On This Day … 31 October [2022]

People (Births)

  • 1918 – Ian Stevenson, American psychiatrist and academic (d. 2007).
  • 1929 – William Orchard, Australian water polo player and psychiatrist (d. 2014).

People (Deaths)

  • 1939 – Otto Rank, Austrian psychologist, author, and educator (b. 1884).

Ian Stevenson

Ian Pretyman Stevenson (31 October 1918 to 08 February 2007) was a Canadian-born American psychiatrist, the founder and director of the Division of Perceptual Studies at the University of Virginia School of Medicine.

He was a professor at the University of Virginia School of Medicine for fifty years. He was chair of their department of psychiatry from 1957 to 1967, Carlson Professor of Psychiatry from 1967 to 2001, and Research Professor of Psychiatry from 2002 until his death in 2007.

As founder and director of the University of Virginia School of Medicine’s Division of Perceptual Studies (originally named “Division of Personality Studies”), which investigates the paranormal, Stevenson became known for his research into cases he considered suggestive of reincarnation – the idea that emotions, memories, and even physical bodily features can be passed on from one incarnation to another. In the course of his forty years doing international fieldwork, he researched three thousand cases of children who claimed to remember past lives. His position was that certain phobias, philias, unusual abilities and illnesses could not be fully explained by genetics or the environment. He believed that, in addition to genetics and the environment, reincarnation might possibly provide a third, contributing factor.

William Orchard

William Henry “Bill” Orchard (31 October 1929 to 27 October 2014) was an Australian water polo player and psychiatrist. He represented Australia at the 1952 Helsinki Olympics and at the 1956 Olympics in his home city of Melbourne.

Water Polo Career

He played for Australia over the period 1950-56 earning 50 Test Caps. He was studying towards his final year of medicine at the University of Melbourne whilst travelling by boat to and from Helsinki for the 1952 Olympics but nevertheless managed to finish amongst the top students of his graduating year.

Medical Career

He trained in psychiatry in the United States (on a Fulbright scholarship) and England and returned to Australia where he practised in psychiatry for over fifty years. He had special interests in the treatment of bipolar disorders and adult attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). At his consulting rooms in St. Kilda Road, Melbourne he conducted individual and group therapy sessions for many years. He was known for his advocacy of lithium medication.

Orchard decided to retire voluntarily in 2010, however he later applied to the Medical Board of Australia for re-registration, which was initially refused by the board, but overruled on appeal finding no grounds were made out.

Otto Rank

Otto Rank (neé Rosenfeld; 22 April 1884 to 31 October 1939) was an Austrian psychoanalyst, writer, and philosopher. Born in Vienna, he was one of Sigmund Freud’s closest colleagues for 20 years, a prolific writer on psychoanalytic themes, editor of the two leading analytic journals of the era, managing director of Freud’s publishing house, and a creative theorist and therapist. In 1926, Rank left Vienna for Paris and, for the remainder of his life, led a successful career as a lecturer, writer, and therapist in France and the United States.

On This Day … 08 February

People (Deaths)

  • 1964 – Ernst Kretschmer, German psychiatrist and author (b. 1888).
  • 2007 – Ian Stevenson, Canadian-American psychiatrist and academic (b. 1918).

Ernst Kretschmer

Ernst Kretschmer (08 October 1888 to 08 February 1964) was a German psychiatrist who researched the human constitution and established a typology.

Kretschmer was born in Wüstenrot near Heilbronn. He attended Cannstatt Gymnasium, one of the oldest Latin schools in Stuttgart area. From 1906 to 1912 he studied theology, medicine, and philosophy at the universities of Tübingen, Munich and Hamburg. From 1913 he was assistant of Robert Gaupp in Tübingen, where he received his habilitation in 1918. He continued as assistant medical director until 1926.

In 1926 he became the director of the psychiatric clinic at Marburg University.

