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Peter Boller

"Changing the world with psychology"

The "Zurich School" Friedrich Favorit and society 1952-1982
Chronos Verlag, Zurich 2007
ISBN 9783034008532
Hardcover, 492 pages, 44.80 EUR


With Friedrich Liebling's psychological teaching and counseling center, the city of Zurich became a "Mecca for psychology students". From the late 1960s to the 1980s, this so-called Zurich School was the largest psychological movement in Switzerland, most recently with a good 3,000 participants at home and abroad. The founder, Friedrich Liebling (1893-1982), succeeded in combining the committed psychological and educational work with visionary social criticism. The group processes opened up freedom and development opportunities on the one hand, but tended towards conformity on the other. On the basis of interviews, state security and litigation files as well as other previously untapped sources, the author examines the motives on the basis of which people of different origins joined this group, the processes within the movement as well as the reasons for keeping a distance and the "school" to leave again.

Review note on Neue Z├╝rcher Zeitung, November 16, 2007

The reviewer Urs Haffner attests skill, but also a lack of distance, to the historian Peter Boller and his historical study of the PLBS psychological teaching and counseling center, known for short as the "Zurich School" Promotion of the psychological knowledge of human nature VPM emerged. The reviewer was surprised that the conservative-reactionary VPM goes back to the left-wing social psychologist Friedrich Liebling, who emphasized the social embedding of the individual and based his therapy concept of healing in the group on this. In 25 interviews with contemporary witnesses, Peter Boller reconstructs the humanistic social criticism on which the Zurich school was based, which the reviewer considers interesting and well researched. But he criticizes the author for overemphasizing the positive sides of the PLBS, to which he himself belonged for almost ten years, instead of going into the clearly noticeable "basic authoritarian structure of a group fixated on its charismatic leader" in the interviews.