On This Day … 20 June

People (Births)

People (Deaths)

  • 1925 – Josef Breuer, Austrian physician and psychologist (b. 1842).

Johannes Heinrich Schultz

Johannes Heinrich Schultz (20 June 1884 to 19 September 1970) was a German psychiatrist and an independent psychotherapist. Schultz became world-famous for the development of a system of self-hypnosis called autogenic training.

Life

He studied medicine in Lausanne, Göttingen (where he met Karl Jaspers) and Breslau. He earned his doctorate from Göttingen in 1907. After receiving his medical license in 1908, he practiced at the polyclinic at the Medical University Clinic at Göttingen until 1911. Afterwards he worked at the Paul-Ehrlich Institute in Frankfurt, at the insane asylum at Chemnitz and finally at the Psychiatric University Clinic at Jena under Otto Binswanger, where he earned his habilitation in 1915.

During the First World War, he served as director of a sanitorium in Belgium. In 1919 he became a professor of Psychiatry and Neuropathology at Jena. In 1920 he became Chief Doctor and scientific leader at Dr. Heinrich Lahmann’s sanatorium Weisser Hirsch in Dresden. In 1924, he established himself as a psychiatrist in Berlin.

From 1925-26 he was a member of the founding committee for the first General Doctors’ Congress for Psychotherapy, board member of the General Medical Society for Psychotherapy (established in 1927). From 1928 he advised the organisation’s newsletter, and after 1930 he co-edited (with Arthur Kronfeld and Rudolf Allers) the journal, now named the Zentralblatt für Psychotherapie. In 1933 he became a board member of the renamed German Medical Society for Psychotherapy under Matthias Heinrich Göring and from 1936 under this vice-director a board member of the German Institute for Psychological Research and Psychotherapy (Deutsches Institut für psychologische Forschung und Psychotherapie) as well as director of the polyclinic.

Nazi Period

In 1933 he began research on his guidebook on sexual education, Geschlecht, Liebe, Ehe, in which he focused on homosexuality and explored the topics of sterilisation and euthanasia. In 1935 he published an essay titled Psychological consequences of sterilisation and castration among men, which supported compulsory sterilization of men in order to eliminate hereditary illnesses. Soon after he was appointed deputy director of the Göring Institute in Berlin, which was the headquarters of the Deutsches Institut für psychologische Forschung und Psychotherapie (German institute for psychological research and psychotherapy).

Through this institute, he had an active role in the extermination of mentally handicapped individuals in the framework of the Aktion T4 programme.

There he began to test many of his theories on homosexuality. Schultz strongly believed that homosexuality generally was not hereditary and that most homosexuals became so through perversion. He stated on numerous occasions that homosexuals displayed “scrubby and stunted forms of personality development”. Consequently, he also believed that homosexuality was curable through intense psychotherapy. During his time at the Göring Institute, 510 homosexuals were recorded to have received numerous psychotherapeutic treatments and 341 were deemed to be cured by the end of the treatments. Most of his subjects were convicted homosexuals brought in from concentration camps. After treating his patients, Schultz tested the treatments’ effectiveness by forcing them to have sex with prostitutes. In a case study he later released, in which he briefly discussed the process of determining whether a young SS soldier, who had been sentenced to death for homosexual acts, was ‘cured’, Schultz stated: “Those who were considered incurable were sent back to the concentration camps, but ‘cured’ homosexuals, such as the previously mentioned SS soldier, were pardoned and released into military service”. In this way Schultz actually saved numerous accused homosexuals from the hellish life of a concentration camp but he stated later that “successfully treated subjects were sent to the front, where they most probably were killed in action”.

After the war, the Göring Institute was disbanded but Schultz faced no repercussions for his more dubious research and methods during the past decade. In fact he released a case study on his work with homosexuals in 1952 titled Organstörungen und Perversionen im Liebesleben, in which he admitted to the inhumanity of some of his experiments but also still supported their results. In fact he continued to support his findings and even continued to advocate paragraph 175 for the rest of his life.

In 1956, he became editor of the journal Psychotherapie, and in 1959 founder of the German Society for Medical Hypnosis (Deutschen Gesellschaft für ärztliche Hypnose).

Josef Breuer

Josef Breuer (15 January 1842 to 20 June 1925) was a distinguished physician who made key discoveries in neurophysiology, and whose work in the 1880s with his patient Bertha Pappenheim, known as Anna O., developed the talking cure (cathartic method) and laid the foundation to psychoanalysis as developed by his protégé Sigmund Freud.

