First name:
20th century
Field of expertise:
Place of birth:
* 22.11.1916
† 25.07.1998
Biography print


German psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, paved the way towards the medical recognition of psychotherapeutic treatment in Germany


Annemarie Luise Christine Dührssen (1916–1998) was born on 22 November 1916 in Berlin-Lankwitz as the daughter of Rudolf Dührssen, a jurist, and his wife, Frieda (née Brandt). After school education, she studied medicine in Berlin, Bonn, and Munich. She specialized in internal medicine at Charité Berlin and obtained her doctorate in 1943, supervised by the internist Richard Siebeck. 


In 1944, she took up a post at the German Institute for Psychological Research and Psychotherapy in Berlin, the so-called “Göring Institute” (AM 2020). In addition to her work, she trained as a psychoanalyst at the same institute between 1942 and 1945; her teachers were Felix Boehm, Werner Kemper, Carl Müller-Braunschweig, John F. Rittmeister, and Harald Schulze-Hencke. Dührssen became a full member of the German Psychoanalytical Society (Deutsche Psychoanalytische Gesellschaft; DPG) in 1945. Between 1946 and 1949, she trained as a psychiatrist under Rudolf Thiele at Charité Berlin.


From 1949 onwards, she worked at the Institute for Psychogenic Diseases at Berlin’s local social insurance institution. She was appointed head of the institute’s department for children and adolescents in 1951 and became director of the entire institute in 1965, a post that she held until 1984.


Dührssen co-founded and co-edited the journals Praxis der Kinderpsychologie und Kinderpsychiatrie (1952) and Zeitschrift für psychosomatische Medizin und Psychoanalyse (1954). She also chaired the German Psychoanalytical Society (DPG) between 1971 and 1974. Parallel to her function as director of the Institute for Psychogenic Diseases, she held the chair of psychosomatic medicine and psychotherapy at Berlin Free University Clinic in Berlin-Charlottenburg from 1976 until becoming emeritus in 1985. Dührssen also held honorary professorships at the Berlin School of Education (in special education) and at Kiel University (in psychotherapy and psychoanalysis), and was a member of various committees: the expert commission for the report on the situation of psychiatry in Germany, the so-called “Psychiatrie-Enquête”; the WHO Advisory Board; the board of the German Society for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Psychosomatics and Psychotherapy; and served as an expert for the German Research Foundation and the German National Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians.


Dührssen’s 1994 book Ein Jahrhundert Psychoanalytische Bewegung in Deutschland [One Century of the Psychoanalytical Movement in Germany] discusses the history of the discipline and critically examines the role of its professional associations during the Nazi era. The publication sparked fierce controversy, as a result of which she renounced her honorary membership in the German Psychoanalytical Society DPG in 1997.


Dührssen is considered a pioneer for the recognition of analytical psychotherapy in Germany since her advocacy was instrumental in including psychoanalysis in the national statutory health insurance coverage scheme in 1967. She was particularly committed to promoting communication and understanding between psychoanalysis and psychiatry.

Annemarie Dührssen died in Berlin on 25 July 1998.


Differentiating the conceptions of psychotherapy and comparative analyses

In the 1950s, Dührssen developed a special form of depth-psychology psychotherapy: her so-called “dynamic psychotherapy” is based on the clients’ everyday experiences and focuses primarily on current conflicts that need to be addressed. She also took a particular interest in the mental health of children and adolescents. Her textbook Psychogene Erkrankungen bei Kindern und Jugendlichen [Psychogenic Diseases in Children and Adolescents], published in 1954, is still considered a standard work of child and youth psychotherapy. Rather than drawing on Freud’s libido theory, this work builds on the insights of Alfred Adler, Fritz Künke, and Harald Schultz-Hencke. It also presents new approaches to child healthcare provision on the basis of an empirical study comparing the development of children living in institutions to that of children in foster care.


