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Biography and Bibliography

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Arno Gruen was born in Berlin in 1923, and emigrated to the United States as a child in 1936 when his parents, James and Rosa Gruen, fled Germany to save their lives. During the journey, Gruen celebrated his Bar Mitzvah in the Great Synagogue of Warsaw, on June 6, 1936. He studied at the City College of New York. Then, after completing his graduate studies in psychology at New York University, he trained in psychoanalysis under Theodor Reik at one of the first psychoanalytic training centers for psychologists, the National Psychological Association for Psychoanalysis in New York City.

Dr. Gruen held many teaching posts, including seventeen years as professor of psychology at Rutgers University. From 1979 on, he lived and practiced in Switzerland. Widely published in German, his groundbreaking first book to be released in English, The Betrayal of the Self, was published by Grove Press in 1988.

Gruen's place in the history of psychology can be summarized as follows. According to Sigmund Freud, human beings are born with an innate tendency to destruction and violence; throughout his scholarly and clinical career, Prof. Gruen challenged that assumption, arguing instead that at the root of evil lies self-hatred, a rage originating in a self-betrayal that begins in childhood, when autonomy is surrendered in exchange for the "love" of those who wield power over us.

To share in that subjugating power, people create a false self, a pleasing-to-others image of themselves that springs from a powerful, deep-seated fear of being hurt, humiliated or abandoned. Gruen traced this pattern of over-adaptation, and the fate of those who resist the pressure to conform, through a number of case studies, sociological phenomena—from Nazism to Reaganomics—and literary works. The insanity of rage and numbness that this hyper-conformity produces, unfortunately, goes widely unrecognized precisely because it has become the cold, tough "realism" that modern society inculcates into its members and even admires.

Gruen warned, however, that escape from these patterns lies not simply in rebellion, for rebels often remain emotionally tied to the objects of their rebellion, but in the development of a personal autonomy and a relinquishing of all forms of self-numbing and self-deception. His elegant and far-reaching conclusion, elaborated in the books and essays listed below, is that while autonomy and authenticity are not easily attained, their absence proves catastrophic to both the individual and society as the embittered conformists seek new victims on whom to wreak violence and avenge their psychic wounds.

In 2001, Gruen was awarded the Geschwister-Scholl-Preis for his work, Der Fremde in uns.


  • (2010)  War or Peace?  We cannot survive with Real-Politik.  An enlarged version of the acceptance speech given on receiving the the Finnish “Loviisa Peace Prize 2010”.
  • (2003) The Journal of Psychohistory, Vol. 30, No. 3, Winter 2003, pp. 266-272.: An Unrecognized Pathology: "The Mask of Humaneness"
  • (2002) The Hitler Myth: The Journal of Psychohistory Vol. 29, No.3 Winter 2002, pp. 312-327. 
  • (2002) The Need to Punish: The Political Consequences of Identifying With the Aggressor: from Martti Siirala's 80th Birthday Seminar Lecture, 30th November 2002, Helsinki. It also appeared in a slightly different form in The Journal of Psychohistory, Vol. 27, No. 2, Fall 1999: pp. 136-154.
  • (2001) The Journal of Psychohistory, Vol. 28, No. 4, Spring 2001: pp. 362-451. Surrendering the Self: The Reduction of Identity to Identification with the Aggressor (The Cases of Hermann Goering and Rudolf Hess)
  • (1998) Reductionistic Biological Thinking and the Denial of Experience and Pain in Developmental Theories,] J. Humanistic Psychology Vol. 38, No. 2, Spring 1998, pp. 84-102 
  • (1978) On Abstraction: The Reduction and Destruction of Human Experience, J. Humanistic Psychology Vol. 18. No. 1, Winter 1978, pp. 37-45.
  • (1976) Autonomy and Compliance: The Fundamental Antithesis, J. Humanistic Psychology Vol. 16, No. 3, Summer 1976, pp. 61-66 
  • (1968) Autonomy and Identification: The Paradox of their Opposition, The International Journal of Psychoanalysis, Vol. 49 1968 (4), pp. 648- 655 

Books in German

  • (1984) Der Verrat am Selbst: Die Angst vor Autonomie bei Mann und Frau The Betrayal of the Self - published 1988
  • (1987) Der Wahnsinn der Normalität Realismus als Krankheit: eine grundlegende Theorie zur menschlichen Destruktivitä The Insanity of Normality - published 1992)
  • (1997) Der Verlust des Mitgefühls Über die Politik der Gleichgültigkeit. (The Loss of Compassion)
  • (1999) Ein früher Abschied (A Study of SID) See related English paper: The Relation of SID and parental unconscious conflict (1987) 
  • (2000) Der Fremde in uns (The Stranger Within Us) See English papers based on: The Hitler Myth (2001), The Need to Punish (2002)
  • (2001) Hass in der Seele, with D. Weber (Hatred in the Soul)
  • (2002) Der Kampf um die Demokratie (The Struggle for Democracy: extremism, violence and terror)
  • (2003) Verratene Liebe - Falsche Götter (Betrayed Love/False Gods)