The Repressed Returns

  • Stephen Frosh


The impact of collaboration between psychoanalysts, psychotherapists and the Nazis continued until well after the demise of the Third Reich. For many years, as noted in Chapter 3, this history was a relatively secret one, as the psychoanalysts set about rebuilding their organisation and their myths, specifically presenting themselves — like many other Germans — as always having been victims and possibly opponents of Nazism. The debate over whether psychoanalysis had survived or not during the Nazi time was relevant to this issue: for those who claimed that it had been suppressed, there was an easier route through to defending its anti-Nazi credentials. Helpfully for this side, Ernest Jones himself asserted that psychoanalysis did not survive in Europe during the war years (Chrzanowski, 1975). For those who accepted that psychoanalysis had survived, the issue became one of establishing that it had managed to maintain some form of resistance to corruption, and hence that there was a certain degree of heroism to be found in those who had kept the psychoanalytic flame burning. Karen Brecht, whose role in clarifying history has been very significant, notes about the situation in the thirty years after the war that, ‘Most German publications on the history of psychoanalysis during the Third Reich, originating as they did from contemporary witnesses who presented the analysts as victims, were apologetic and not really informative… The picture of German psychoanalysts presented by oral history was one of secret resistance fighters and inner emigrants’ (Brecht, 1995, p. 291).


German Society Central Executive Executive Council Training Analysis Provisional Acceptance 
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© Stephen Frosh 2005

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  • Stephen Frosh

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