Dührssen authored seven monographs and more than 100 articles (Nölleke 2019). Her academic work covered a broad spectrum, including comparative psychotherapy research as well as the development of a risk index providing an overview of the main biographical factors that influence the emergence of psychogenic diseases. In 1962 and 1965, she published articles on the effectiveness of psychoanalytical treatment. Her 1972 textbook Analytische Psychotherapie: Theorie – Praxis – Ergebnisse [Analytical Psychotherapy: Theory – Practice – Results] on the conceptions of different psychoanalysis-based forms of treatment compares analytical and dynamic psychotherapy and is considered a significant contribution to therapy research. 


Medical recognition of psychotherapy

Dührssen published empirical studies on the efficacy of psychoanalysis-based psychotherapies as early as the 1950s (Duckheim 2021). These studies laid the groundwork for her later catamnestic studies on the effectiveness of outpatient psychotherapy, which she published in the journal Zeitschrift für psychosomatische Medizin in 1962 and in Der Nervenarzt in 1965 (the latter together with Eduard Jorswieck). This work on the efficiency of psychotherapeutic treatment can be considered the starting point for the inclusion of psychotherapy in Germany’s statutory health insurance coverage scheme (cf. Lockot 2010). Over the next thirty years, Dührssen played a crucial part in developing and shaping the guidelines for psychotherapists within statutory healthcare provision (Duckheim 2019). This contributed significantly to the professional recognition and financial security of therapists and laid the foundations for the broad provision of psychotherapeutic care in Germany (Duckheim 2021).


Relationship to psychiatry

Annemarie Dührssen was a member of the expert commission to assess the situation of psychiatry in Germany, convened by the Federal Government in August 1971, and of the associated nomenclature commission. In May 1972, she was appointed chairwoman of the working group “psychotherapy/psychosomatics”, which included representatives from the fields of psychiatric and psychotherapeutic care and research, health insurance providers, and of various professional associations (Dörre 2021). This working group mainly focused on the following issues: expert assessments on the epidemiology of neuroses; surveys on doctors, psychologists, and psychagogues practicing psychotherapy; a survey on psychiatric training and continuous professional development for doctors and psychiatrists (in collaboration with the working group “training”) (Söhner 2017). The preparation of the interim report due in October 1973 raised massive conflicts, both within Dührssen’s working group and with other members of the expert commission, as a result of which she largely withdrew from her involvement (Söhner 2020; Dörre 2021). 


After lengthy debates, the working group “psychotherapy/psychosomatics” reconstituted at the beginning of 1974 and continued its work in a different composition (five working groups and a separate coordinating body for psychotherapy) (Söhner 2017). Psychotherapy thus had an influence on the expert commission’s final report and its recommendations.



Both colleagues from the field and historians remember Dührssen as “one of the most important representatives of psychosomatic medicine and psychotherapy in Germany,” who “played a decisive role in the development of the discipline after 1945” (Rüger 1999: 482; translated from German). Her positions are described as “open to new developments, undogmatic, and adverse to any form of orthodoxy” (Tschuske 2005: 109; translated from German).


She is remembered as someone strongly committed to research and professional policy, with a decisive influence on thinking in her field as well as on today’s system of psychotherapeutic care provision in Germany. Dührssen formulated her basic professional position as early as 1949 in her article on psychopathy and neurosis where she clearly argues for the necessity of an understanding between psychoanalysis and psychiatry: “An understanding between the two scientific disciplines without polemics and supported by the willingness to make factual amendments if necessary will, in any case, only benefit future scientific development” (1949: 400; translated from German).



1981: Dr-Heinrich-Hoffmann-Medal, awarded by the German Society of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Psychosomatics, and Psychotherapy.



Akademie für Psychoanalyse und Psychotherapie München (AM) (ed.) (2020): Die Geschichte der Akademie für Psychoanalyse und Psychotherapie. URL: [04/28/2021].

Berger M. (2009): Annemarie Dührssen – Ihr Leben und Wirken. In: (2), pp. 14–18.

Castell, R., J. Nedoschull, M. Rupps, D. Bussiek (2003): Geschichte der Kinder- und Jugendpsychiatrie in Deutschland in den Jahren 1937 bis 1961. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht.

Deutsche Psychoanalytische Gesellschaft (DPG) (ed.) (2021): DPG-Homepage – Informationen – Ehrenmitglieder. URL: [04/28/2021].