Neurophysiology

Breuer, working under Ewald Hering at the military medical school in Vienna, was the first to demonstrate the role of the vagus nerve in the reflex nature of respiration. This was a departure from previous physiological understanding, and changed the way scientists viewed the relationship of the lungs to the nervous system. The mechanism is now known as the Hering–Breuer reflex.

Independent of each other in 1873, Breuer and the physicist and mathematician Ernst Mach discovered how the sense of balance (i.e. the perception of the head’s imbalance) functions: that it is managed by information the brain receives from the movement of a fluid in the semicircular canals of the inner ear. That the sense of balance depends on the three semicircular canals was discovered in 1870 by the physiologist Friedrich Goltz, but Goltz did not discover how the balance-sensing apparatus functions.

On This Day … 13 June

People (Births)

  • 1809 – Heinrich Hoffmann, German psychiatrist and author (d. 1894).
  • 1894 – Leo Kanner, Ukrainian-American psychiatrist and physician (d. 1981).
  • 1931 – Irvin D. Yalom, American psychotherapist and academic.

Heinrich Hoffmann

Heinrich Hoffmann (13 June 1809 to 20 September 1894) was a German psychiatrist, who also wrote some short works including Der Struwwelpeter, an illustrated book portraying children misbehaving.

Hoffmann worked for a pauper’s clinic and had a private practice. He also taught anatomy at the Senckenberg Foundation. None of this paid very well, and when the Frankfurt lunatic asylum’s previous doctor (who was a friend of his) retired in 1851, he was eager to take the post even though he had no expertise in psychiatry. This changed quickly, as his later competent publications in the field show. Hoffmann portrays himself as a caring, humane psychiatrist, who strove to be the sunshine in the life of his miserable patients. His gregarious personality may well have been popular with many of them. His statistical compilations show that up to 40% of the people with acute cases of what would today be called schizophrenia were discharged after a few weeks or months and stayed in remission for years and perhaps permanently. Always a skeptic, Hoffmann voices doubts whether this was due to any therapy he may have given them. Much of his energy from 1851 onwards went into campaigning for a new, modern asylum building with gardens in the city’s green belt. He was successful and the new clinic was built at the site of today’s Frankfurt University’s Humanities campus (The original building was demolished in the 1920s).

Leo Kanner

Leo Kanner (13 June 1894 to 03 April 1981) was an Ukrainian American psychiatrist, physician, and social activist best known for his work related to autism. Before working at the Henry Phipps Psychiatric Clinic at the Johns Hopkins Hospital, Kanner practiced as a physician in Germany and in South Dakota. In 1943, Kanner published his landmark paper Autistic Disturbances of Affective Contact, describing 11 children who were highly intelligent but displayed “a powerful desire for aloneness” and “an obsessive insistence on persistent sameness.” He named their condition “early infantile autism,” which is now known as autism spectrum disorder. Kanner was in charge of developing the first child psychiatry clinic in the United States and later served as the Chief of Child Psychiatry at the Johns Hopkins Hospital. He is one of the co-founders of The Children’s Guild, a non-profit organisation serving children, families and child-serving organisations throughout Maryland and Washington, D.C., and dedicated to “Transforming how America Cares for and Educates its Children and Youth.” He is widely considered one of the most influential American psychiatrists of the 20th century.

Irvin D. Yalon

Irvin David Yalom (born 13 June 1931) is an American existential psychiatrist who is emeritus professor of psychiatry at Stanford University, as well as author of both fiction and nonfiction.

After graduating with a BA from George Washington University in 1952 and a Doctor of Medicine from Boston University School of Medicine in 1956 he went on to complete his internship at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York and his residency at the Phipps Clinic of Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore and completed his training in 1960. After two years of Army service at Tripler General Hospital in Honolulu, Yalom began his academic career at Stanford University. He was appointed to the faculty in 1963 and promoted over the following years, being granted tenure in 1968. Soon after this period he made some of his most lasting contributions by teaching about group psychotherapy and developing his model of existential psychotherapy.

His writing on existential psychology centres on what he refers to as the four “givens” of the human condition: isolation, meaninglessness, mortality and freedom, and discusses ways in which the human person can respond to these concerns either in a functional or dysfunctional fashion.

In 1970, Yalom published The Theory and Practice of Group Psychotherapy, speaking about the research literature around group psychotherapy and the social psychology of small group behavior. This work explores how individuals function in a group context, and how members of group therapy gain from his participation group.

