Menninger, a Freudian psychiatrist, wrote in America during the 1960s. Two of his observations are the subjects of these first few blogs. They set the stage for examining Menninger’s book in greater depth.
Page numbers come from the sixth printing of the paperback version in April 1977.
One observation described a (economic) bubble within a bubble that extended from 1945 to the time of writing (219). The bubble started in the discipline of Psychoanalysis. Early on, many students tried to enter the field. There was plenty of opportunity. But not enough analysts could be trained to meet demand. Then, the “psychoanalyst” bubble was swept into a larger bubble in the field of mental hygiene. Universities minted mental health “sub-professionals” who found ready employment in various state institutions.
A second observation portrayed the collapse of confidence at Princeton Theological Seminary. When Menninger spoke there, presenting his 1966 book The Crime of Punishment, he found clergy students bewildered and disillusioned (224). They asked: Had they embarked on the right career?
Menninger did not link these two observations.
However, he suggested a role for the clergy in addressing a “morality gap” (192) that could not be handled by psychoanalysts or mental care workers. This book was intended to inspire clergymen (and now, women) to address this “morality gap” by recovering the Christian notion of “sin”.