Born in Budapest, Hungary, he was an outstanding systematizer and teacher of Freudian psychoanalysis and a proponent of the psychoanalytic ego psychology of Heinz Hartmann and Erik Erikson. He attained doctoral degree from Pázmány Péter University in Budapest, majoring in psychology. He immigrated with his family to the United States in 1938.
As director of research at the Menninger Foundation in Topeka, Kansas and later at the Austen Riggs Center in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, he exerted a major influence on a generation of psychologists and analysts, notably Merton Gill, Roy Schafer, Georg S. Klein, Robert R. Holt, in their exploration of such diverse topics as diagnostic testing, cognitive style, subliminal perception, altered states, and ego autonomy.
See also 
- Biography in the International Dictionary of Psychoanalysis
- Works by or about David Rapaport in libraries (WorldCat catalog)
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