Rapaport-Klein Study Group

History of the Group

When David Rapaport suddenly died (December 14, 1960) he was actively engaged in his career of revising and extending psychoanalytic theory and attempting to subject parts of it to experimental test. He maintained active communication with a wide circle of colleagues, former students, and interested scholars around the world. It seemed to several of them that they might be able to continue this program to some degree, by maintaining contact with one another. An annual gathering occurred to a small group of former colleagues as a natural way to do so. Thanks to her researches into old files of the Austen Riggs Center, Deborah Browning has discovered that in June 1962 four people (Philip Holzman, Robert Holt, George Klein, and Fred Schwartz) met in New York City and decided to start the group. Robert Knight generously offered the hospitality of the Austen Riggs Center where Rapaport had worked since leaving the Menninger Foundation (Topeka, Kansas) in 1948 and of which Knight was then director. So, the convenors sent out invitations to all close associates of Rapaport known to them, and those who responded met for the first time on June 13 and 14, 1963 at the Austen Riggs Center (Stockbridge, Massachusetts, USA). (See the 1963 meeting program, with the letter of invitation and the list the participating members.)

The first meeting succeeded well enough for the group to decide to continue, under the name of the Rapaport Study Group. From its beginning, the participants shared an interest in studying theoretical and clinical aspects of psychoanalysis and psychology, especially from a research point of view. Eager for the meetings to avoid becoming just another professional convention where people read papers to one another, they decided to emphasize informal reports of work in progress, with plenty of time for free discussion. The group has continued to meet in the same place every year, on an early weekend in June.

Some of the more notable early members were Merton Gill, Margaret Brenman, Erik Erikson, and George S. Klein. When George Klein died (also quite suddenly, in the spring of 1971), at the meeting that followed a few months later the name of the group was changed to Rapaport-Klein Study Group. It has continued to function by invitation only, at first being limited mainly to students and immediate colleagues of the original members (see the members' list, and also the list of past members and presenters). In addition, staff members at Riggs are always invited, and the initial evening session is always open to all members of the Riggs community, to hear an invited outside speaker.

Here are the program committees of the group since its beginning (underlined names are those of the chairman or secretary):

1963-1964: Merton Gill, Robert Holt, Philip Holzman, Fred Schwartz
1965: Robert Holt, Philip Holzman, Fred Schwartz, Peter Wolff
1966: Zellig Harris, Sydney Segal, Peter Wolff, Philip Holzman
1967: Zellig Harris, Sydney Segal, Howard Shevrin, Peter Wolff
1968: Zellig Harris, George Klein, Sydney Segal, Howard Shevrin, Peter Wolff
1969: Stuart Miller, Sydney Segal, Howard Shevrin, Peter Wolff
1970: Phebe Cramer, Sibylle Escalona, George Klein, Stuart Miller
1971: Stuart Miller, Howard Shevrin, Donald Spence
1972-1974: Leo Goldberger
1975-1977: Jean Schimek
1978-1989: Philip Holzman & Peter Wolff
1990-2001: Morris N. Eagle & Norbert Freedman
2002-2010: Paul Lippmann & Doris K. Silverman
2011-2012: Craig Piers & Doris K. Silverman
Since 2013: Andrew J. Gerber, Paolo Migone, Craig Piers

Robert R. Holt

Web Editor: Paolo Migone. For suggestions or corrections, please e-mail to: