Martin Grotjahn; Pioneered Psychiatry in Western U.S.


Dr. Martin Grotjahn, a pioneer psychiatrist, psychoanalyst, teacher and author who developed psychoanalytic training in the Western United States, has died. He was 86.

Grotjahn died Sept. 30 of heart disease at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, his associate, Dr. Arnold L. Gilberg, said Friday.

Four decades ago, he established Southern California’s first psychoanalytic training center, the Los Angeles Psychoanalytic Institute. He later became the first dean of the Southern California Psychoanalytic Institute. He taught psychiatry at the USC School of Medicine and maintained a private practice in Beverly Hills.

Grotjahn, who was considered an expert on both the psychology of groups and individual behavior, wrote and spoke frequently on the subjects.


His books included “Beyond Laughter,” “Psychoanalysis and the Family Neurosis” and “Hess, the Man and His Machine,” which explored the psychology of Rudolf Hess and the regime of Adolf Hitler.

Three years ago, Grotjahn published a memoir, “My Favorite Patient.” He was working on a book called “Aging Gracefully” at the time of his death, according to Gilberg.

Born and educated in Berlin, Grotjahn was considered a worldwide authority who melded psychoanalytic techniques practiced in Europe and America. Contending that “there was no room for both Hitler and me in the same town,” he moved his young family to Topeka, Kan., where he worked with the Menninger Clinic.

After serving in the U.S. military during World War II, Grotjahn practiced at the Chicago Institute for Psychoanalysis and later moved to Los Angeles.


He is survived by his wife, Dr. Etelka Grotjahn, his son, Dr. Michael Grotjahn, and two grandsons.