On This Day … 12 October

Events

People (Births)

  • 1925 – Denis Lazure, Canadian psychiatrist and politician (d. 2008).
  • 1929 – Robert Coles, American psychologist, author, and academic.

People (Deaths)

  • 1948 – Susan Sutherland Isaacs, English psychologist and psychoanalyst (b. 1885).

Eastern State Hospital (Virginia)

Eastern State Hospital is a psychiatric hospital in Williamsburg, Virginia. Built in 1773, it was the first public facility in the present-day United States constructed solely for the care and treatment of the mentally ill. The original building had burned but was reconstructed in 1985.

Denis Lazure

Denis Lazure (12 October 1925 to 23 February 2008) was a Canadian psychiatrist and politician. Lazure was a Member of the National Assembly of Quebec (MNA) from 1976 to 1984 and from 1989 to 1996. He is the father of actress Gabrielle Lazure.

Lazure attended Université de Montréal and was a doctorate in medicine. He also attended the University of Pennsylvania in psychiatry as well as the University of Toronto in which he was bachelor in hospital administration.

Lazure was the founder of the infant psychiatry department of Saint-Justine Hospital in 1957. He was also the director of this hospital as well as those of Riviere-des-Prairies and Louis-Hippolyte Lafontaine all in the Montreal region. He would later be the director in 1974 of the first psychiatric hospital in Haiti. He was also a teacher at Université de Montréal and was the President of the Canadian Association of Psychiatrists.

Robert Coles

Robert Coles (born 12 October 1929) is an American author, child psychiatrist, and professor emeritus at Harvard University.

Born Martin Robert Coles in Boston, Massachusetts on 12 October 1929, to Philip Coles, an immigrant from Leeds, England, United Kingdom, and Sandra Young Coles, originally from Sioux City, Iowa. Robert Coles attended Boston Latin School where he played tennis, ran track, and edited the school literary magazine. He entered Harvard College in 1946, where he studied English literature and helped to edit the undergraduate literary magazine, The Harvard Advocate. He graduated magna cum laude and earned Phi Beta Kappa honours in 1950.

Coles originally intended to become a teacher or professor, but as part of his senior honours thesis, he interviewed the poet and physician William Carlos Williams, who promptly persuaded him to go into medicine. He studied medicine at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, graduating in 1954. After residency training at the University of Chicago in Chicago, Illinois (the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine), Coles moved on to psychiatric residencies at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, and McLean Hospital in Belmont, Massachusetts (the two hospitals are affiliates of Harvard University and the Harvard University Medical School in Cambridge, Massachusetts).

Knowing that he was to be called into the US Armed Forces under the Doctor Draft, Coles joined the Air Force in 1958 and was assigned the rank of captain. His field of specialisation was psychiatry, his intention eventually to sub-specialise in child psychiatry. He served as chief of neuropsychiatric services at Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi, Mississippi, and was honourably discharged in 1960. He returned to Boston and finished his child psychiatry training at the Children’s Hospital. In July 1960, he was married to Jane Hollowell, and the couple moved to New Orleans.

Susan Sutherland Isaacs

Susan Sutherland Isaacs, CBE (née Fairhurst; 24 May 1885 to 12 October 1948; also known as Ursula Wise) was a Lancashire-born educational psychologist and psychoanalyst. She published studies on the intellectual and social development of children and promoted the nursery school movement. For Isaacs, the best way for children to learn was by developing their independence. She believed that the most effective way to achieve this was through play, and that the role of adults and early educators was to guide children’s play.

In 1907, Isaacs enrolled to train as a teacher of young children (5 to 7-year-olds) at the University of Manchester. Isaacs then transferred to a degree course and graduated in 1912 with a first class degree in Philosophy. She was awarded a scholarship at the Psychological Laboratory in Newnham College, Cambridge and gained a master’s degree in 1913.

Isaacs also trained and practised as a psychoanalyst after analysis by the psychoanalyst John Carl Flugel (1884-1955). She became an associate member of the newly formed British Psychoanalytical Society in 1921, becoming a full member in 1923. She began her own practice that same year. She later underwent brief analysis with Otto Rank and in 1927 she submitted herself to further analysis with Joan Riviere, to get personal experience and understanding of Melanie Klein’s new ideas on infancy. Isaacs also helped popularise the works of Klein, as well as the theories of Jean Piaget and Sigmund Freud. She was initially enthusiastic for Jean Piaget’s theories on the intellectual development of young children, though she later criticised his schemas for stages of cognitive development, which were not based on the observation of the child in their natural environment, unlike her own observations at Malting House School.

Between 1924 and 1927, she was the head of Malting House School in Cambridge, which is an experimental school founded by Geoffrey Pyke. The school fostered the individual development of children. Children were given greater freedom and were supported rather than punished. The teachers were seen as observers of the children who were seen as research workers. Her work had a great influence on early education and made play a central part of a child’s education. Isaacs strongly believed that play was the child’s work.

Between 1929 and 1940, she was an ‘agony aunt’ under the pseudonym of Ursula Wise, replying to readers’ problems in several child care journals, notably The Nursery World and Home and School.

In 1933, she became the first Head of the Child Development Department at the Institute of Education, University of London, where she established an advanced course in child development for teachers of young children. Her department had a great influence on the teaching profession and encouraged the profession to consider psychodynamic theory with developmental psychology.

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