In addition to his scholarly, non-fiction writing, Yalom has produced a number of novels and also experimented with writing techniques. In Every Day Gets a Little Closer Yalom invited a patient to co-write about the experience of therapy. The book has two distinct voices which are looking at the same experience in alternating sections. Yalom’s works have been used as collegiate textbooks and standard reading for psychology students. His new and unique view of the patient/client relationship has been added to curriculum in psychology programs at such schools as John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City.

Yalom has continued to maintain a part-time private practice and has authored a number of video documentaries on therapeutic techniques. Yalom is also featured in the 2003 documentary Flight from Death, a film that investigates the relationship of human violence to fear of death, as related to subconscious influences. The Irvin D. Yalom Institute of Psychotherapy, which he co-directs with Professor Ruthellen Josselson, works to advance Yalom’s approach to psychotherapy. This unique combination of integrating more philosophy into the psychotherapy can be considered as psychosophy.

He was married to author and historian Marilyn Yalom, who died in November, 2019. Their four children are: Eve, a gynaecologist, Reid, a photographer, Victor, a psychologist and entrepreneur and Ben, a theatre director.

On This Day … 06 June

People (Births)

  • 1900 – Manfred Sakel, Ukrainian-American psychiatrist and physician (d. 1957).

People (Deaths)

  • 1961 – Carl Gustav Jung, Swiss psychiatrist and psychotherapist (b. 1875).

Manfred Sakel

Manfred Joshua Sakel (06 June 1900 to 02 December 1957) was an Austrian-Jewish (later Austrian-American) neurophysiologist and psychiatrist, credited with developing insulin shock therapy in 1927.

Sakel was born in Nadvirna (Nadwórna), in the former Austria-Hungary Empire (now Ukraine), which was part of Poland between the world wars. Sakel studied Medicine at the University of Vienna from 1919 to 1925, specializing in neurology and neuropsychiatry. From 1927 until 1933 Sakel worked in hospitals in Berlin. In 1933 he became a researcher at the University of Vienna’s Neuropsychiatric Clinic. In 1936, after receiving an invitation from Frederick Parsons, the state commissioner of mental hygiene, he chose to emigrate from Austria to the United States of America. In the US, he became an attending physician and researcher at the Harlem Valley State Hospital.

Dr. Sakel was the developer of insulin shock therapy from 1927 while a young doctor in Vienna, starting to practice it in 1933. It would become widely used on individuals with schizophrenia and other mental patients. He noted that insulin-induced coma and convulsions, due to the low level of glucose attained in the blood (hypoglycaemic crisis), had a short-term appearance of changing the mental state of drug addicts and psychotics, sometimes dramatically so. He reported that up to 88% of his patients improved with insulin shock therapy, but most other people reported more mixed results and it was eventually shown that patient selection had been biased and that it didn’t really have any specific benefits and had many risks, adverse effects and fatalities. However, his method became widely applied for many years in mental institutions worldwide. In the USA and other countries it was gradually dropped after the introduction of the electroconvulsive therapy in the 1940s and the first neuroleptics in the 1950s.

Dr. Sakel died from a heart attack on 02 December 1957, in New York City, NY, USA.

Carl Jung

Carl Gustav Jung (born Karl Gustav Jung, 26 July 1875 to 06 June 1961), was a Swiss psychiatrist and psychoanalyst who founded analytical psychology. Jung’s work has been influential in the fields of psychiatry, anthropology, archaeology, literature, philosophy, psychology and religious studies. Jung worked as a research scientist at the famous Burghölzli hospital, under Eugen Bleuler. During this time, he came to the attention of Sigmund Freud, the founder of psychoanalysis. The two men conducted a lengthy correspondence and collaborated, for a while, on a joint vision of human psychology.

Freud saw the younger Jung as the heir he had been seeking to take forward his “new science” of psychoanalysis and to this end secured his appointment as President of his newly founded International Psychoanalytical Association. Jung’s research and personal vision, however, made it impossible for him to follow his older colleague’s doctrine and a schism became inevitable. This division was personally painful for Jung and resulted in the establishment of Jung’s analytical psychology as a comprehensive system separate from psychoanalysis.

Among the central concepts of analytical psychology is individuation – the lifelong psychological process of differentiation of the self out of each individual’s conscious and unconscious elements. Jung considered it to be the main task of human development. He created some of the best known psychological concepts, including synchronicity, archetypal phenomena, the collective unconscious, the psychological complex and extraversion and introversion.

