Menninger was a prolific writer. Among his books were The Human Mind (1930), which brought psychoanalytic understanding to the lay public, Man Against Himself (1938), in which he explored self-destructiveness (and made a compelling case for the validity of Freud's death instinct), Love Against Hate (1992), which examined the human capacity to overcome self-destructiveness, and his magnum opus, The Vital Balance (1963). He was also intensely interested in the penal system, and in his book The Crime of Punishment, he suggested that many convicted criminals needed treatment rather than punishment (1968). His volume, Theory of Psychoanalytic Technique, was one of the few books to examine the theoretical underpinnings for the analyst's interventions.
Menninger spent his life as a champion of the under-dog. He was a crusader for a variety of causes, including the American Indian, nuclear nonproliferation, neglected and abused children, and penal reform. In 1981 he received the Medal of Freedom, the United States's highest civilian honor, from President Jimmy Carter.
****"The theoretical underpinnings" are of concern to all of us, and that so in view of our assumptions, that "We have always believed...." Our theoretical underpinnings are usually completely and utterly unknown to us, being the underpinnings we build our assumptions atop, not knowing how shaky and perhaps how rotten they are. Karl Menninger condemned mere "common sense," and our public intellectuals today, not knowing or perhaps having forgotten where this thesis originated, assume they have always despised mere common sense, all right-thinking people knowing it is essential to delve down to the theoretical underpinnings of ideology, regardless of how little they see of it once there in a Gnostic fog. Hubris and ignorance replace common sense in favor of gnostic moralisms and self-righteousness and murder by socialism. All this because once a man told the smart that common sense is beneath them; and the smart were impressed enough to abandon it in favor of mystic awareness of the cosmic truths known only to them. Not no dog-kickers them, the smart took up the theoretical underpinnings and ran with them into the mists of the unknowable in pursuit of glory and utopia and feel-good. I can't count so high as to number the dead I've witnessed due to the lack of common sense emanating from our public intellectuals. We must excavate our intellectual foundations. We must be archaeologists of our public intellectual culture. We cannot assume any longer that the Gnostics know anything of value. We have to rip up the planks of desolate edifices to examine why we live atop such a crumbling culture. Menninger and thousands like him lay at the bottom of our ill. We have to expose these men and women to the light of conscious analysis, opening up our own assumed "theoretical underpinnings" so we can resume the natural position of mere common sense.
To know is delight.
To know why is divine.
To know that common sense is common sense is just normal. To miss that is too usual. We have to point out the reality and benefit of common sense to those, our Gnostic superiour intellectuals. And we have to show them why they assume the idiot "theoretical underpinnings" they live for. Then we move on. Common sense dictates it.