On This Day … 24 January [2023]

People (Births)

  • 1850 – Hermann Ebbinghaus, German psychologist (d. 1909).
  • 1853 – Sigbert Josef Maria Ganser, German psychiatrist (d. 1931).

Hermann Ebbinghaus

Hermann Ebbinghaus (24 January 1850 to 26 February 1909) was a German psychologist who pioneered the experimental study of memory, and is known for his discovery of the forgetting curve and the spacing effect. He was also the first person to describe the learning curve. He was the father of the neo-Kantian philosopher Julius Ebbinghaus.

Sigbert Josef Maria Ganser

Sigbert Josef Maria Ganser (24 January 1853 to 4 January 1931) was a German psychiatrist born in Rhaunen.

He earned his medical doctorate in 1876 from the University of Munich. Afterwards he worked briefly at a psychiatric clinic in Würzburg, and later as an assistant to neuroanatomist Bernhard von Gudden (1824-1886) in Munich. In 1886, he became head of the psychiatric department at Dresden General Hospital. Among his students was neurologist Hans Queckenstedt (1876-1918).

Sigbert Ganser is remembered for a hysterical disorder that he first described in 1898. He identified the disorder in three prisoners while working at a prison in Halle. The features included approximate or nonsensical answers to simple questions, perceptual abnormalities, and clouding of consciousness. Ganser believed that these symptoms were an associative reaction caused by an unconscious attempt by the patient to escape from an intolerable mental situation. The disorder was to become known as Ganser syndrome.

On This Day … 20 January [2023]

People (Births)

People (Deaths)

  • 1944 – James McKeen Cattell, American psychologist and academic (b. 1860).
  • 2012 – Alejandro Rodriguez, Venezuelan-American paediatrician and psychiatrist (b. 1918).

Nikos Sideris

Nikos Sideris (Greek: Νίκος Σιδέρης; born 20 January 1952), is a Greek psychiatrist, translator, poet and writer.

Sideris studied medicine at the University of Athens. He then settled in Paris for his postgraduate studies (specialising in Psychiatry, History and Neuropsychology-Neurolinguistics). He is a PhD of Panteion University Psychology Department and teaching psychoanalyst, member of the Strasbourg School of Psychoanalysis (E.P.S.) and the European Federation of Psychoanalysis and Psychoanalytic School of Strasburg (FEDEPSY). He works as a psychiatrist, psychoanalyst and family therapist in Athens.

His book “Children do not need psychologists. They need parents!” (Τα παιδιά δεν θέλουν ψυχολόγο. Γονείς θέλουν) became a non-fiction best-seller in Greece.

James McKeen Cattell

James McKeen Cattell (25 May 1860 to 20 January 1944), an American psychologist, was the first professor of psychology in the United States, teaching at the University of Pennsylvania, and a long-time editor and publisher of scientific journals and publications, including Science. He also served on the board of trustees for Science Service, now known as Society for Science & the Public (SSP) from 1921 to 1944.

At the beginning of Cattell’s career, many scientists regarded psychology simply as a minor field of study, or as a pseudoscience which is a collection of beliefs or practices regarded as a scientific method when it is not such as phrenology. Considerably more than his peers, Cattell helped establish psychology as a legitimate science, worthy of study at the highest levels of the academy. At the time of his death, The New York Times credited him as “the dean of American science.” Yet Cattell may be best remembered for his uncompromising opposition to American involvement in World War I. His public opposition to the draft led to his dismissal from his position at Columbia University, a move that later led many American universities to establish tenure as a means of protecting unpopular beliefs.

Alejandro Rodriguez

Alejandro Rodriguez (February 1918 to 20 January 2012) was a Venezuelan-American paediatrician and psychiatrist, known for his pioneering work in child psychiatry. He was the director of the division of child psychiatry at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and conducted pivotal studies on autism and other developmental disorders in children.

