On This Day … 18 July [2022]

People (Births)

  • 1921 – Aaron Beck, American psychiatrist and academic (d. 2021).

People (Deaths)

  • 1990 – Karl Menninger, American psychiatrist and author (b. 1896).

Aaron Beck

Aaron Temkin Beck (18 July 1921 to 01 November 2021) was an American psychiatrist who was a professor in the department of psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania.

He is regarded as the father of cognitive therapy and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). His pioneering methods are widely used in the treatment of clinical depression and various anxiety disorders. Beck also developed self-report measures for depression and anxiety, notably the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI), which became one of the most widely used instruments for measuring the severity of depression. In 1994 he and his daughter, psychologist Judith S. Beck, founded the non-profit Beck Institute for Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, which provides CBT treatment and training, as well as research. Beck served as President Emeritus of the organisation up until his death.

Beck was noted for his writings on psychotherapy, psychopathology, suicide, and psychometrics. He published more than 600 professional journal articles, and authored or co-authored 25 books. He was named one of the “Americans in history who shaped the face of American psychiatry”, and one of the “five most influential psychotherapists of all time” by The American Psychologist in July 1989. His work at the University of Pennsylvania inspired Martin Seligman to refine his own cognitive techniques and later work on learned helplessness.

Karl Menninger

Karl Augustus Menninger (22 July 1893 to 18 July 1990) was an American psychiatrist and a member of the Menninger family of psychiatrists who founded the Menninger Foundation and the Menninger Clinic in Topeka, Kansas.

Beginning with an internship in Kansas City, Menninger worked at the Boston Psychopathic Hospital and taught at Harvard Medical School. In 1919, he returned to Topeka where, together with his father, he founded the Menninger Clinic. By 1925, they had attracted enough investors, including brother William C. Menninger, to build the Menninger Sanitarium. His book, The Human Mind, which explained the science of psychiatry, was published in 1930.

The Menninger Foundation was established in 1941. After World War II, Karl Menninger was instrumental in founding the Winter Veterans Administration Hospital, in Topeka. It became the largest psychiatric training centre in the world. He was among the first members of the Society for General Systems Research.

In 1946 he founded the Menninger School of Psychiatry. It was renamed in his honour in 1985 as the Karl Menninger School of Psychiatry and Mental Health Science. In 1952, Karl Targownik, who would become one of his closest friends, joined the Clinic.

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