Jung was also an artist, craftsman, builder and a prolific writer. Many of his works were not published until after his death and some are still awaiting publication.

On This Day … 02 June

People (Deaths)

  • 1875 – Józef Kremer, Polish psychologist, historian, and philosopher (b. 1806).
  • 1987 – Anthony de Mello, Indian-American priest and psychotherapist (b. 1931).

Jozef Kramer

Józef Kremer (22 February 1806 to 02 June 1875), was a Polish historian of art, a philosopher, an aesthetician and a psychologist.

He studied at Kraków, Berlin, Heidelberg and Paris.

He was a professor of philosophy and rector of the Jagiellonian University in Kraków: 1847, assistant professor; 1850, full professor; 1865, Dean of the Faculty of Philosophy; in academic year 1870-1871, rector.

He was a member of the Polish Academy of Learning from the day of its founding (1872). Professor of art history and aesthetics of Academy of Fine Arts in Kraków.

Kremer was the first proponent of Hegelianism in Poland. In 1843 he published the first volume of Listy z Krakowa (Letters from Kraków), a dissertation in aesthetics in the Hegelian spirit (vols. 1-3, Vilnius 1855-1856), which brought him recognition and renown. Also his Wykład systematyczny filozofii [A systematic course of philosophy] (vol. 1, Kraków 1849; vol. 2, Vilinius 1852), apart from the work of Karol Libelt, the first systematic textbook of philosophy in 19th-century Poland, was well received.

Kremer’s popularity and fame was, however, ensured primarily by his Podróż do Włoch (Journey to Italy; vols. 1-5, Vilnius 1859-64), which soon found place among the classics of Polish literature, and its excerpts were included in textbooks and anthologies of the day. Thanks to the efforts of Henryk Struve, in 1877-1880 a twelve-volume edition of Kremer’s collected works was published in Warsaw. No other Polish philosopher contemporary of Kremer’s could boast such a publication.

Kremer’s most important achievement in psychology was the systematic division of psychic phenomena into the conscious and the unconscious, and the treatment of anthropology as a science which probes the mutual relations between these two. By considering the act as the best source of information about a person, Kremer anticipated Wilhelm Dilthey’s position.

Anthony de Mello

Anthony de Mello, also known as Tony de Mello (04 September 1931 to 02 June 1987), was an Indian Jesuit priest and psychotherapist. A spiritual teacher, writer, and public speaker, de Mello wrote several books on spirituality and hosted numerous spiritual retreats and conferences. He continues to be known for his storytelling which drew from the various mystical traditions of both East and West and for introducing many people in the West to mindfulness-based practices he sometimes called “awareness prayer.”

In 1972, he founded the Institute of Pastoral Counselling, later renamed the Sadhana Institute of Pastoral Counselling, in Poona, India.

On This Day … 30 April

People (Births)

  • 1857 – Eugen Bleuler, Swiss psychiatrist and eugenicist (d. 1940).
  • 1878 – Władysław Witwicki, Polish psychologist, philosopher, translator, historian (of philosophy and art) and artist (d. 1948).
  • 1930 – Félix Guattari, French psychotherapist and philosopher (d. 1992).

Eugen Bleuler

Paul Eugen Bleuler (30 April 1857 to 15 July 1939) was a Swiss psychiatrist and eugenicist most notable for his contributions to the understanding of mental illness.

He coined many psychiatric terms, such as “schizophrenia”, “schizoid”, “autism”, depth psychology and what Sigmund Freud called “Bleuler’s happily chosen term ambivalence”.

Bleuler studied medicine in Zürich. He trained for his psychiatric residency at Waldau Hospital under Gottileb Burckhardt, a Swiss psychiatrist, from 1881-1884. He left his job in 1884 and spent one year on medical study trips with Jean-Martin Charcot, a French neurologist in Paris, Bernhard von Gudden, a German psychiatrist in Munich, and to London. After these trips, he returned to Zürich to briefly work as assistant to Auguste Forel while completing his psychiatric residency at the Burghölzli, a university hospital.

Bleuler became the director of a psychiatric clinic in Rheinau, a hospital located in an old monastery on an island in the Rhine. At the time, the clinic was known for being functionally backward and largely ineffective. Because of this, Bleuler set about improving conditions for the patients residing there.

