First name:
Louis L.
20th century
21st century
Field of expertise:
Social work
Place of birth:
Lodz (POL)
* 01.07.1930
† 24.01.2012
Biography print

American social worker of Polish origin.


Louis Frydman (1930-2012) was born in Łódź (Poland) as the youngest son of the bookkeeper Chaim Majer Frydman and his wife, Ryvka Ekerman. He attended a Jewish school (Frydman & Bateson 2000). In 1940, soon after the invasion of Poland, the Nazi authorities created the Łódź Ghetto and forced the Jewish population of the Łódź area to resettle there before being deported for extermination. Louis and his older brother, Abraham, were the only members of the Frydman family to survive the Holocaust in the concentration camps of Majdanek and Dachau. After their liberation from Dachau in 1945, the orphaned brothers were taken to a children’s camp run by the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA) in Aglasterhausen near Heidelberg. They were prepared for emigration in professional group-based and systemic therapeutic settings and could eventually emigrate to the United States (Lorenz 1995: 107 ff.).


Education and clinical social work

Frydman studied sociology at City College of New York where he graduated with honors in 1954. In the same year, he married his wife, Jane Brunner. The couple had three sons. Having been granted a scholarship by the Cincinnati Jewish Family Service Bureau, Frydman attended masters classes at Columbia University’s New York School of Social Work and took his Master of Social Work in 1956. He then worked at the Mental Health Clinic of the Westchester Community Services in White Plains, NY, where he specialized in clinical social work. He received his PhD in developmental psychology from Yeshiva University in New York City in 1968 and was appointed associate professor in the field of “Human Behavior and the Social Environment” at the School of Social Welfare at the University of Kansas in 1969.


Human rights advocacy

In the years to follow, Frydman advocated for the protection of human rights and against racism. He spoke at meetings of Holocaust survivors and promoted a reform of the mental health services in Kansas, most notably a reform of the legal regulations of compulsory hospitalization (Kansas Mental Health Code, 1976). In the late 1970s, he founded the human rights initiative Advocates for Freedom in Mental Health, a Kansas City-based organization with nationwide operations (Lorenz 1995: 113; Starkman 1981: 35 f.). Also in the 1970s, he used a Fulbright scholarship to examine the provision of mental health care in his native Poland. Louis Frydman became emeritus in 2000 and died from prostate cancer in January 2012.



Dabrowski, S., L. Frydman, T. Zakowska-Dabrowska (1986): Physical restraint in Polish psychiatric facilities. In: International Journal of Law and Psychiatry 8, (4), pp. 369-382.

Frese III, F., K. J. Myrick (2010): On consumer advocacy and the diagnosis of mental disorders. In: Professional Psychology: Research and Practice 41, (6), pp. 495-501.

Frydman, L., J. Batson (2000): An interview with Louis L. Frydman, 31. August 2000. Oral History Project. The Endacott Society, University of Kansas. URL:

Frydman, L. (1983): Psychiatric hospitalization in Poland. In: Social Science & Medicine 17, (10), pp. 617-623.

Lorenz, W. (1995): Louis Frydmann. Ein Sinn für das Paradox. In: J. Wieler, S. Zeller (eds.): Emigrierte Sozialarbeit. Portraits vertriebener SozialarbeiterInnen. Freiburg: Lambertus, pp. 107-116.

Marks, R. A., L. Frydman (1973): Rights of the committed. In: Social Work 18, (6), pp. 97-99.

Starkman, M. (1981): The movement. In: B. A. LeFrançois, R. Menzies, G. Reaume: Mad matters. A critical reader in Canadian mad studies. Foreword by Peter Beresford. Toronto: Canadian Scholar’s 2014, pp. 27-37.


Robin Pape, Burkhart Brückner


Referencing format
Robin Pape, Burkhart Brückner (2015): Frydman, Louis L..
In: Biographisches Archiv der Psychiatrie.
(retrieved on:03.10.2023)