Anne Cottebrune on Franz Josef Kallmann

In the latest number of the German journal Medizinhistorisches Journal, Anne Cottebrune publishes an article on the trajectory of Franz Josef Kallmann who was one of the founding fathers of psychiatric genetics.

“The founding of the German Research Institute for Psychiatry and its Genealogic-Demographic Department (Genealogisch-Demographische Abteilung; GDA) in 1918 gave the world the first institutional platform for the field of psychiatric genetics. The years between the two World Wars saw the GDA grow in importance with much international respect. The close collaboration between the GDA’s protagonist Ernst Rüdin and the National Socialist regime was certainly not an inhibiting factor for the worldwide recognition of the eugenic research conducted in Munich. Around the mid-1930s, the German psychiatrist émigré Franz Josef Kallmann brought the field of study which had been put into practice in Munich to the United States. He fought an uphill battle to be accepted by the North American scientific community, but finally he was able to establish himself as the main researcher in the field of psychiatric genetics. Interestingly enough, the fact that his kind of research had been heavily supported by the National Socialist regime was not a barrier to his acceptance. The fact that it took him a long time to establish the field of eugenics in the USA is better explained by the psychoanalytic research methods at the time, which gave hereditary transmission short shrift. At the New York State Psychiatric Institute he was able to continue his research, including the examination of race-hygienic motifs, where he designed a research program that was directly based on concepts and methods from Ernst Rüdin’s team of researchers in Munich. The only deviation from the original research was in terms of the use of eugenic prophylaxis where he aligned his research in the context of North American democracy in the post-war era. However, the eugenic goal of elimination of certain categories of peoples remained unchanged.”

This summary and more can be found here.

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