In the year 1898, Bleuler returned to the Burghölzli and became a psychiatry professor at Burghölzli, the same university hospital he completed his residency. He was also appointed director of the mental asylum in Rheinau. He served as the director from the years 1898 to 1927. While working at this asylum, Bleuler cared for long-term psychiatric patients. He also implemented both psychoanalytic treatment and research, and was influenced by Sigmund Freud.

During his time as the director of psychiatry at Burghölzli, Bleuler made great contributions to the field of psychiatry and psychology that made him known today. Because of these findings, Bleuler has been described as one of the most influential Swiss psychiatrists.

Wladyslaw Witwicki

Władysław Witwicki (30 April 1878 to 21 December 1948)] was a Polish psychologist, philosopher, translator, historian (of philosophy and art) and artist. He is seen as one of the fathers of psychology in Poland.

Witwicki was also the creator of the theory of cratism, theory of feelings, and he dealt with the issues of the psychology of religion, and the creation of secular ethics. He was one of the initiators and co-founders of Polish Philosophical Society. He is one of the thinkers associated with the Lwów-Warsaw school.

Witwicki is the author of the first Polish textbooks on psychology. He also collaborated with other philosophers. For instance, he worked with Bronisław Bandrowski to develop a model of psychology based on Franz Brentano’s theory on phenomenology. It included an analysis of Edmund Husserl’s Theory of Content and the Phenomenon of Thinking.

In the comments to his own translation of the Gospels of Matthew and Mark – Dobra Nowina według Mateusza i Marka (The Good News according to Matthew and Mark) – Witwicki challenges the mental health of Jesus. He attributed to Jesus subjectivism, increased sense of his own power and superiority over others, egocentrism and the tendency to subjugate other people, as well as difficulties communicating with the outside world and multiple personality disorder, which made him a schizothymic or even schizophrenic type (according to the Ernst Kretschmer’s typology).

Felix Guattari

Pierre-Félix Guattari (30 April 1930 to 29 August 1992) was a French psychotherapist, philosopher, semiologist, activist and screenwriter.

He founded both schizoanalysis and ecosophy, and is best known for his intellectual collaborations with Gilles Deleuze, most notably Anti-Oedipus (1972) and A Thousand Plateaus (1980), the two volumes of Capitalism and Schizophrenia.

On This Day … 20 April

People (Births)

  • 1745 – Philippe Pinel, French physician and psychiatrist (d. 1826).
  • 1915 – Joseph Wolpe, South African psychotherapist and physician (d. 1997).
  • 1920 – Frances Ames, South African neurologist, psychiatrist, and human rights activist (d. 2002).

Philippe Pinel

Philippe Pinel (20 April 1745 to 25 October 1826) was a French physician who was instrumental in the development of a more humane psychological approach to the custody and care of psychiatric patients, referred to today as moral therapy. He also made notable contributions to the classification of mental disorders and has been described by some as “the father of modern psychiatry”.

An 1809 description of a case that Pinel recorded in the second edition of his textbook on insanity is regarded by some as the earliest evidence for the existence of the form of mental disorder later known as dementia praecox or schizophrenia, although Emil Kraepelin is generally accredited with its first conceptualisation.

Joseph Wolpe

Joseph Wolpe (20 April 1915 to 04 December 1997 in Los Angeles) was a South African psychiatrist and one of the most influential figures in behaviour therapy.

Wolpe grew up in South Africa, attending Parktown Boys’ High School and obtaining his MD from the University of the Witwatersrand.

In 1956 Wolpe was awarded a Ford Fellowship and spent a year at Stanford University in the Center for Behavioral Sciences, subsequently returning to South Africa but permanently moving to the United States in 1960 when he accepted a position at the University of Virginia.

In 1965 Wolpe accepted a position at Temple University.

One of the most influential experiences in Wolpe’s life was when he enlisted in the South African army as a medical officer. Wolpe was entrusted to treat soldiers who were diagnosed with what was then called “war neurosis” but today is known as post traumatic stress disorder. The mainstream treatment of the time for soldiers was based on psychoanalytic theory, and involved exploring the trauma while taking a hypnotic agent – so-called narcotherapy. It was believed that having the soldiers talk about their repressed experiences openly would effectively cure their neurosis. However, this was not the case. It was this lack of successful treatment outcomes that forced Wolpe, once a dedicated follower of Freud, to question psychoanalytic therapy and search for more effective treatment options. Wolpe is most well known for his reciprocal inhibition techniques, particularly systematic desensitisation, which revolutionised behavioural therapy.