On This Day … 14 January [2023]

People (Deaths)

  • 1949 – Harry Stack Sullivan, American psychiatrist and psychoanalyst (b. 1892).

Harry Stack Sullivan

Herbert “Harry” Stack Sullivan (21 February 1892 to 14 January 1949) was an American Neo-Freudian psychiatrist and psychoanalyst who held that “personality can never be isolated from the complex interpersonal relationships in which [a] person lives” and that “[t]he field of psychiatry is the field of interpersonal relations under any and all circumstances in which [such] relations exist”. Having studied therapists Sigmund Freud, Adolf Meyer, and William Alanson White, he devoted years of clinical and research work to helping people with psychotic illness.

On This Day … 29 December [2022]

People (Deaths)

  • 1939 – Madeleine Pelletier, French psychiatrist, feminist and political activist (b. 1874).

Madeleine Pelletier

Madeleine Pelletier (18 May 1874 to 29 December 1939)[1] was a French psychiatrist, first-wave feminist, and political activist. Born in Paris, Pelletier frequented socialist and anarchist groups in her adolescence. She became a doctor in her twenties, overcoming a large educational gap, and was France’s first woman to receive a doctorate in psychiatry. Pelletier joined freemasonry, the French Section of the Workers’ International, and came to lead a feminist association. She set out to join the October Revolution but returned disillusioned. In France, she continued to advocate for feminist and communist causes, and wrote numerous articles, essays, and literary works, even following a stroke in 1937 which made her hemiplegic. Pelletier was charged with having performed an abortion in 1939 despite her condition precluding her ability to perform this act. She was placed in a mental asylum where her health deteriorated and she died of a second stroke later that year.

On This Day … 22 December [2022]

People (Deaths)

  • 1902 – Richard von Krafft-Ebing, German-Austrian psychiatrist and author (b. 1840).

Richard von Krafft-Ebing

Richard Freiherr von Krafft-Ebing (full name Richard Fridolin Joseph Freiherr Krafft von Festenberg auf Frohnberg, genannt von Ebing; 14 August 1840 to22 December 1902) was a German psychiatrist and author of the foundational work Psychopathia Sexualis (1886).

On This Day … 15 December [2022]

Events

People (Births)

  • 1911 – Nicholas P. Dallis, American psychiatrist and illustrator (d. 1991).

People (Deaths)

  • 2010 – Eugene Victor Wolfenstein, American psychoanalyst and theorist (b. 1940).

Nicholas P. Dallis

Nicholas Peter Dallis (15 December 1911 to 06 July 1991), was an American psychiatrist turned comic strip writer, creator of the soap opera-style strips Rex Morgan, M.D., Judge Parker and Apartment 3-G. Separating his comics career from his medical practice, he wrote under pseudonyms, Dal Curtis for Rex Morgan, M.D. and Paul Nichols for Judge Parker.

Born in New York City, Nick Dallis grew up on Long Island. He graduated from Washington & Jefferson College in 1933 and from Temple University’s medical school in 1938 and married a nurse, Sarah Luddy. He decided to specialise in psychiatry, and after World War II, started a practice in Toledo, Ohio. Allen Saunders was chair at the time of the local mental hygiene centre that invited him there, and in his autobiography, he recalled that Dallis approached him, as a well-known comics writer (Steve Roper and Mike Nomad, Mary Worth), about “his desire to write a comic strip, one tracing the history of medicine. I told him that, commendable as his idea was, such a feature would not succeed. Readers want entertainment, not enlightenment. But a story about a handsome young doctor’s involvement with his patients might be a winner.”

Eugene Victor Wolfenstein

Eugene Victor Wolfenstein (09 July 1940 to 15 December 2010) was an American social theorist, practicing psychoanalyst, and a professor of political science at University of California, Los Angeles.

On This Day … 13 December [2022]

People (Deaths)

  • 1955 – Antonio Egas Moniz, Portuguese psychiatrist and neurosurgeon, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1874).

