First name:
20th century
Field of expertise:
Social psychiatry
Place of birth:
Bremen (DEU)
* 12.11.1922
† 29.03.2002
Biography print

German psychiatrist, senior public health officer and key figure of the psychiatric reform in Germany.



Caspar Kulenkampff (1922-2002) was born in Bremen. His parents, the violinist Georg Alwin Kulenkampff and Ilse Renate Kulenkampff, divorced in 1936. In 1937, his mother married the Berlin psychiatrist Jürg Zutt, who was very supportive of his stepson. Kulenkampff studied medicine in Berlin, Hamburg and Heidelberg. He earned his doctoral degree in 1946 (with a study on cholinesterase), followed by his residency in psychiatry and neurology. In 1952, he transferred to the University of Frankfurt’s psychiatric clinic where he gained the formal qualification for professorship (habilitation) under Jürg Zutt. He was appointed managing senior physician in 1960. As early as in the 1950s, Kulenkampff published theoretical essays, for instance, on Sartre’s phenomenology of the gaze or on the anthropology of paranoid psychoses (1955). He also participated in the so-called “Rhein-Main-Club”, a circle of later well-renowned social psychiatrists including, among others, Karl Peter Kisker, Heinz Häfner, Christian Müller and Walter Bräutigam. In 1959, he started establishing a department for social psychiatry which emphasised the idea of rehabilitation. It was the first of its kind in Germany, initially offering ambulatory night care, then also day care and transitional accommodation (Schönknecht 1999: 33). In 1966, Kulenkampff accepted a call to Düsseldorf’s newly founded Heinrich Heine University and became director of the clinic Düsseldorf-Grafenberg (Häfner 2002). He acted as co-editor of the journal Der Nervenarzt between 1964 and 1977.


Key figure of psychiatric reform

In the late 1960s, Kulenkampff supported the German Association for Public and Private Welfare’s call for a structural reform of Germany’s psychiatric system, together with other prominent figures, such as Walter von Baeyer. On 5 March 1970, the Christian Democrat MP Walter Picard demanded that the German parliament appoint an expert commission chaired by Kulenkampff. This commission was eventually established in 1971. Its 1975 report Mental Health Care in the Federal Republic of Germany (commonly known as “Psychiatrie-Enquête”) attested to the “inhumane” conditions in service provision and called for a community-based, multi-professional, co-ordinated and need-oriented restructuring of mental health care. Also in 1971, Kulenkampff left the university to work as a senior public health officer for the regional authority Landschaftsverband Rheinland. He handed over his office to his successor, Rainer Kukla, in 1983. Between 1986 and 1988, he was a member of the Federal Ministry of Health’s expert commission on psychiatry, which initiated a “person-centred” shift of perspective (care plans, networks of agencies). Caspar Kulenkampff died in 2002 in Hamburg, at age 80.

Today, the Caspar Kulenkampff Prize is awarded for special merits in the development of mental health care provision in the Rhineland region.



Anders, E., C. Kulenkampff (eds.) (1969): Der Verrückte in der Gesellschaft. Aufgaben und Chancen der Psychiatrie. Stuttgart: Radius-Verlag.

Deutscher Bundestag (1975): Bericht über die Lage der Psychiatrie In der Bundesrepublik Deutschland. Zur psychiatrischen und psychotherapeutisch / psychosomatischen Versorgung der Bevölkerung. (Unterrichtung durch die Bundesregierung, Drucksache 7 / 2004). Bonn: Heger.

Häfner, H. (2002): Caspar Kulenkampff (1922-2002). In: Der Nervenarzt 73, (11), pp. 1105-1106.

Kulenkampff, C. (1955): Entbergung, Entgrenzung, Überwältigung als Weisen des Standverlustes. Zur Anthropologie der paranoiden Psychosen. In: Der Nervenarzt 26, pp. 89-95.

Kulenkampff, C.; E. Siebecke-Giese (1969): Gesamtverzeichnis der Einrichtungen auf dem Gebiet der Psychiatrie, Kinder- und Jugendpsychiatrie, Neurologie, Neurochirurgie, Psychotherapie, Psychosomatik, Psychohygiene, Heilpädagogik, Geriatrie (2 volumes). Frankfurt on the Main: Deutscher Verein für öffentliche und private Fürsorge.

Kulenkampff, C. (ed.) (1986): Neue Rehabilitationseinrichtung für psychisch Kranke und Behinderte: Bonn: Psychiatrie-Verlag.

Kulenkampff, C., W. Picard (eds.) (1989): Fortschritte und Veränderungen in der Versorgung psychisch Kranker – ein internationaler Vergleich. Cologne: Rheinland-Verlag.

Redaktion Der Spiegel (1962): Medizin, Geisteskrankheiten: Tag und Nacht. In: Der Spiegel, (32), 08. August 1962, pp. 50-51.

Schönknecht, P. (1999): Die Bedeutung der verstehenden Anthropologie von Jürg Zutt (1893 - 1980) für Theorie und Praxis der Psychiatrie. Würzburg: Königshausen + Neumann.

Zutt, J., C. Kulenkampff (eds.) (1958): Das Paranoide Syndrom in Anthropologischer Sicht. Symposium auf dem Zweiten Internationalen Kongress für Psychiatrie im September 1957 in Zürich. Berlin, Heidelberg: Springer.


Ansgar Fabri, Burkhart Brückner


Referencing format
Ansgar Fabri, Burkhart Brückner (2015): Kulenkampff, Caspar.
In: Biographisches Archiv der Psychiatrie.
(retrieved on:22.02.2024)