A Review of General Psychology survey, published in 2002, ranked Wolpe as the 53rd most cited psychologist of the 20th century, an impressive accomplishment accentuated by the fact that Wolpe was a psychiatrist.

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 legalisation 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.

On This Day … 09 April

People (Births)

  • 1930 – Nathaniel Branden, Canadian-American psychotherapist and author (d. 2014).

Nathaniel Branden

Nathaniel Branden (born Nathan Blumenthal; 09 April 1930 to 03 December 2014) was a Canadian-American psychotherapist and writer known for his work in the psychology of self-esteem. A former associate and romantic partner of Ayn Rand, Branden also played a prominent role in the 1960s in promoting Rand’s philosophy, Objectivism. Rand and Branden split acrimoniously in 1968, after which Branden focused on developing his own psychological theories and modes of therapy.

Early Life and Education

Nathaniel Branden was born Nathan Blumenthal in Brampton, Ontario, and grew up alongside three sisters, two older and one younger. A gifted student, he became impatient with his studies during his first year of high school and skipped school often in favour of the library. After getting failing grades as a result, he convinced his mother to send him to a special accelerated high school for adults, and subsequently did well in that environment.

After graduating from high school, Branden went on to earn his BA in psychology from the University of California Los Angeles, an MA from New York University, and in 1973, a Ph.D. in psychology from the California Graduate Institute (CGI), then an unaccredited, state-approved school whose graduates may be licensed by the state to practice psychology (Graduates of unaccredited state-approved schools such as CGI are limited to associate membership in the American Psychological Association).

Objectivist Movement

In 1950, after he had read The Fountainhead and exchanged letters and phone calls with Ayn Rand, Branden and his then-girlfriend Barbara Weidman visited Rand and her husband Frank O’Connor at their Los Angeles home. The four became close friends, with Branden and Rand in particular sharing a vivid interest in philosophical exploration and development. After the publication of Rand’s novel Atlas Shrugged, Branden sensed an interest on the part of Rand’s readers in further philosophic education. In 1958 he created the Nathaniel Branden Lectures, later renamed the Nathaniel Branden Institute (NBI). The organization disseminated Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism by offering live and taped lecture courses by a variety of Objectivist intellectuals, including Rand, Branden, and Alan Greenspan, whom Branden had brought into Rand’s fold. During this time, Branden also contributed articles to Rand’s newsletters on subjects ranging from economics to politics to psychology. Branden’s work at NBI included translating the principles expressed by Rand in her fiction and non-fiction writing into a systematised construct that became known as Objectivism.

NBI expanded considerably over the course of its existence, ultimately offering courses in 80 cities and establishing an office in the Empire State Building. In 1968, Rand publicly broke with Branden and published an article denouncing him and accusing him of a variety of offenses, such as philosophic irrationality and unresolved psychological problems. In response, Branden sent out a letter to the NBI mailing list denying Rand’s accusations and suggesting that the actual cause of Rand’s denunciation of him was his unwillingness to engage in a romantic relationship with her (Branden later explained in his memoir that he and Rand had in fact been romantically intimate for a period of time in the late 1950s; see personal life).

After the break, Branden went on to publish The Psychology of Self-Esteem (many chapters of which he had published originally in Rand’s newsletter), and then to develop his theory and mode of therapy more independently of Rand’s influence. Though he remained supportive of the broad essentials of Rand’s philosophy, he eventually offered criticisms of aspects of her work, naming as problems a tendency to encourage emotional repression and moralizing, a failure to understand psychology beyond its cognitive aspects, and a failure to appreciate adequately the importance of kindness in human relationships. He also apologised in an interview to “every student of Objectivism” for “perpetuating the Ayn Rand mystique” and for “contributing to that dreadful atmosphere of intellectual repressiveness that pervades the Objectivist movement.”

