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Herbert "Harry" Stack Sullivan (February 21, 1892, Norwich, New York – January 14, 1949, Paris, France) was an American Neo-Freudian psychiatrist and psychoanalyst who held that "personality can never be isolated from the complex interpersonal relationships in which [a] person lives" and that "[t]he field of psychiatry is the field of interpersonal relations under any and all circumstances in which [such] relations exist".Having studied therapists Sigmund Freud, Adolf Meyer, and William Alanson White, he devoted years of clinical and research work to helping people with psychotic illness.
Sullivan was a child of Irish immigrants and grew up in the then anti-Catholic town of Norwich, New York, resulting in a social isolation which may have inspired his later interest in psychiatry. He attended the Smyrna Union School, then spent two years at Cornell University from 1909,receiving his medical degree in Chicago College of Medicine and Surgery in 1917.
Along with Clara Thompson, Karen Horney, Erich Fromm, Otto Allen Will, Jr., Erik H. Erikson, and Frieda Fromm-Reichmann, Sullivan laid the groundwork for understanding the individual based on the network of relationships in which they are enmeshed. He developed a theory of psychiatry based on interpersonal relationshipswhere cultural forces are largely responsible for mental illnesses (see also social psychiatry). In his words, one must pay attention to the "interactional", not the "intrapsychic". This search for satisfaction via personal involvement with others led Sullivan to characterize loneliness as the most painful of human experiences. He also extended the Freudian psychoanalysis to the treatment of patients with severe mental disorders, particularly schizophrenia.
Besides making the first mention of the significant other in psychological literature, Sullivan developed the idea of the "Self System", a configuration of the personality traits developed in childhood and reinforced by positive affirmation and the security operations developed in childhood to avoid anxiety and threats to self-esteem. Sullivan further defined the Self System as a steering mechanism toward a series of I-You interlocking behaviors; that is, what an individual does is meant to elicit a particular reaction.
Sullivan called these behaviors Parataxical Integrations and he noted that such action-reaction combinations can become rigid and dominate an adult's thinking pattern, limiting their actions and reactions toward the world as the adult sees the world and not as it really is. The resulting inaccuracies in judgment Sullivan termed parataxic distortion, when other persons are perceived or evaluated based on the patterns of previous experience, similar to Freud's notion of transference. Sullivan also introduced the concept of "prototaxic communication" as a more primitive, needy, infantile form of psychic interchange and of "syntactic communication" as a mature style of emotional interaction.
Sullivan's work on interpersonal relationships became the foundation of interpersonal psychoanalysis, a school of psychoanalytic theory and treatment that stresses the detailed exploration of the nuances of patients' patterns of interacting with others.
Sullivan was the first to coin the term "problems in living" to describe the difficulties with self and others experienced by those with mental illnesses. This phrase was later picked up and popularized by Thomas Szasz, whose work was a foundational resource for the antipsychiatry movement. "Problems in living" went on to become the movement's preferred way to refer to the manifestations of mental disturbances.
In 1927, he reviewed the controversial, anonymously published The Invert and his Social Adjustment and in 1929 called it "a remarkable document by a homosexual man of refinement; intended primarily as a guide to the unfortunate sufferers of sexual inversion, and much less open to criticism than anything else of the kind so far published."
He was one of the founders of the William Alanson White Institute, considered by many to be the world's leading independent psychoanalytic institute, and of the journal Psychiatry in 1937. He headed the Washington, DC School of Psychiatry from 1936 to 1947.
In 1940, he and colleague Winfred Overholser, serving on the American Psychiatric Society's committee on Military Mobilization, formulated guidelines for the psychological screening of inductees to the United States military. He believed, writes one historian, "that sexuality played a minimal role in causing mental disorders and that adult homosexuals should be accepted and left alone." Despite his best efforts, others included homosexuality as a disqualification for military service.
