Who was Otto Gross?
Some praised Otto Gross (1877-1920) as a highly gifted analyst,
a brilliant scholar and philosopher while others had him committed
as a dangerous lunatic and had him declared legally incompetent
for the rest of his life.
Otto Gross' career – from doctor and psychiatrist to analyst,
politician, anarchist and finally communist – shows a development,
analogous to his theories of the social relativity of psychoanalysis
and the conflict between the own and the strange, that is also
in the center of discussion today; questions about the social
and political implications of psychiatry and psychotherapy do
not concern just a few psychoanalysts. Such problems as anti-authoritarian,
repression-free upbringing, the emancipation from patriarchal,
hierarchical structures in the context of family, marriage, career,
etc., the emancipation of women in particular, the rights of
the individual to decide freely about his/her life, especially
in reference to drugs and euthanasia, and finally questions about
the freedom of the individual in relationship to social norms
and traditions were discussed both then and now. Otto Gross'
importance for today can already be seen from this list of themes.
The Otto Gross phenomenon symbolizes the search for a better
society, for the dissolution of repressive relationships between
the sexes, for utopias in times that lack strong concepts and
meaning. His work is more relevant than ever. His life, which
parallels his work, is in many respects exemplary and illustrates
much of what Gross found and promoted in his work.