Munsterberg's Clinical Psychology
Dr. Munsterberg had a long interest in mental illness. He began his practice in Germany and brought it to the United States. As one might imagine, Munsterberg had an unusual style when treating patients. He met them in his laboratory instead of a clinic and his only patients were those who were of scientific interest to him. None of these patients paid a fee. Believing that mental illness had a physiological basis, he first made diagnoses based on behavioral observations, an interview, and answers received by the patients whom he questioned. He often used word association tests as another cue for his diagnosis. After looking at these factors, if he felt that the patient was of scientific interest and that they were not mentally ill, Munsterberg would continue treatment, which was a direct approach. Direct suggestions and autosuggestions were used to encourage the patient to "expect" to get well. His main objective was to give his patients immediate relief. For example, he did this by assuring his patients that they would get a good night's sleep and low-and-behold, they would wake up feeling rested. Thus, immediate relief was felt. He used the same tactics in blocking negative or painful experiences and feelings.
Dr. Munsterberg reported that he saw success using these techniques in the treatment of a wide range of problems, including hallucinations, drug addiction, phobias, sexual disorders, alcoholism, and obsessions. He wrote about these clinical experiences in his book, Psychotherapy.