Karl Menninger


Biography of Karl Menninger

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 1981 Menniger was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, by Jimmy Carter.

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