April 22: Otto Rank and Human Mythology

Otto Rank (Rosenfeld), one of Sigmund Freud’s closest collaborators, was born in Vienna on this date in 1884. Rank hailed from a poor family and worked in a machine shop while educating himself at night. He became the first paid secretary of the emerging Vienna Psychoanalytic Society in 1905, at the age of 21. He […]

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April 15: Max Wertheimer and Gestalt Psychology

Max Wertheimer, who founded the gestalt school of psychology with his students Kurt Koffka and Wolfgang Köhler, was born in Prague on this date in 1880. After obtaining his doctorate in philosophy and psychology from the University of Wurzburg (where he did research on the lie detector), he began to study how sensory perception influences […]

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March 13: Bruno Bettelheim

Bruno Bettelheim, a Viennese Freudian psychologist who survived nearly two years in Buchenwald and Dachau and went on to become a worldwide authority on autism and the emotional lives of children — although his theories were incorrect and venal towards mothers — died a suicide at age 86 on this date in 1990. (His suicide […]

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Reclaiming Kurt Lewin

A Father of Modern Social Psychology by Robert Kleiner and Gerry Kane From the Summer 2015 issue of Jewish Currents IF YOU GOOGLE “Kurt Zadek Lewin” (1890-1947), you will quickly learn that he is often referred to as the father of modern social psychology — and if you are in the habit of Googling people […]

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January 30: The First American Pop Psychologist

Joseph Jastrow, the first American to receive a doctorate in psychology, in 1883, and the first to bring psychology into popular parlance through articles, books, and lectures, was born in Warsaw on this date in 1863. A member of the psychology department at the University of Wisconsin, he built the first psychology laboratory that investigated […]

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May 20: Erving Goffman on the Presentation of Self

Canadian-born and educated sociologist Erving Goffman (1922-1982) published his influential book, The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life, on this date in 1959. The book proposes that people are always on stage, playing roles, giving performances, reading from scripts, wearing masks, and presenting themselves to audiences while also managing their identities on private, backstage sets — […]

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I Have No Faith. But I Have a Ticket.

by Lawrence Bush “Our rabbis taught: When Adam, on the day of his creation, saw the setting of the sun he said! ‘Alas, it is because I have sinned that the world around me is becoming dark; the universe will now become again void and without form — this then is the death to which […]

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The Urge for Fame: Does It Fade?

by Dusty Sklar “Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done     and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind;     nothing was gained under the sun.” —Ecclesiastes MY GOOD FRIEND, Ruth Lilian, still elegant, witty and beautiful at 86, cannot give up her desire to be famous. She […]

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February 12: Kurt Lewin and Social Psychology

Kurt Lewin, a German founder of social psychology and experimental psychology, and one of the first psychologists to write about group dynamics and organizational development, died at 56 on this date in 1947. Lewin worked with the psychologists of the Gestalt school, with the Marxist philosophers associated with the Frankfurt School, and as an academic […]

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