Report on Research on the Rockefeller Foundation and American Psychiatry

by Andrew Scull

May 28, 2020

I am working on a history of the psychiatric profession in the United States during the long twentieth century – roughly speaking from 1900 to the present. Any such history must perforce take account of the enormous role the Rockefeller Foundation (RF) played in shaping developments in the middle decades of this century. Though Rockefeller support for some aspects of psychiatry began in the nineteen-teens and –twenties (for example with support for the work of Thomas Salmon at the National Committee on Mental Hygiene, and as part of the more general support for the Institute of Human Relations at Yale), at the beginning of the 1930s, psychiatry was elevated to the major focus of the Medical Sciences division of the Rockefeller Foundation, and under Alan Gregg, the RF poured resources into both supporting individual researchers in the field, and underwriting academic departments to upgrade the training of future generations of psychiatrists.

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