physicians who were so vitalized by the new ideas that they gathered together to form an American branch of the Psychoanalytic Association, which was established, with Freud’s blessing, two years later here in Baltimore.

The piece goes on to say:

The early records of the American Psychoanalytic Association have been lost, but we know that 15 eminent psychiatrists were present at the Baltimore meeting, including Hall; Freud’s close colleague and biographer Ernest Jones; and the Austrian-born psychiatrist Abraham Brill, who went on to translate a number of Freud’s works and introduce them to the American public. Also present was the influential New York neurologist Smith Ely Jelliffe, who counted among his patients the playwright Eugene O’Neill. (“Just consulted Jelliffe, famous specialist here, on Mama’s case,” O’Neill wrote to his eldest brother Jamie in 1924. “He says hopeless.”)

The association’s charter members also included a number of Baltimore-based physicians such as Adolf Meyer, a professor of psychiatry at Johns Hopkins University. Meyer had attended seminars conducted by Jung, and later became known as the first psychiatrist to make a habit of collecting detailed case histories of his patients, and to insist they could best be understood through consideration of their past in the context of their family lives.

Read the full article online here.

Share on Facebook

About Jacy Young

Jacy Young is a doctoral student in the History and Theory of Psychology program at York University. Her dissertation explores the early history of questionnaires in American psychology.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

* Copy This Password *

* Type Or Paste Password Here *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>