Psychology of Self-Esteem

Branden argued that self-esteem is a human psychological need and that to the extent this need remains unmet, pathology (defensiveness, anxiety, depression, difficulty in relationships, etc.) tends to result. He defined self-esteem formally as “the disposition to experience oneself as competent to cope with the basic challenges of life and as worthy of happiness”, and proposed that, while others (parents, teachers, friends) can nurture and support self-esteem in an individual, self-esteem also relies upon various internally generated practices. These consisted, in Branden’s framework, of six “pillars” of self-esteem:

  • Living consciously: the practice of being aware of what one is doing while one is doing it, i.e. the practice of mindfulness.
  • Self-acceptance: the practice of owning truths regarding one’s thoughts, emotions, and behaviours; of being kind toward oneself with respect to them; and of being “for” oneself in a basic sense.
  • Self-responsibility: the practice of owning one’s authorship of one’s actions and of owning one’s capacity to be the cause of the effects one desires.
  • Self-assertiveness: the practice of treating one’s needs and interests with respect and of expressing them in appropriate ways.
  • Living purposefully: the practice of formulating goals and of formulating and implementing action plans to achieve them.
  • Personal integrity: the practice of maintaining alignment between one’s behaviours and convictions.

In his book Taking Responsibility Branden defended voluntarism as a moral concept and libertarianism as a political one; likewise, individualism and personal autonomy are seen as essential to human freedom.

Branden distinguished his approach to self-esteem from that of many others by his inclusion of both confidence and worth in his definition of self-esteem, and by his emphasis on the importance of internally generated practices for the improvement and maintenance of self-esteem. For this reason, he at times expressed lack of enthusiasm about the teachings of the “self-esteem movement”, which he is sometimes credited with having spawned (he was sometimes referred to as “the father of the self-esteem movement”).

Mode of Therapy

While Branden began his practice of therapy as, primarily, a cognitivist, starting in the 1970s he rapidly shifted toward a decidedly technically eclectic stance, utilising techniques from gestalt therapy, psychodrama, neo-Reichian breathwork, Ericksonian hypnosis, as well as original techniques such as his sentence completion method, which he favoured. In a piece from 1973, he characterised his mode of therapy as consisting of four aspects: education, emotional unblocking, stimulation of insight, and encouragement of behaviour change. In contrast to the exclusively experiential or exclusively cognitive (insight-oriented) methods of the day, Branden saw his mode of therapy as distinguished in part by “the integration of the emotional and the cognitive, the practice of constantly moving back and forth between the experiential and the conceptual.”

Sentence completion, a method that figured prominently in Branden’s mode of therapy, is an example of this dual focus. In its most common variation, it consists of a therapist giving a client an incomplete sentence – a sentence stem – and having the client repeat the sentence stem over and over, each time adding a new ending, going quickly, without thinking or censoring, and inventing endings when stuck. In this way, a therapist can facilitate the generation of awareness and insight (for example, with a stem such as, “If my fear could speak, it might say—”), and shifts in cognitive-motivational structure (for example, with a stem such as, “If I were to be kinder to myself when I’m afraid—”). By improvising a succession of such stems, many based on endings generated by a previous stem, a therapist can, according to Branden, lead a client on a sometimes dramatically emotional journey of self exploration and self-discovery.

Eventually, Branden integrated techniques from the field of energy psychology, such as Thought Field Therapy and Seemorg Matrix work, into his practice, viewing psychological trauma (which such techniques target) as a significant barrier to growth and development. He has described human problems as occurring both “above the line” – that is, in the realm of cognition and volitional behaviour – and “below the line” – that is, in the realm of unconscious trauma stored in the body.

On This Day … 24 March

People (Births)

  • 1897 – Wilhelm Reich, Austrian-American psychotherapist and academic (d. 1957).

Wilhelm Reich

Wilhelm Reich (24 March 1897 to 03 November 1957) was an Austrian doctor of medicine and psychoanalyst, a member of the second generation of analysts after Sigmund Freud. The author of several influential books, most notably Character Analysis (1933), The Mass Psychology of Fascism (1933), and The Sexual Revolution (1936), Reich became known as one of the most radical figures in the history of psychiatry.

Reich’s work on character contributed to the development of Anna Freud’s The Ego and the Mechanisms of Defence (1936), and his idea of muscular armour – the expression of the personality in the way the body moves – shaped innovations such as body psychotherapy, Gestalt therapy, bioenergetic analysis and primal therapy. His writing influenced generations of intellectuals; he coined the phrase “the sexual revolution” and according to one historian acted as its midwife. During the 1968 student uprisings in Paris and Berlin, students scrawled his name on walls and threw copies of The Mass Psychology of Fascism at police.

After graduating in medicine from the University of Vienna in 1922, Reich became deputy director of Freud’s outpatient clinic, the Vienna Ambulatorium. Described by Elizabeth Danto as a large man with a cantankerous style who managed to look scruffy and elegant at the same time, he tried to reconcile psychoanalysis with Marxism, arguing that neurosis is rooted in sexual and socio-economic conditions, and in particular in a lack of what he called “orgastic potency”. He visited patients in their homes to see how they lived, and took to the streets in a mobile clinic, promoting adolescent sexuality and the availability of contraceptives, abortion and divorce, a provocative message in Catholic Austria. He said he wanted to “attack the neurosis by its prevention rather than treatment”.

