|Born||Karl Augustus Menninger
July 22, 1893
Topeka, Kansas, United States
|Died||July 18, 1990
Topeka, Kansas, United States
Cause of death
|Children||Julia Menninger Gottesman
Robert Gaines Menninger
Martha Menninger Nichols
Rosemary Menninger (adopted)
|Parents||Charles Frederick Menninger
Florence Vesta Menninger
|Relatives||Will Menninger (brother)
Edwin Arnold Menninger (brother)
Ann Gottesman (granddaughter)
Karl Augustus Menninger (July 22, 1893 – July 18, 1990) was an American psychiatrist and a member of the Menninger family of psychiatrists who founded the Menninger Foundation and the Menninger Clinic in Topeka, Kansas.
Born in Topeka, Kansas, the son of Florence Vesta (Kinsley) and Charles Frederick Menninger, Menninger attended Washburn University, Indiana University, and the University of Wisconsin–Madison. He was accepted to Harvard Medical School, where he graduated cum laude in 1917. While at Washburn, he was a member of the Alpha Delta Fraternity, a local group, and in 1960 inducted into the school's Sagamore Honor Society.
Beginning with an internship in Kansas City, he worked at the Boston Psychopathic Hospital and taught at Harvard Medical School. In 1919, Menninger returned to Topeka where, together with his father, he founded the Menninger Clinic. By 1925, he had attracted enough investors to build the Menninger Sanitarium. His book, The Human Mind appeared in 1930. In 1952, Karl Targownik, who would become one of his closest friends, joined the Clinic. His brother, William C. Menninger, who played a leading role in the US Army's psychiatric work, also later joined them.
The Menninger Foundation was established in 1941. After World War II, Karl Menninger was instrumental in founding the Winter Veterans Administration Hospital, in Topeka. It became the largest psychiatric training center in the world. He was among the first members of the Society for General Systems Research.
In 1967, Chaim Potok quotes Menninger in the dedication page of The Chosen. In 1983, Renee Richards also quotes Menninger on the dedication page of Second Serve. In 1981, Menniger was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, by Jimmy Carter.
During his career, Menninger wrote a number of influential books. In his first book, The Human Mind, Menninger argued that psychiatry was a science and that the mentally ill were only slightly different than healthy individuals. In The Crime of Punishment, Menninger argued that crime was preventable through psychiatric treatment; punishment was a brutal and inefficient relic of the past. He advocated treating offenders like the mentally ill.
His subsequent books include The Vital Balance, Man Against Himself and Love Against Hate.
Letter to Thomas Szasz
In the letter, Menninger says that he has just read Szasz's book Insanity: The Idea and Its Consequences. Menninger wrote that neither of them liked the situation in which insanity separates men from men and free will is forgotten. After recounting the lack of scientific method in psychology over the years, Menninger expressed his regret that he did not come over to a dialogue with Szasz.
Menninger has written several books and articles. A selection:
- 1930. The Human Mind. Garden City, NY: Garden City Pub. Co.
- 1931. From Sin to Psychiatry, an Interview on the Way to Mental Health with Dr. Karl A. Menninger [by] L. M. Birkhead. Little Blue Books Series #1585. Girard, Kansas: Haldeman-Julius Press.
- 1938. Man Against Himself. New York: Harcourt, Brace.
- 1950. Guide to Psychiatric Books; with a Suggested Basic Reading List. New York: Grune & Stratton.
- 1952. Manual for Psychiatric Case Study. New York: Grune & Stratton.
- 1958. Theory of Psychoanalytic Technique. New York: Basic Books.
- 1959. A Psychiatrist’s World: Selected Papers. New York: Viking Press.
- 1963. The Vital Balance: The Life Process in Mental Health and Illness. New York: Viking Penguin.
- 1968. Das Leben als Balance; seelische Gesundheit und Krankheit im Lebensprozess. München: R. Piper.
- 1968. The Crime of Punishment. New York: Penguin Books.
- 1972. A Guide to Psychiatric Books in English [by] Karl Menninger. New York: Grune & Stratton.
- 1973. Whatever Became of Sin?. New York: Hawthorn Books.
- 1978. The Human Mind Revisited: Essays in Honor of Karl A. Menninger. Edited by Sydney Smith. New York: International Universities Press.
- 1985. Conversations with Dr. Karl Menninger (sound recording)
- "Karl Menninger, 96, Dies; Leader in U.S. Psychiatry". The New York Times. July 19, 1990. Retrieved October 25, 2013.
- Friedman, Lawrence J. (1992). Menninger: The Family and the Clinic. Lawrence, KS: University Press of Kansas. p. 504. ISBN 0700605134.
- Bartleby article on Karl Menninger
- Scottish Rite Journal Obituary
- Search on Karl Menninger in Menninger Foundation Archives Database from Kansas State Historical Society
- Access Menninger photographs and documents on Kansas Memory, the Kansas State Historical Society's digital portal
- Correspondence with Thomas Szasz