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Reviewed by:
  • Treating Mind and Body: Essays in the History of Science, Professions, and Society under Extreme Conditions
  • Michael H. Kater
Geoffrey Cocks. Treating Mind and Body: Essays in the History of Science, Professions, and Society under Extreme Conditions. New Brunswick, N.J.: Transaction Publishers, 1998. xvii + 219 pp. $34.95.

I am of two minds about this book. In the first place, I have difficulty understanding why a scholar in mid-career would choose to reprint in a single volume previously published articles in fields that are not stringently connected, after merely having published a single monograph, on psychotherapy in the Third Reich (although in an original and a revised edition). Although there is no question that Cocks’s first book was valuable and deservedly well received, I find the necessity for a follow-up volume in which only a few of the (prepublished) essays relate to that original UCLA dissertation to be contrived. The papers in this book derive from several interrelated fields of interest to Cocks, but the final question of thematic incommensurability remains—even though “psychohistory” may be identified as some kind of leitmotif.

This having been said, it is undoubtedly useful to have some of Cocks’s more interesting papers collected in one volume. A few of these stand out and have much to tell the reader, particularly in the history of medicine.

Cocks has divided the book into three parts: the first dealing with psychotherapy, the second with psychoanalysis, and the third with medicine. (How the first two subjects should automatically be seen as remote from the last is not explained.) In the first paper of section 1, on the professionalization of psychotherapy in Germany from 1928 to 1949, Cocks repeats or alludes to much that is already in his book. His basic thesis there, as here, is that although “Jewish” psychiatry of the Freudian persuasion (already having suffered in prestige in the last days of the Weimar Republic) was proscribed by the Nazis, certain psychiatrists, even with an original affinity for Freud, managed to survive professionally by taking refuge in Matthias Göring’s institute for psychotherapy. The institute made itself useful by treating damaged military personnel just as shell-shocked soldiers had been treated during World War I. In a short piece on the Nazis and C. G. Jung, Cocks shows to what extent the Hitler regime made use of Jung’s ideas as an obvious ersatz for Freudian theories. Although this discredited Jung, Cocks emphasizes the redeeming fact that the analyst became critical of the Nazi regime after 1939. In “Repressing, Remembering, Working Through: The Science and History of Memory in Postwar Germany,” the author deals sympathetically with Alexander Mitscherlich’s task of fighting denial and repression of the Nazi past during his post-World War II career. To the extent that Mitscherlich was unsuccessful in a wider, societal sense, Cocks rightly points out that until today the psychiatrist Klaus Dörner has, more successfully, assumed Mitscherlich’s mantle as a critical historian of psychiatry and its questionable path to 1945.

In the first essay of the second section Cocks deals with the centrality of dreams in Freudian analysis and, again, the Jewish role in analyzing these dreams. The second paper stresses the unsaviory role of psychiatrists under Hitler in the attempt to first eliminate and then criminalize homosexuality in the Third Reich. In the third piece Cocks draws an interesting and sympathetic portrait of the [End Page 533] Jewish Viennese Freudian analyst Heinz Kohut, who after his flight from Austria continued an influential professional life in Chicago. Of note is the description of Kohut’s worsening relationship with Anna Freud in the 1960s and 1970s. At first highly prominent in the Chicago Institute for Psychoanalysis, Kohut also had a falling-out with most of his colleagues there during the end of his life.

The third part of the book concerns itself with organic medicine. One perceptive essay here dwells on the symbiotic relationship between German medicine and/or physicians and Jewish physicians in more recent times. In “Health, Medicine, and Illness in Modern Germany,” Cocks repeats the introduction to a collection of papers that were delivered in December 1993 at...

Additional Information

ISSN
1086-3176
Print ISSN
0007-5140
Pages
pp. 533-534
Launched on MUSE
1999-09-01
Open Access
No
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