The quest of a project for the future: the National Socialistic
leading discipline psychiatry and its "crisis of legitimation"

Sandner P.
Med Ges Gesch. 2006;26:117-42.


When the National Socialists came to power in 1933 psychiatry experienced a boom in Germany that was undreamed-of. Psychiatry became one of the leading disciplines because it put the theory of racial hygiene into practice, which was closely linked to the National Socialists' ideology. Coercive sterilizations performed in hundreds of thousands cases could only be carried out with the help of many deeply convinced psychiatrists. From the late 1930s on tables started to be turned: psychiatrists were more and more eclipsed by administration officers. Time consuming therapies, which were still favoured by some psychiatrists, were replaced by economy measures. The killing of patients in the years 1940/41 in the so called "Aktion T4" marked a complete change of direction. Psychiatrists' eugenic activities and their propagation of sterilizations during the 1930s were not directly linked to the so called "euthanasia". On the contrary, there was a massive shift from the elimination of diseases to the elimination of patients. This shift caused society to withdraw its formerly strong trust in psychiatry. Because psychiatrists had participated in murdering their clients the clinical practice of psychiatry and psychiatric research became superfluous. As a consequence psychiatry faced the problem how to justify its existence. During the years 1941/42 the futile quest of a psychiatric "project for the future" began. Psychiatrists tried to justify the existence of their profession by research and modernization. An attempt that was doomed to failure.
Ernst RĂ¼din
Eugenics talk
Eugenic abortion
Psychiatric genetics
Selecting potential children
Human dignity in the Nazi era
Scientific racism in Nazi Germany
The origin of the principle of informed consent
Gene therapy and performance enhancement
Preimplantation genetics and stem cell therapy
The commercialisation of pre-natal enhancement

and further reading

BLTC Research
Utopian Surgery?
The Good Drug Guide
The Abolitionist Project
The Hedonistic Imperative
The Reproductive Revolution
MDMA: Utopian Pharmacology
Critique of Huxley's Brave New World