Kretschmer was a founding member of the International General Medical Society for Psychotherapy (AÄGP) which was founded on 12 January 1927. He was the president of AÄGP from 1929. In 1933 he resigned from the AÄGP for political reasons.

From 1946 until 1959, Kretschmer was the director of the psychiatric clinic of the University of Tübingen. He died, aged 75, in Tübingen.

Ian Stevenson

Ian Pretyman Stevenson (31 October 1918 to 08 February 2007) was a Canadian-born American psychiatrist. He worked for the University of Virginia School of Medicine for fifty years, as chair of the department of psychiatry from 1957 to 1967, Carlson Professor of Psychiatry from 1967 to 2001, and Research Professor of Psychiatry from 2002 until his death.

As founder and director of the university’s Division of Perceptual Studies, which investigates the paranormal, Stevenson became known for his research into cases he considered suggestive of reincarnation, the idea that emotions, memories, and even physical bodily features can be transferred from one life to another. Over a period of forty years in international fieldwork, he investigated three thousand cases of children who claimed to remember past lives. His position was that certain phobias, philias, unusual abilities and illnesses could not be fully explained by heredity or the environment. He believed that, in addition to genetics and the environment, reincarnation might possibly provide a third, contributing factor.

Stevenson helped found the Society for Scientific Exploration in 1982 and was the author of around three hundred papers and fourteen books on reincarnation, including Twenty Cases Suggestive of Reincarnation (1966), Cases of the Reincarnation Type (four volumes, 1975-1983) and European Cases of the Reincarnation Type (2003). His most ambitious work was the 2,268-page, two-volume Reincarnation and Biology: A Contribution to the Etiology of Birthmarks and Birth Defects (1997). This reported two hundred cases in which birthmarks and birth defects seemed to correspond in some way to a wound on the deceased person whose life the child recalled. He wrote a shorter version of the same research for the general reader, Where Reincarnation and Biology Intersect (1997).

Reaction to his work was mixed. In an obituary for Stevenson in The New York Times, Margalit Fox wrote that Stevenson’s supporters saw him as a misunderstood genius but that most scientists had simply ignored his research and that his detractors regarded him as earnest but gullible. His life and work became the subject of three supportive books, Old Souls: The Scientific Search for Proof of Past Lives (1999) by Tom Shroder, a Washington Post journalist, Life Before Life (2005) by Jim B. Tucker, a psychiatrist and colleague at the University of Virginia, and Science, the Self, and Survival after Death (2012), by Emily Williams Kelly. Critics, particularly the philosophers C.T.K. Chari (1909-1993) and Paul Edwards (1923-2004), raised a number of issues, including claims that the children or parents interviewed by Stevenson had deceived him, that he had asked them leading questions, that he had often worked through translators who believed what the interviewees were saying, and that his conclusions were undermined by confirmation bias, where cases not supportive of his hypothesis were not presented as counting against it.

On This Day … 31 October

People (Births)

  • 1918 – Ian Stevenson, American psychiatrist and academic (d. 2007).

People (Deaths)

  • 1939 – Otto Rank, Austrian psychologist, author, and educator (b. 1884).

Ian Stevenson

Ian Pretyman Stevenson (31 October 1918 to 08 February 2007) was a Canadian-born American psychiatrist.

He worked for the University of Virginia School of Medicine for fifty years, as chair of the department of psychiatry from 1957 to 1967, Carlson Professor of Psychiatry from 1967 to 2001, and Research Professor of Psychiatry from 2002 until his death.

Otto Rank

Otto Rank (né Rosenfeld; 22 April 1884 to 31 October 1939) was an Austrian psychoanalyst, writer, and philosopher.

Born in Vienna, he was one of Sigmund Freud‘s closest colleagues for 20 years, a prolific writer on psychoanalytic themes, editor of the two leading analytic journals of the era, managing director of Freud’s publishing house, and a creative theorist and therapist.

In 1926, Rank left Vienna for Paris and, for the remainder of his life, led a successful career as a lecturer, writer, and therapist in France and the United States.