Beginning on December 5, 1940, Sullivan served as psychiatric adviser to Selective Service director Clarence A. Dykstra, but resigned in November 1941 after Gen. Lewis B. Hershey, who was hostile to psychiatry, became the director.Sullivan then took part in establishing the Office of War Information in 1942. Beginning in 1927, Sullivan had a 22-year relationship with James Inscoe Sullivan, known as "Jimmie", who was 20 years younger than Sullivan.
[ clarify ] His colleague Helen Swick Perry's biography of Sullivan mentions the relationship and it is clear his close friends were well aware they were partners.
Although Sullivan published little in his lifetime, he influenced generations of mental health professionals, especially through his lectures at Chestnut Lodge in Rockville, Maryland, outside Washington, DC. Leston Havens called him the most important underground influence in American psychoanalysis. His ideas were collected and published posthumously, edited by Helen Swick Perry, who also published a detailed biography in 1982 (Perry, 1982, Psychiatrist of America).
The following works are in Special Collections (MSA SC 5547) at the Maryland State Archives in Annapolis: Conceptions of Modern Psychiatry, Soundscriber Transcriptions (Feb. 1945-May 1945); Lectures 1-97 (begins Oct. 2, 1942); Georgetown University Medical School Lectures (1939); Personal Psychopathology (1929–1933); The Psychiatry of Character and its Deviations-undated notes.
His writings include:
After Sullivan's death, Saul B. Newton and his wife Dr. Jane Pearce (a psychiatrist who studied with Sullivan in the late 1940s) established the Sullivan Institute for Research in Psychoanalysis in New York City.
Psychoanalysis is a set of theories and therapeutic techniques used to study the unconscious mind, which together form a method of treatment for mental disorders. The discipline was established in the early 1890s by Austrian neurologist Sigmund Freud, who retained the term psychoanalysis for his own school of thought. Freud's work stems partly from the clinical work of Josef Breuer and others. Psychoanalysis was later developed in different directions, mostly by students of Freud, such as Alfred Adler and his collaborator, Carl Gustav Jung, as well as by neo-Freudian thinkers, such as Erich Fromm, Karen Horney, and Harry Stack Sullivan.
Significant other (SO) is colloquially used as a term for a person's partner in an intimate relationship without disclosing or presuming anything about marital status, relationship status, gender identity, or sexual orientation. Synonyms with similar properties include: sweetheart, better half, other half, spouse, domestic partner, lover, soulmate, or life partner.
Neo-Freudianism is a psychoanalytic approach derived from the influence of Sigmund Freud but extending his theories towards typically social or cultural aspects of psychoanalysis over the biological.
Relational psychoanalysis is a school of psychoanalysis in the United States that emphasizes the role of real and imagined relationships with others in mental disorder and psychotherapy. 'Relational psychoanalysis is a relatively new and evolving school of psychoanalytic thought considered by its founders to represent a "paradigm shift" in psychoanalysis'.
Interpersonal psychoanalysis is based on the theories of American psychiatrist Harry Stack Sullivan (1892–1949). Sullivan believed that the details of a patient's interpersonal interactions with others can provide insight into the causes and cures of mental disorder.
Social psychiatry is a branch of psychiatry that focuses on the interpersonal and cultural context of mental disorder and mental wellbeing. It involves a sometimes disparate set of theories and approaches, with work stretching from epidemiological survey research on the one hand, to an indistinct boundary with individual or group psychotherapy on the other. Social psychiatry combines a medical training and perspective with fields such as social anthropology, social psychology, cultural psychiatry, sociology and other disciplines relating to mental distress and disorder. Social psychiatry has been particularly associated with the development of therapeutic communities, and to highlighting the effect of socioeconomic factors on mental illness. Social psychiatry can be contrasted with biopsychiatry, with the latter focused on genetics, brain neurochemistry and medication. Social psychiatry was the dominant form of psychiatry for periods of the 20th century but is currently less visible than biopsychiatry.
