From New Yorker's "Why Freud Survies":

Psychoanalysis was also taking a hit within the medical community. Studies suggesting that psychoanalysis had a low cure rate had been around for a while. But the realization that depression and anxiety can be regulated by medication made a mode of therapy whose treatment times reached into the hundreds of billable hours seem, at a minimum, inefficient, and, at worst, a scam.

Managed-care companies and the insurance industry certainly drew that conclusion, and the third edition of the DSM, in 1980, scrubbed out almost every trace of Freudianism. The third edition was put together by a group of psychiatrists at Washington University, where, it is said, a framed picture of Freud was mounted above a urinal in the men’s room.

(Emphasis mine). Is there any truth to the last statement quoted, i.e. was there really a picture of Freud above a urinal at Washington University?

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    What does having a framed photo above, not in, a urinal mean about attitudes towards psychotherapy? I've been in restaurants where they have the daily sports page mounted for people to peruse while doing their business. I don't think it's a commentary on sports. Not a knock on OP, but rather the author of the article. Dec 4, 2017 at 15:36
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    "it is said" = I couldn't confirm this was true, but I liked the alleged detail too much to leave it out. Also, oddly, a quick googling suggests that DSM-III was not "put together by a group of psychiatrists at Washington University," though they may have contributed. Dec 4, 2017 at 19:21

1 Answer 1


Upon further investigation, I'd rank this as quite plausible because the 2013 book The Making of DSM-III: A Diagnostic Manual's Conquest of American Psychiatry, sorta confirms it, although it might have happened quite a bit earlier than the drafting of the DSM-III:

when the analysts opened the St. Louis Psychoanalytic Institute, [Samuel] Guze remembered, "it was clear that there was going to be a long, protracted 'war' with our department". Perhaps it was at this time, or after they had pushed the analysts out of the department when [Eli] Robins became chair in 1963 that they hung a picture of Freud over the urinal in the men's room. (It might have been the brainchild of the irreverent and caustic [George] Winokur.)

Furthermore Fall of an Icon: Psychoanalysis and Academic Psychiatry relates:

The atmosphere at the Washington University Department of Psychiatry became consciously iconoclastic. [Robert] Cloniger remembers a picture of Freud hung just over the urinal; he never found out if this was done by Robins, Guze, or Winokur, 'but it could have been any one of them - they were real characters'.

However no clear time frame is ascribed to the event in this book.

If someone knows of more convincing evidence, please post additional answer(s).

  • This is Washington University in St. Louis, yes?
    – Obie 2.0
    Dec 20, 2017 at 21:17
  • @Yes, in St. Louis. Dec 20, 2017 at 21:21
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    I could ask some of the longer-serving professors there in person.
    – Obie 2.0
    Dec 20, 2017 at 21:24

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