James Jackson Putnam. Source: frontispiece
to Putnam, Addresses on Psycho-Analysis.

James Jackson Putnam (1846-1918), was a Boston-MA born student of Harvard College and University (1866) and Harvard Medical School (1870). As an MD, Putnam was a founder-member of the American Neurological Association in 1874, becoming President in 1888. In 1906 Putnam, then Professor of Neurology at Harvard, and a follower of hypnosis and other methods of psycho-therapy, was instrumental in introducing psychoanalysis to Boston when he published his - initially adverse - views on Freud. The leading paper, "Freud's method of psycho-analysis," dealing largely with applications in hysteria, appeared in the new Boston-edited Journal of Abnormal Psychology of Dr. Morton Prince,1854-1929 and MD Harvard (1879), another foremost medical psychologist of the day. Whilst never inclining more fully to Freud, Morton Prince has been granted chronological priority in attracting the new European therapy ideas to Boston, since as early as 1905 he had written to Freud to invite a suitable contribution for the forthcoming new Journal (Jones, 1955, Ch. "The Beginning of International Recognition,"" 1906-09).

By 1909 the regular discussion meetings at the home of Morton Prince brought together Putnam and the young English medical psychologist Ernest Jones, 1879-1958, who was then living in Canada. The enthusiasm of Jones for the new science of Freud quickly passed to Putnam, and possibly contemporaneously to immigrant teachers of psychology and psychiatry such as Swiss Adolf Meyer, 1866-1950, then in New York City. The important event of 1909 was the visit of Freud, accompanied by Carl Gustav Jung, and Sandor Ferenczi to Clark University, Worcester-MA, where Freud had been invited by G. Stanley Hall, 1846-1924, to give a series of public lectures. Hall was President of the twenty-year old university, Professor of Psychology and a leading experimental psychologist, and specialist in adolescence. He briefly became a good friend to Freud's nascent movement. Hall's subsequent leaning to Alfred Adler, however, was "hurtful" to Freud (Jones, 1955).

Putnam became an even firmer and more lasting supporter, lecturing and advancing the new psychoanalysis, along with Ernest Jones and a few others in the US, and eventually helping to form in 1910 the American Psychopathological Association in Washington, with Freud (Vienna) elected honorary member. Even more significant for the present account was the formative meeting, at Baltimore in May 1911, of the American Psychoanalytic Association, whose members included Putnam, Jones, Trigant Burrow, 1875-1950, Adolf Meyer then of Baltimore and four others. Putnam attended the 3rd Congress of the International Psa. Association, at Weimar in September 1911, reading the opening paper on "The Importance of Philosophy for the Further Development of Psycho-Analysis." This emphasised his own preference for Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1770-1831), and led to a lively after-discussion, according to Jones (1955) who was also present.

In 1920 Putnam's works would be edited and posthumously published by Jones at the newly established Psychoanalytic Publishing House or Verlag as Volume no. 1. of a wide-ranging Series. Putnam has a named psychoanalytic complex associated with him, following his 1913 reference to "Griselda phantasies," later termed "Griselda complex" by Ernest Jones. Any relation to the Griselda of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales must be left for others to explore.


Jones, Ernest. The Life and Work of Sigmund Freud. Vol. II. London: Hogarth, 1955.

Putnam, J. J. Addresses on Psych-Analysis. London, Vienna, New York: The Psycho-Analytical Press, 1921. Internet Archive. Contributed by University of California Libraries. Web. 8 March 2021.

_____. J. J. Putnam. Collected Papers. Vol. no. 1. International Psychoanalytic Library. London & Vienna: International Psa. Verlag, 1920.

Created 8 March 2021