Dörre, S. (2017): Fachgesellschaften als Grenzzieher – boundary work in den Psychowissenschaften. Berlin (Typoskript). 

Dörre, S. (2021): “Im wesentlichen von den Psychiatern gesteuert, welche uns das ganze Problem eingebrockt haben.” Die Psychotherapie in der Psychiatrie-Enquete. In: LuziferAmor - Zeitschrift für Geschichte der Psychoanalyse 67 (special issue), pp. 7-48.

Duckheim, S. (2021): “… daß jedes Besser ein Feind des Guten ist …” Zu Annemarie Dührssens Plädoyer für eine realitätsgerechte Psychoanalyse im Kontext ihrer Wirksamkeitsstudien. In: LuziferAmor - Zeitschrift für Geschichte der Psychoanalyse 67 (special issue), pp. 49-76.

Duckheim, S. (2019): Annemarie Dührssen oder die gesundheitspolitische Anpassung der Psychoanalyse. In: A. Geisthövel, B. Hitzer (eds.): Auf der Suche nach einer anderen Medizin. Psychosomatik im 20. Jahrhundert. Frankfurt on the Main: Suhrkamp, pp. 233–242.

Dührssen, A. (1949): Psychopathie und Neurose. In: Psyche 2, pp. 380–400.

Dührssen, A. (1952): Zur Frage der Anlagefaktoren, welche die Persönlichkeitsentwicklung gefährden. In: Psyche 6, pp. 67–80.

Dührssen, A. (1954): Psychogene Erkrankungen bei Kindern und Jugendlichen. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht.

Dührssen, A. (1962): Katamnestische Ergebnisse bei 1004 Patienten nach analytischer Psychotherapie. In: Zeitschrift für Psychosomatische Medizin 8, pp. 94–113.

Dührssen, A. (1972): Analytische Psychotherapie. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht.

Dührssen, A. (1981): Biographische Anamnese. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht.

Dührssen, A. (1984): Risikofaktoren für die neurotische Krankheitsentwicklung. In: Zeitschrift für Psychosomatische Medizin 30, pp. 18–42.

Dührssen, A. (1988): Dynamische Psychotherapie. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht.

Dührssen, A. (1958): Heimkinder und Pflegekinder in ihrer Entwicklung. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht.

Dührssen, A. (1960): Psychotherapie bei Kindern und Jugendlichen. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht.

Dührssen, A. (1943): Zur Kenntnis der Fibrome der Tunica vaginalis testis. Dissertation. Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Berlin.

Dührssen, A., E. Jorswieck (1965): Eine empirisch-statistische Untersuchung zur Leistungsfähigkeit psychoanalytischer Behandlung. In: Der Nervenarzt 36, pp. 166–169. 

Dührssen A., K. Lieberz (1999): Der Risiko-Index. Ein Verfahren zur Einschätzung und Gewichtung von psychosozialen Belastungen in Kindheit und Jugend. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht.

Dührssen, A. (1956/57): Die Beurteilung des Behandlungserfolgs in der Psychotherapie. In: Zeitschrift für Psychosomatische Medizin 3, pp. 201–210.

Dührssen, A. (1964): Katamnestische Untersuchungen zur Gruppentherapie. Ergebnisse bei 270 behandelten Patienten fünf Jahre nach Abschluß der Therapie. In: Zeitschrift für Psychosomatische Medizin 10, pp. 120–126. 

Dührssen, A. (1971): Zum 25-jährigen Bestehen des Instituts für Psychogene Erkrankungen der Allgemeinen Ortskrankenkasse Berlin. In: Zeitschrift für Psychosomatische Medizin 17, pp. 21–41.

Dührssen, A. (1993): Die “strenge, tendenzlose Analyse” und die Psychoanalyse der Kriegsneurosen. In: Zeitschrift für Psychosomatische Medizin 3, pp. 200–204. 

Dührssen, A. (1994): Ein Jahrhundert Psychoanalytische Bewegung in Deutschland. Die Psychotherapie unter dem Einfluß Freuds. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht.

