Menninger (family)

Menninger, the family name of three United States psychiatrists. Their clinic for the mentally ill and their psychiatric training programs made Topeka, Kansas, a major psychiatric center. The Menningers pioneered in the group practice of psychiatry and in the noninstitutional treatment of mental illness.

(1862-1953) was born in Tell City, Indiana. In 1889 he received a degree in homeopathy from Hahnemann Medical College, Chicago, and established a private practice in Topeka, Kansas. A visit to the Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota, in 1908 showed him the advantages of group practice. In 1920 he received an M.D. degree from the University of Kansas. In 1925, with the help of his sons Karl and William, he founded the Menninger Clinic, a psychiatric hospital and research center.


In 1926 the Menningers opened a treatment center for mentally ill children. The Menninger Foundation, whose activities include education and research as well as the treating of patients, was established in 1941.

(1893-1990), his eldest son, became one of the most highly respected psychiatrists of his time. Menninger was born in Topeka and received his M.D. from Harvard Medical School in 1917. In 1925 he joined his father and brother in opening the Menninger Clinic for psychiatric research and therapy. During 1952-65, he was its chief of staff. The success of Menninger's book The Human Mind (1930), the first book on psychiatry to become a bestseller, helped establish the clinic as a major psychiatric center. After World War II, he set up psychiatric programs for the Veterans Administration and the state of Kansas, the Kansas plan serving as a model for other states.

His other books include: Man Against Himself (1938); Love Against Hate (1942, with his wife Jeanetta); Theory of Psychoanalytic Technique (1958); The Vital Balance (1963); The Crime of Punishment (1968); Whatever Became of Sin? (1973).

(1899-1966), the youngest son of Charles, was born in Topeka. He received an M.D. from Cornell University in 1924. In 1925 he joined his father and brother in practice. He became involved in the administration of the Menninger Clinic and of the Menninger Foundation, after its establishment in 1941. During World War II, he was in charge of psychiatry for the U.S. Army and reached the rank of brigadier general. Menninger later traveled widely, speaking on behalf of expanded mental-health treatment. He was president of the Menninger Foundation, 1955-66.