George Jack Makari is a historian, psychiatrist, and psychoanalyst. He serves as Director of The Institute for the History of Psychiatry, which encompasses the Oskar Diethelm Library at Weill Cornell Medical College, where he is also a Professor of Psychiatry. Makari's work has been widely reviewed and is well known among historians of the mind sciences, psychiatry, and psychoanalysis for Revolution in Mind, The Creation of Psychoanalysis, and his recent work, Soul Machine: The Invention of the Modern Mind.
Richard A. Isay was an American psychiatrist, psychoanalyst, author and gay activist. He was a professor of psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medical College and a faculty member of the Columbia University Center for Psychoanalytic Training and Research. Isay is considered a pioneer who changed the way that psychoanalysts view homosexuality.
The William Alanson White Institute, founded in 1943, is an institution for training psychoanalysts and psychotherapists. It is located in New York City, United States, on the Upper West Side, in the Clara Thompson building.
Abraham Arden Brill was an Austrian-born psychiatrist who spent almost his entire adult life in the United States. He was the first psychoanalyst to practice in the United States and the first translator of Sigmund Freud into English.
Smith Ely Jelliffe was an American neurologist, psychiatrist, and psychoanalyst. He lived and practiced in New York City nearly his entire life. Originally trained in botany and pharmacy, Jelliffe switched first to neurology in the mid-1890s then to psychiatry, neuropsychiatry, and ultimately to psychoanalysis.
Frieda Fromm-Reichmann, was a German psychiatrist and contemporary of Sigmund Freud who immigrated to America during World War II. She was a pioneer for women in science, specifically within psychology and the treatment of schizophrenia. She is known for coining the now widely debunked term Schizophrenogenic mother in 1948, she wrote "“the schizophrenic is painfully distrustful and resentful of other people, due to the severe early warp and rejection he encountered in important people of his infancy and childhood, as a rule, mainly in a schizophrenogenic mother”.
Clara Mabel Thompson was a prominent psychoanalyst and co-founder of the William Alanson White Institute. She published articles and books about psychoanalysis as a whole and specifically about the psychology of women.
The Austen Riggs Center is a psychiatric treatment facility in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. It was founded by Austen Fox Riggs in 1913 as the Stockbridge Institute for the Study and Treatment of Psychoneuroses before being renamed in honor of Austen Riggs on July 21, 1919.
Jack Drescher is an American psychiatrist and psychoanalyst known for his work on sexual orientation and gender identity.
Richard C. Friedman was an academic psychiatrist, the Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medical College, and a faculty member at Columbia University. He has conducted research in the endocrinology and the psychodynamics of homosexuality, especially within the context of psychoanalysis. Friedman was born in The Bronx, New York.
Henry Z'vi Lothane, M.D., is a Polish-born American psychiatrist, psychoanalyst, educator and author. Lothane is currently Clinical Professor at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York City, specializing in the area of psychotherapy. He is the author of some eighty scholarly articles and reviews on various topics in psychiatry, psychoanalysis and the history of psychotherapy, as well as the author of a book on the famous Schreber case, entitled In Defense of Schreber. Soul Murder and Psychiatry. In Defense of Schreber examines the life and work of Daniel Paul Schreber against the background of 19th and early 20th century psychiatry and psychoanalysis.
Self-system was a personality concept created by Harry S. Sullivan that he believed served to minimize the tension of anxiety. The self-system was defined as a unique collection of experiences that was used to describe one's own self. For the most part, Sullivan claimed that the self-system was the result of appraisals provided by caregivers during early childhood.
Jay R. Greenberg is a psychoanalyst, clinical psychologist and writer. He holds a PhD in Psychology from New York University. He is a Faculty Member of the William Alanson White Institute, where he is also a training analyst and supervisor.
Lawrence Hartmann is a child psychiatrist, social activist, and former President of the American Psychiatric Association (APA). Hartmann played a central role in the APA's 1973 decision to remove homosexuality as a diagnosis of mental illness from its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual. This change opened the modern era of LGBTQ rights by providing support for the overturning of laws against homosexuals and by advancing gay civil rights, including the right to marry.