Egas Moniz

António Caetano de Abreu Freire Egas Moniz GCSE GCIB (29 November 1874 to 13 December 1955), known as Egas Moniz, was a Portuguese neurologist and the developer of cerebral angiography. He is regarded as one of the founders of modern psychosurgery, having developed the surgical procedure leucotomy – ​better known today as lobotomy – ​for which he became the first Portuguese national to receive a Nobel Prize in 1949 (shared with Walter Rudolf Hess).

He held academic positions, wrote many medical articles and also served in several legislative and diplomatic posts in the Portuguese government. In 1911, he became professor of neurology in Lisbon until his retirement in 1944.

Who was Trigant Burrow?

Introduction

Nicholas Trigant Burrow (07 September 1875 to 24 May 1950) was an American psychoanalyst, psychiatrist, psychologist, and, alongside Joseph H. Pratt and Paul Schilder, founder of group analysis in the United States.

He was the inventor of the concept of neurodynamics.

Life

Trigant Burrow was the youngest of four children in a well-off family of French origin. His father was an educated Protestant freethinker, his mother, however, was a practicing Catholic. He initially studied Literature at the Fordham University, Medicine at the University of Virginia, receiving his M.D. in 1900, and eventually Psychology at Johns Hopkins University (Ph.D., 1909). While working at the New York State Psychiatric Institute, he had the opportunity to attend a theatre performance, during which he was introduced to two European doctors who were on a lecture tour in the United States: Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung. The same year Burrow travelled with his family to Zurich in order to undergo a year-long Freudian analysis by Jung., He would later help to popularise Freud and Jung’s ideas on images in particular. Upon his return to the United States he practiced as a psychoanalyst in Baltimore until 1926. The American Psychoanalytic Association was founded in 1911, and he acted as the president in 1924 and 1925, though he was later expelled from it in 1932.

In 1926 Burrow founded the Lifwynn Foundation for Laboratory Research in Analytic and Social Psychiatry and published his first major work, The Social Basis of Consciousness. Until his death Burrow acted as the research director for the foundation and devoted particular attention to the physiological substructures of harmonious and rivalling participants within groups and societies, but also between states. His methods for measuring the electrical activity of the brain in connection with specific eye movements has led some to call him the father of trauma therapy [Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR)].

Founder of Group Analysis

In 1921, Burrow was challenged by one of his analysands, Clarence Shields, with regard to the inherently authoritarian role of the psychoanalyst. The student criticised the perceivable difference in authority during the analysis and demanded his teacher be more forthright. It came as a shock to Burrow when he realized, “that, in individual application, analytical attitude and authoritarian attitude can not be separated.” Experimenting with reversing the roles of analyser and patient, as well as with mutual analysis, Burrow and Shield became convinced that both displayed blind spots, adherence to social conventions and considerable utilisation of defence mechanisms. In Trigant Burrow’s eyes acknowledging this distortion of the analytical endeavour is indispensable to restoring relationships to normality. To Burrow and Shields, clarifying and ultimately diminishing the neurotic dislocation of emotions and cognition seemed possible only in a group setting. Both invited previous patients, relatives, and colleagues, including the Swiss Psychiatrist, Hans Syz, to sit in on some group sessions. Trigant Burrow coined the term group therapy and wrote three fundamental texts which were released between 1924 and 1927.

While Burrow considered his work a legitimate extension of Freudian thinking, Freud himself did not accept it as such. Burrow’s innovations led to a breach with orthodox psychoanalysis, Otto Fenichel for example criticising as repressive/inspirational “the work of Burrow who, by ‘phyloanalysis,’ tries to bring his patients to a reconsideration of their natural ways of functioning”. In retrospect however, he can be seen as pioneering investigations into such phenomena as countertransference, and intersubjective psychoanalysis.

Psychoanalysis as a Social Science

Under the impression that psychoanalysis should be further developed with more emphasis on the group, Burrow devised the concept of psychoanalysis as a social science. His criticism of the modern cult of individuality, and of the civilised preference for social over biological needs, led him to stress the communal elements in man’s thinking and consciousness.