From the 1930s he became an increasingly controversial figure, and from 1932 until his death in 1957 all his work was self-published. His message of sexual liberation disturbed the psychoanalytic community and his political associates, and his vegetotherapy, in which he massaged his disrobed patients to dissolve their “muscular armour”, violated the key taboos of psychoanalysis. He moved to New York in 1939, in part to escape the Nazis, and shortly after arriving coined the term “orgone”—from “orgasm” and “organism”—for a biological energy he said he had discovered, which he said others called God. In 1940 he started building orgone accumulators, devices that his patients sat inside to harness the reputed health benefits, leading to newspaper stories about sex boxes that cured cancer.

Following two critical articles about him in The New Republic and Harper’s in 1947, the US Food and Drug Administration obtained an injunction against the interstate shipment of orgone accumulators and associated literature, believing they were dealing with a “fraud of the first magnitude”. Charged with contempt in 1956 for having violated the injunction, Reich was sentenced to two years imprisonment, and that summer over six tons of his publications were burned by order of the court. He died in prison of heart failure just over a year later, days before he was due to apply for parole.

On This Day … 26 February

People (Births)

People (Deaths)

  • 1930 – Mary Whiton Calkins, American philosopher and psychologist (b. 1863).
  • 1969 – Karl Jaspers, German-Swiss psychiatrist and philosopher (b. 1883).

Emile Coue

Émile Coué de la Châtaigneraie (26 February 1857 to 02 July 1926) was a French psychologist and pharmacist who introduced a popular method of psychotherapy and self-improvement based on optimistic autosuggestion.

Considered by Charles Baudouin to represent a second Nancy School, Coué treated many patients in groups and free of charge.

Sandie Shaw

Sandie Shaw, MBE (born Sandra Ann Goodrich; 26 February 1947) is an English singer. One of the most successful British female singers of the 1960s, she had three UK number one singles with “(There’s) Always Something There to Remind Me” (1964), “Long Live Love” (1965) and “Puppet on a String” (1967). With “Puppet on a String”, she became the first British entry to win the Eurovision Song Contest. She returned to the UK top 40, for the first time in 15 years, with her 1984 cover of the Smiths song “Hand in Glove”. Shaw announced her retirement from the music industry in 2013.

Mary Whiton Calkins

Mary Whiton Calkins (30 March 1863 to 26 February 1930) was an American philosopher and psychologist. As a psychologist, she taught at Wellesley College for many years and conducted research on dreams and memory. Calkins was the first woman to become president of the American Psychological Association and the American Philosophical Association.

Karl Jaspers

Karl Theodor Jaspers 23 February 1883 to 26 February 1969) was a German-Swiss psychiatrist and philosopher who had a strong influence on modern theology, psychiatry, and philosophy. After being trained in and practicing psychiatry, Jaspers turned to philosophical inquiry and attempted to discover an innovative philosophical system. He was often viewed as a major exponent of existentialism in Germany, though he did not accept the label.

Book: Doing Psychotherapy

Book Title:

Doing Psychotherapy: A Trauma and Attachment-Informed Approach.

Author(s): Robin Shapiro.

Year: 2020.

Edition: First (1ed).

Publisher: W.W. Norton & Company.

Type(s): Paperback, Audiobook, and Kindle.

Synopsis:

Most books about doing psychotherapy are tied to particular psychotherapeutic practices. Here, seasoned clinical author Robin Shapiro teaches readers the ins and outs of a trauma-and attachment-informed approach that is not tied to any one model or method.

This book teaches assessment, treatment plans, enhancing the therapeutic relationship and ethics and boundary issues, all within a general framework of attachment theory and trauma. Practical chapters talk about working with attachment problems, grief, depression, cultural differences, affect tolerance, anxiety, addiction, trauma, skill- building, suicidal ideation, psychosis, and the beginning and end of therapy. Filled with examples, suggestions for dialogue and questions for a variety of therapeutic situation, Shapiro’s conversational tone makes the book very relatable.

Early-career therapists will refer to it for years to come and veteran practitioners looking for a refresher (or introduction) to the latest in trauma and attachment work will find it especially useful.