On This Day … 17 July

People (Births)

  • 1911 – Heinz Lehmann, German-Canadian psychiatrist and academic (d. 1999).
  • 1923 – Jeanne Block, American psychologist (d. 1981).

People (Deaths)

  • 1991 – John Patrick Spiegel, American psychiatrist and academic (b. 1911).

Heinz Lehmann

Heinz Edgar Lehmann OC FRSC (17 July 1911 to 07 April 1999) was a German-born Canadian psychiatrist best known for his use of chlorpromazine for the treatment of schizophrenia in 1950s and “truly the father of modern psychopharmacology.”

Early Life

Born in Berlin, Germany, he was educated at the University of Freiburg, the University of Marburg, the University of Vienna, and the University of Berlin. He emigrated to Canada in 1937.

Hospital Work in Canada

In 1947, he was appointed the clinical director of Montreal’s Douglas Hospital. From 1971 to 1975, he was the chair of the McGill University Department of Psychiatry. He was also a humane lecturer in psychiatry in 1952, and was able to give empathetic lectures on the plight of people suffering from anxiety, depression obsessions, paranoia etc. No one to that time had been able to understand or help schizophrenic patients, who filled mental hospitals around the world, so when chlorpromazine showed some promise he helped to promote it in North America and start the drug revolution. He was ahead of his time in that he supported research in the use of the active ingredient psilocybin to alleviate anxiety.

Le Dain Commission

From 1969 to 1972, he was one of the five members of the Le Dain Commission, a royal commission appointed in Canada to study the non-medical use of drugs. He was an advocate for decriminalisation of marijuana.

DSM Work

In 1973, he was a member of the Nomenclature Committee of the American Psychiatric Association that decided to drop homosexuality from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, i.e. to depathologise it.

Honours and Awards

In 1970 he was made a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and, in 1976, he was made an Officer of the Order of Canada. He was inducted into the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame in 1998.

Heinz Lehmann Award

In 1999, the Canadian College of Neuropsychopharmacology established the Heinz Lehmann Award in his honour, given in recognition of outstanding contributions to research in neuropsychopharmacology in Canada.

Jeanne Block

Jeanne Lavonne Humphrey Block (17 July 1923 to 04 December 1981) was an American psychologist and expert on child development. She conducted research into sex-role socialisation and, with her husband Jack Block, created a person-centred personality framework. Block was a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and conducted her research with the National Institute of Mental Health and the University of California, Berkeley. She was an active researcher when she was diagnosed with cancer in 1981.

Early Life and Education

Block was born in 1923 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She was raised in a small town in Oregon. After graduating from high school, she entered Oregon State University as a home economics major, but she was dissatisfied with her education. She joined SPARS, the women’s branch of the United States Coast Guard, in 1944. While serving in World War II, Block was badly burned and nearly died. She was treated with skin grafts, and she was able to return to military service until 1946.

In 1947, after completing a psychology degree at Reed College, she attended graduate school at Stanford University. At Stanford, Block met two mentors, Ernest Hilgard and Maud Merrill James. Hilgard wrote a popular general psychology textbook and co-wrote a textbook on learning theories, and he became president of the American Psychological Association. James had been an associate of intelligence researcher Lewis Terman. Block also met her future husband and research collaborator, Jack Block, during her time at Stanford.


Pregnant at the time she finished her Ph.D. at Stanford in 1951, Block worked mostly part-time in the 1950s while she raised four children. Block and her husband created a person-centred personality theory that became popular among personality researchers. The theory examined personality in terms of two variables, ego-resiliency (the ability to respond flexibly to changing situations) and ego-control (the ability to suppress impulses). In 1963, she was awarded a National Institute of Mental Health fellowship and she moved with her family to Norway for a year. She joined the faculty as a research psychologist at the University of California, Berkeley’s Institute of Human Development in 1965. She became a professor-in-residence in the department of psychology in 1979.

In the 1970s, Block published an analysis the sex-role socialisation occurring in several groups of children in the United States and Northern Europe. Even across countries, boys were typically raised to be independent, high-achieving and unemotional, and girls were generally encouraged to express feelings, to foster close relationships and to pursue typical feminine ideals.

Block was made a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 1980 and received the Lester N. Hofheimer Prize for outstanding psychiatric research from the American Psychological Association (APA) in 1979. She was elected president of the APA Division of Developmental Psychology.

In 1984 her book, Sex Role Identity and Ego Development was published posthumously.

John Patrick Spiegel

John Paul Spiegel (17 March 1911 to 17 July 1991) was an American psychiatrist, and expert on violence and combat stress and the 103rd President of the American Psychiatric Association (APA). As president-elect of the APA in 1973, he helped to change the definition of homosexuality in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) which had previously described homosexuality as sexual deviance and that homosexuals were pathological.

Spiegel was born in Chicago, Illinois, attended Dartmouth College and graduated in 1934. He received his medical degree in 1938 from Northwestern University School of Medicine. He later taught at the University of Chicago and Harvard University, and practiced medicine at Michael Reese Hospital.

During World War II, he served as a medical officer in the Army Air Corps. He joined the faculty of Brandeis University, where he headed the Lemberg Centre for the Study of Violence from 1966 to 1979.

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