Important Publications

The Social Basis of Consciousness, London 1927.
The Structure of Insanity, London, 1932.
The Biology of Human Conflict, New York 1937.
The Neurosis of Man, London 1949.
Science and Man’s Behavior, New York 1953.
Preconscious Foundations of Human Experiences, New York, London 1964.
Das Fundament der Gruppenanalyse oder die Analyse der Reaktionen von normalen und neurotischen Menschen, Lucifer-Amor: 21. 104-113.
Paolo Migone, Le origini della gruppoanalisi: una nota su Trigant Burrow. Rivista Sperimentale di Freniatria, 1995, CXIX, 3: 512-217.
Edi Gatti Pertegato & Giorgio Orghe Pertegato (editors), From Psychoanalysis to Group Analysis. The Pioneering Work of Trigant Burrow. Forewords by Malcolm Pines, Alfreda Sill Galt and Lloyd Gilden. London: Karnac, 2013 (expanded edition from the Italian book: Dalla psicoanalisi alla fondazione della gruppoanalisi. Patologia della normalità, conflitto individuale e sociale. Vimodrone [Milan]: IPOC, 2010, Second edition [First edition: 2009]).

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On This Day … 24 November [2022]

People (Births)

  • 1932 – Claudio Naranjo, Chilean psychiatrist (d. 2019).
  • 1954 – Margaret Wetherell, English psychologist and academic.

Claudio Naranjo

Claudio Benjamín Naranjo Cohen (24 November 1932 to 12 July 2019) was a Chilean-born psychiatrist of Arabic/Moorish, Spanish and Jewish descent who is considered a pioneer in integrating psychotherapy and the spiritual traditions. He was one of the three successors named by Fritz Perls (founder of Gestalt Therapy), a principal developer of Enneagram of Personality theories and a founder of the Seekers After Truth Institute. He was also an elder statesman of the US and global human potential movement and the spiritual renaissance of the late 20th century. He was the author of various books.

Margaret Wetherell

Margaret Wetherell (born 24 November 1954), is a prominent academic in the area of discourse analysis.

Wetherell worked for 23 years at the Open University, UK from which she retired as Emeritus Professor in 2011. She then took up a part-time post of Professor in Psychology at the University of Auckland, New Zealand.

On This Day … 11 November [2022]

People (Deaths)

  • 2002 – Frances Ames, South African neurologist, psychiatrist, and human rights activist (b. 1920).

Frances Ames

Frances Rix Ames (20 April 1920 to 11 November 2002) was a South African neurologist, psychiatrist, and human rights activist, best known for leading the medical ethics inquiry into the death of anti-apartheid activist Steve Biko, who died from medical neglect after being tortured in police custody. When the South African Medical and Dental Council (SAMDC) declined to discipline the chief district surgeon and his assistant who treated Biko, Ames and a group of five academics and physicians raised funds and fought an eight-year legal battle against the medical establishment. Ames risked her personal safety and academic career in her pursuit of justice, taking the dispute to the South African Supreme Court, where she eventually won the case in 1985.

Born in Pretoria and raised in poverty in Cape Town, Ames became the first woman to receive a Doctor of Medicine degree from the University of Cape Town in 1964. Ames studied the effects of cannabis on the brain and published several articles on the subject. Seeing the therapeutic benefits of cannabis on patients in her own hospital, she became an early proponent of legalization for medicinal use. She headed the neurology department at Groote Schuur Hospital before retiring in 1985, but continued to lecture at Valkenberg and Alexandra Hospital. After apartheid was dismantled in 1994, Ames testified at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission about her work on the “Biko doctors” medical ethics inquiry. In 1999, Nelson Mandela awarded Ames the Star of South Africa, the country’s highest civilian award, in recognition of her work on behalf of human rights.