Deutsches Insitut für Psychologische Forschung und Psychotherapie (Göring Institute)

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The Deutsches Institut für Psychologische Forschung und Psychotherapie (German Institute for Psychological Research and Psychotherapy) in Berlin was the first independent institution for training in, research on, and practice in psychotherapy. It represented a significant realization of the aims of medical and nonmedical psychotherapists in Germany, an ethical capitulation to the threats and opportunities presented by the Nazi regime, and a controversial continuity of professional development into the postwar period.

The institute was founded in 1936 as a registered association under the supervision of the Ministry of the Interior. Its founding came about as a result of the desire of a number of psychotherapists in the German General Medical Society for Psychotherapy under Matthias Heinrich Göring to functionally unite the various schools of psychotherapy in an organization independent of the control of university psychiatrists and Nazi health activists, as well as the aim of the Nazi party and government to destroy the "Jewish" German Psychoanalytic Society without disposing of the practical benefits of psychoanalysis. Although officially dedicated to the creation of a Neue Deutsche Seelenheilkunde (New German Psychotherapy) in line with Nazi ideals and Germanic tradition, the so-called Göring Institute functioned more significantly as a locus for the development and application of generally short-term psychotherapeutic techniques in service to state, society, military, and business in Nazi Germany.

The institute was initially funded by the psychotherapists themselves, but in 1939 the German Labor Front assumed formal supervision over the institute and poured a great deal of money into its operations. This support was increasingly supplemented by money from the Luftwaffe (German Air Force) and from German industry and business. Individual psychotherapists and psychoanalysts also worked under the aegis of the SS (Schutzstaffel) and the Wehrmacht (German Army). In 1942 the institute became a member of the Reich Research Council, which, under the leadership of Herman Göring, was to mobilize science for the war effort. In 1944 followed the creation of the Reichinstitut für Psychologische Forschung und Psychotherapie im Reichsforschungsrat (Reich Institute for Psychological Research and Psychotherapy in the Reich Research Council), the final organizational manifestation of the Göring Institute. The institute came to an end in May 1945 with the end of the Second World War.

Psychoanalysts at the institute were prominent in the outpatient clinic inherited from the German Psychoanalytic Society. In teaching, training, and practice, the Jungians, Adlerians, and Freudians maintained a degree independence from each other. Most of the Freudians, out of a combination of preference and position at the institute, adopted a neo-Freudian emphasis on social adjustment and short-term therapy. Gerhard Scheunert was Göring's first choice to head the clinic because of his expertise in short-term methods. The "neo-analysis" of Harald Schultz-Hencke was also influential. Many German analysts of the postwar period practiced and/or trained at the Göring Institute. Some, like Harald Schultz-Hencke, Felix Boehm, and Carl Müller-Braunschweig, were heavily criticized after the war for their involvement with a Nazi-sponsored entity.

Of all the groups at the institute, the psychoanalysts had the most political difficulty under Nazism because of their identification with Freud, a Jew. In 1938, as a protective measure in the wake of the November pogrom, their group was designated simply as "Work Group A." With the arrest of outpatient director John Rittmeister in 1942, this group was formally dissolved and the psychoanalysts' activities at the institute were further camouflaged.

Geoffrey Cocks

See also: Germany AllegemeineÄllegemeineÄrztliche Gesellschaft für Psychotherapie; Berliner Psychoanalytische Poliklinik; France, Göring, Matthias Heinrich; Laforgue, René; Second World War; Müller-Braunschweig, Carl; Rittmeister, John Friedrich Karl; Schultz-Hencke, Harald Julius Alfred Carl-Ludwig.


Cocks, Geoffrey. (1997). Psychotherapy in the Third Reich: The Göring Institute (2nd edition). New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers.

Lockot, Regine. (1985). Erinnern und Durcharbeiten: zur Geschichte der Psychoanalyse und Psychotherapie im Nationalsozialismus. Frankfurt am Main: S. Fischer.

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Deutsches Insitut für Psychologische Forschung und Psychotherapie (Göring Institute)

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