Thirty years after Sigmund Freud's 1909 lectures at Clark University, the psychoanalytic community in the United States had grown large enough to support a psychoanalytic journal focused on culture. American Imago had its European antecedent in the psychoanalytic journal Imago that was, as Freud tells us, "concerned with the application of psycho-analysis to non-medical fields of knowledge" (1926f, p. 269-70). In Felix Deutsch's obituary for Hanns Sachs, he writes, "When this journal [Imago ] was suppressed in Europe in 1938, Sachs brought it to life again here in the States" (1947, p. 5). Freud wrote to Sachs that he was initially not pleased with the idea for the journal but that was primarily because it was difficult to "'let the light be extinguished completely in Germany"' (Gay, 1988, p. 634).
American Imago was first published in Boston, Massachusetts, in November of 1939. Russell Jacoby (1983) tells us that Otto Fenichel "reported in deepest confidence that. . . Sachs was beginning a new magazine, American Imago. . . charged by Freud to rally the classical, and now embattled, analysts" (p. 126). Sachs writes, "when the plan for this periodical was proposed to Freud he greeted it wholeheartedly and consented to become its editor" (1939, p. 3).
Hanns Sachs (1881-1947) assumed editorial responsibilities as publisher and editor, and continued in that role until close to his death. From 1946 until 1963 George Wilbur (1887-1976) was the publisher and managing editor. Harry Slochower noted that Wilbur "kept the broad and deep channels of applied psychoanalysis open in the country," and praises Wilbur's "unassuming generosity which . . . saved the very existence of the journal" (1967, p. 287). Harry Slochower (1900-1991) came to the journal in 1964 and continued as Editor in Chief until his death. He arranged for the journal to be published by Wayne State University Press, thus expanding American Imago 's original base in the psychoanalytic community to a wider academic audience. In 1987 Martin Gliserman took over editorial responsibility for the journal; he proposed a new format for the journal and approached Johns Hopkins University Press which began publishing the journal in 1991.
From the very beginning American Imago has been an interdisciplinary journal that has examined many fields of study—anthropology, art, film, history, literature, music, philosophy, psychoanalysis, religion, society, and politics. For its part, psychoanalysis has served as a prism through which to view a whole range of cultural works. Thus articles in the journal's first volume addressed such diverse subjects as the ritualized games of verbal insult known as "the dozens," masochism, a play by Shakespeare, anti-Semitism, and mythical heroes. The journal has been responsive over the years to changes in the intellectual climate, and has broadened its psychoanalytic vision, without ever abandoning its original purpose of understanding culture.
See also: Imago; Sachs, Hanns.
Deutsch, Felix. (1947). In memoriam—Hanns Sachs 1881-1947. American Imago, 4 (2), 3-14.
Freud, Sigmund. (1926f). Psycho-analysis. SE, 20: 261-270.
Gay, Peter. (1988). Freud: A life for our time. New York: W.W. Norton.
Jacoby, Russell. (1983). The repression of psychoanalysis: Otto Fenichel and the political Freudians. New York: Basic Books.
Sachs, Hanns. (1939). Editorial note. American Imago, 1 (1), 3
Slochower, Harry. (1967). George B. Wilbur at 80. American Imago, 24 (4), 287-289.