On This Day … 03 December

People (Births)

  • 1895 – Anna Freud, Austrian-English psychologist and psychoanalyst (d. 1982)
  • 1943 – J. Philippe Rushton, English-Canadian psychologist and academic (d. 2012).

People (Deaths)

  • 2008 – Robert Zajonc, Polish-American psychologist and author (b. 1923).
  • 2014 – Nathaniel Branden, Canadian-American psychotherapist and author (b. 1930).

Anna Freud

Anna Freud (03 December 1895 to 09 October 1982) was an Austrian-British psychoanalyst. She was born in Vienna, the sixth and youngest child of Sigmund Freud and Martha Bernays. She followed the path of her father and contributed to the field of psychoanalysis. Alongside Melanie Klein, she may be considered the founder of psychoanalytic child psychology.

Compared to her father, her work emphasized the importance of the ego and its normal “developmental lines” as well as incorporating a distinctive emphasis on collaborative work across a range of analytical and observational contexts.

After the Freud family were forced to leave Vienna in 1938 with the advent of the Nazi regime in Austria, she resumed her psychoanalytic practice and her pioneering work in child psychology in London, establishing the Hampstead Child Therapy Course and Clinic in 1952 (now the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families) as a centre for therapy, training and research work.

J. Philippe Rushton

John Philippe Rushton (03 December 1943 to 02 October 2012) was a Canadian psychologist and author. He taught at the University of Western Ontario and became known to the general public during the 1980s and 1990s for research on race and intelligence, race and crime, and other apparent racial variations. His book Race, Evolution, and Behaviour (1995) is about the application of r/K selection theory to humans.

Rushton’s work was heavily criticised by the scientific community for the questionable quality of its research, with many alleging that it was conducted under a racist agenda. From 2002 until his death, he served as the head of the Pioneer Fund, an organization founded in 1937 to promote Eugenics, which worked actively with the Nazi party to promote theories of racial superiority and inferiority, and has been described as racist and white supremacist and designated as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Centre. Rushton was a Fellow of the Canadian Psychological Association and a onetime Fellow of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation.

Robert Zajonc

Robert Bolesław Zajonc (23 November 1923 to 03 December 2008) was a Polish-born American social psychologist who is known for his decades of work on a wide range of social and cognitive processes. One of his most important contributions to social psychology is the mere-exposure effect. Zajonc also conducted research in the areas of social facilitation, and theories of emotion, such as the affective neuroscience hypothesis.

He also made contributions to comparative psychology. He argued that studying the social behaviour of humans alongside the behaviour of other species, is essential to our understanding of the general laws of social behaviour. An example of his viewpoint is his work with cockroaches that demonstrated social facilitation, evidence that this phenomenon is displayed regardless of species.

A Review of General Psychology survey, published in 2002, ranked Zajonc as the 35th most cited psychologist of the 20th century.

He died of pancreatic cancer on 03 December 2008 in Palo Alto, California, and is survived by his wife Hazel Rose Markus and his four children.

Nathaniel Branden

Nathaniel Branden (born Nathan Blumenthal; 09 April 1930 to 03 December 2014) was a Canadian–American psychotherapist and writer known for his work in the psychology of self-esteem.

A former associate and romantic partner of Ayn Rand, Branden also played a prominent role in the 1960s in promoting Rand’s philosophy, Objectivism.

Rand and Branden split acrimoniously in 1968, after which Branden focused on developing his own psychological theories and modes of therapy.

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