On This Day … 15 July

People (Births)

  • 1904 – Rudolf Arnheim, German-American psychologist and author (d. 2007).
  • 1918 – Brenda Milner, English-Canadian neuropsychologist and academic.

People (Deaths)

  • 1940 – Eugen Bleuler, Swiss psychiatrist and physician (b. 1857).

Rudolf Arnheim

Rudolf Arnheim (15 July 1904 to 09 June 2007) was a German-born author, art and film theorist, and perceptual psychologist. He learned Gestalt psychology from studying under Max Wertheimer and Wolfgang Köhler at the University of Berlin and applied it to art. His magnum opus was his book Art and Visual Perception: A Psychology of the Creative Eye (1954). Other major books by Arnheim have included Visual Thinking (1969), and The Power of the Center: A Study of Composition in the Visual Arts (1982). Art and Visual Perception was revised, enlarged and published as a new version in 1974, and it has been translated into fourteen languages. He lived in Germany, Italy, England, and America where he taught at Sarah Lawrence College, Harvard University, and the University of Michigan. He has greatly influenced art history and psychology in America.

In Art and Visual Perception, Arnheim tries to use science to better understand art. In his later book Visual Thinking (1969), Arnheim critiques the assumption that language goes before perception. For Arnheim, the only access to reality we have is through our senses. Arnheim also argues that perception is strongly identified with thinking, and that artistic expression is another way of reasoning. In The Power of the Centre, Arnheim addresses the interaction of art and architecture on concentric and grid spatial patterns. He argues that form and content are indivisible, and that the patterns created by artists reveal the nature of human experience.

Brenda Milner

Brenda Milner CC GOQ FRS FRSC (née Langford; 15 July 1918) is a British-Canadian neuropsychologist who has contributed extensively to the research literature on various topics in the field of clinical neuropsychology. As of 2010, Milner is a professor in the Department of Neurology and Neurosurgery at McGill University and a professor of Psychology at the Montreal Neurological Institute. As of 2005, she holds more than 20 degrees and continues to work in her nineties. Her current work covers many aspects of neuropsychology including her lifelong interest in the involvement of the temporal lobes in episodic memory. She is sometimes referred to as “the founder of neuropsychology” and has proven to be an essential key in its development. She received the Balzan Prize for Cognitive Neuroscience, in 2009, and the Kavli Prize in Neuroscience, together with John O’Keefe, and Marcus E. Raichle, in 2014. She turned 100 in July 2018 and at the time was still overseeing the work of researchers.

Eugen Bleuler

Paul Eugen Bleuler (30 April 1857 to 15 July 1939) was a Swiss psychiatrist and eugenicist most notable for his contributions to the understanding of mental illness. He coined many psychiatric terms, such as “schizophrenia”, “schizoid”, “autism”, depth psychology and what Sigmund Freud called “Bleuler’s happily chosen term ambivalence”.

Bleuler studied medicine in Zürich. He trained for his psychiatric residency at Waldau Hospital under Gottileb Burckhardt, a Swiss psychiatrist, from 1881-1884. He left his job in 1884 and spent one year on medical study trips with Jean-Martin Charcot, a French neurologist in Paris, Bernhard von Gudden, a German psychiatrist in Munich, and to London. After these trips, he returned to Zürich to briefly work as assistant to Auguste Forel while completing his psychiatric residency at the Burghölzli, a university hospital.

Bleuler became the director of a psychiatric clinic in Rheinau, a hospital located in an old monastery on an island in the Rhine. At the time, the clinic was known for being functionally backward and largely ineffective. Because of this, Bleuler set about improving conditions for the patients residing there.

In the year 1898, Bleuler returned to the Burghölzli and became a psychiatry professor at Burghölzli, the same university hospital he completed his residency. He was also appointed director of the mental asylum in Rheinau. He served as the director from the years 1898 to 1927. While working at this asylum, Bleuler cared for long-term psychiatric patients. He also implemented both psychoanalytic treatment and research, and was influenced by Sigmund Freud.

During his time as the director of psychiatry at Burghölzli, Bleuler made great contributions to the field of psychiatry and psychology that made him known today. Because of these findings, Bleuler has been described as one of the most influential Swiss psychiatrists.

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