Kreuzer-Haustein, U., G. Schmidt (1996): Kritischer Kommentar zu Annemarie Dührssen. Ein Jahrhundert Psychoanalytische Bewegung in Deutschland. In: Psyche 50, pp. 564–574.

Lockot, R. (1985): Erinnern und Durcharbeiten. Zur Geschichte der Psychoanalyse und Psychotherapie im Nationalsozialismus. Giessen: Psychosozial-Verlag.

Lockot, R. (1994): Die Reinigung der Psychoanalyse. Die Deutsche Psychoanalytische Gesellschaft im Spiegel von Dokumenten und Zeitzeugen (1933–1951). Tübingen: Psychosozial-Verlag.

Lockot, R. (2010): DPV und DPG auf dem dünnen Eis der DGPT. Zur Beziehungsgeschichte von Deutscher Psychoanalytischer Vereinigung (DPV) und Deutscher Psychoanalytischer Gesellschaft (DPG) innerhalb der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Psychotherapie und Tiefenpsychologie (DGPT) bis 1967. In: Psyche 64, pp. 1206–1242.

Nölleke, B. (ed.) (2019): Annemarie Dührssen (1916–1998). In: Psychoanalytikerinnen in Deutschland. Hamburg. URL: [04/28/2021].

Remschmidt, H. (1999): Nachruf auf Annemarie Dührssen. In: Zeitschrift für Kinder- und Jugendpsychiatrie und Psychotherapie 27 (1), p. 76.

Rudolf, G., U. Ruger (2016): Psychotherapie in sozialer Verantwortung. Annemarie Dührssen und die Entwicklung der Psychotherapie. Stuttgart: Schattauer.

Rüger, U. (1999): In memoriam. Annemarie Dührssen (1916–1998). In: Der Nervenarzt 70, pp. 482–483.

Schott, H., R. Tölle (2006): Geschichte der Psychiatrie: Krankheitslehren, Irrwege, Behandlungsformen. Munich: Beck.

Schultz-Venrath, U. (1995): Der Missbrauch von Geschichte als transgenerationelles Traumatisierungsphänomen. Zu Annemarie Dührssens “Ein Jahrhundert Psychoanalytische Bewegung in Deutschland.” In: Psyche 49, pp. 392–403. 

Söhner, F. (2021): Zwischen Ablehnung und Anerkennung – die Erinnerung an die Psychotherapie im Reformprozess der Psychiatrie. In: LuziferAmor - Zeitschrift für Geschichte der Psychoanalyse 67 (special issue), pp. 77-91.

Söhner, F., H. Fangerau, T. Becker (2017): Die Psychoanalyse als Impulsgeber für die Psychiatrie-Enquête: Ergebnisse aus Akten und Zeitzeugengesprächen. In: Fortschritte der Neurologie und Psychiatrie 85 (12), pp. 728–739. 

Söhner, F., T. Halling, T. Becker, H. Fangerau (2018): Auf dem Weg zur Reform: Ein netzwerkanalytischer Blick auf die Akteure im Vorfeld der “Psychiatrie-Enquête” von 1971. In: Sudhoffs Archiv 102, pp. 172–210. 

Stumm, G., Pritz, A., Gumhalter, P., Nemerski, N., Voracek, M. (eds.) (2005): Personenlexikon der Psychotherapie. Vienna: Springer, pp. 109–110.

Tschuske, V. (2005): Dührssen, Annemarie. In: G. Stumm, A. Pritz, P. Gumhalter, N. Nemerski, M. Voracek (eds.) Personenlexikon der Psychotherapie. Vienna: Springer, pp. 109–110.

Winkler, F. (1999): Leben und wissenschaftliches Werk der Fachärztin für Psychiatrie und Neurologie, Psychotherapeutin sowie Psychoanalytikerin Annemarie Dührssen unter besonderer Berücksichtigung ihres Wirkens für die Kinder- und Jugendpsychiatrie. Diploma thesis. TU Dresden.


Felicitas Söhner


Referencing format
Felicitas Söhner (2021): Dührssen, Annemarie.
In: Biographisches Archiv der Psychiatrie.
(retrieved on:22.02.2024)