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Masserman, Jules Homan


MASSERMAN, JULES HOMAN (1905–1994), U.S. psychiatrist and psychoanalyst. Born in Chudnov, Poland, Masserman was taken to the United States in 1908. He grew up in Detroit, Michigan, and received his medical degree from Wayne University. Masserman first taught at the University of Chicago. In 1952 he was appointed professor of neurology and psychiatry at Northwestern University's medical school, where he taught until the 1970s and served for several years as co-chairman of the psychiatry department. Masserman's thought and experience in psychiatry and psychotherapy are set forth in his textbook, The Principles of Dynamic Psychiatry (1946, 1961) and in The Practice of Dynamic Psychiatry (1955). These works represent a theoretical and clinical attempt to correlate various physiological and psychological concepts of behavior into a comprehensive system (biodynamics), and to base a therapy upon this. He conducted many animal experiments to check, clarify, and extend psychological premises about human beings. He also added "un-defenses," such as the general delusion of invulnerability and immortality by which man denies danger and death, to the Freudian concepts of defenses against anxiety.

Masserman's later works include Biodynamic Roots of Human Behavior (1958), Transcultural Problems of Youth (1969), the autobiographical A Psychiatric Odyssey (1971), Handbook of Psychiatric Therapies (1972), Man for Humanity (1972), Theory and Therapy in Dynamic Psychiatry (1973), The Psychiatric Examination (with J. Schwab, 1974), Psychiatry and Health (1986), Psychiatric Consultations for Public Organizations (1989), and Sexual Accusations and Social Turmoil: What Can Be Done (with his wife, Christine Masserman, 1994).

He also directed many instructional motion pictures, such as The Dynamics of Experimental Neurosis (1944). He edited the annuals Science and Psychoanalysis and Current Psychiatric Therapies, and was associate editor of Psychosomatics. He was president of the American Academy for Psychoanalysis and of other learned associations, such as the American Society for Group Therapy, the American Association for Social Psychiatry, the American Society for Biological Psychiatry, the International Association of Social Psychiatry, and the American Psychiatric Association, and served as honorary president for life of the World Association for Social Psychiatry.

Masserman retired from his clinical practice in 1989 after fending off a flurry of accusations by former female patients of having been drugged and sexually abused. Although Masserman denied the allegations and no criminal charges were made, some of the malpractice cases were settled out of court and he was suspended from the Illinois Psychiatric Society for five years.


B. Noel and K. Watterson, You Must Be Dreaming (1992)

[Louis Miller /

Ruth Beloff (2nd ed.)]

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