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1. Sigmund Freud
Born: May 6, 1856 in Freiberg in Mähren, Moravia, Austrian Empire
Died: Sep 23, 1939 (at age 83) in London, England
Famous For: Psychoanalysis
Awards: Goethe Prize (1930), Foreign Member of the Royal Society (London)
Sigmund Freud was very famous Austrian neurologist who later became known as founding father of the psychoanalysis. He is one amongst the most famous figures and controversial thinkers of the 20th century.
Freud was born on May 6, 1856, in an Austrian town called Freiberg (now Czech Republic). At an early age of 4, his family moved to Vienna, which is the town where he lived and worked for most of his life. At age 17, he joined University of Vienna. At first he wanted to study law, but he later changed his mind and joined the medical faculty.
Here his studies included philosophy. In 1881, Freud received his medical degree. He then carried out some research on cerebral palsy, aphasia, and microscopic neuroanatomy. In 1882, Sigmund Freud married Martha Bernays. The couple had six children. In 1885, he became a lecturer and later a professor in 1902.
Early in his career, Sigmund was influenced by the work of his good friend, Josef Breur. Josef had previously discovered that when he encouraged a hysterical patient to talk about the earliest occurrences of the symptoms, the symptoms at times slowly abated.
With the help of Josef, Sigmund posited that neuroses had their origins in very traumatic experiences that took place in the patient’s past. Sigmund believed that the original occurrences had been long forgotten and hidden from consciousness.
Freud’s treatment was to empower his patients to remember the experience and then bring it to consciousness. In doing this, the patient is able to confront the experience both emotionally and intellectually. Sigmund believed a person could then discharge it and heal oneself the neurotic symptoms. Breuer and Freud both published their theories and findings in Studies in Hysteria in 1895.
After working together for while, Josef ended his relationship with Freud. Josef felt that Freud was placing too much emphasis on the sexual origins of patient’s neuroses and was not willing to consider any other opinion. Freud continued to refine his own argument and in 1900, he published The Interpretation of Dreams.
In 1901, he published Psychopathology of Everyday Life and later, in 1905, he published Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality. In 1909, Freud was invited to give lectures in the U.S. After his visits to the U.S. and his 1916 publication, Five Lectures on Psycho-Analysis, his fame rose very fast.
Contributions to Psychology
Freud’s major contributions to psychology were very influential. Today, his ideas have become interwoven into the fabric of our culture with terms like ‘repression,’ ‘Freudian slip,’ and ‘denial’ being used in everyday language. His theories covered topics like cocaine, dreams, seduction theory, life and death drives, religion, psycho-sexual development, the unconscious, femininity and female sexuality, the id, ego and super ego.
Later Life and Death
In February of 1923, Sigmund detected leukoplakia, a growth associated with heavy smoking. At first, he kept this as a secret. But in April of that year, he told his friend about it. This growth was later found to be cancerous. By mid-September of 1939, Freud had developed cancer of the jaw. This cancer was very painful. On September 23, 1939, Sigmund died. His body was cremated three days after his death.
2. Carl Jung
Born: July 26, 1875 in Kesswil, Thurgau, Switzerland
Died: June 6, 1961 (at age 85) in Küsnacht, Zurich, Switzerland
Famous For: Analytical psychology
Carl Gustav Jung was very influential in the field of psychology. He was a pioneer in the world of analytical psychology, which revolved around the examination of what exists deep within the subconscious in order to determine what might be motivating above the surface psychological problems.
Jung’s Early Years
Carl Jung was born in the Thurgau region of Switzerland on July 26, 1875. His mother, Emilie Jung, suffered from both depression and psychological delusions. The strained relationship with his mother led to Jung having less than positive views of the role of women in society. It would also be accurate to infer his exposure to his mother’s condition likely established a desire to learn more about the human mind.
Jung would slowly develop his concepts of the archetype when he deemed himself a person with two personalities. The first personality was the one of a traditional Swiss schoolboy and the other was of an aristocratic historical figure. Jung kept such musings mainly to himself.
Jung’s Educational Years
Jung attended the University of Basel in 1895. He was not originally interested in the field of psychology, but he would become hugely interested in the subject upon reading a textbook on the topic by pure chance. Jung eventually befriended the great Sigmund Freud during while publishing academic works, although the two had a famous parting of the ways. Jung, in 1908, had become the editor of the Yearbook for Psychoanalytical and Psychopathological Research.
Jung was drafted into World War I and this would have a profound impact on his life. He worked with British soldiers who were residing in internment camps in the neutral Swiss territory.
Jung’s Work and Contributions
More than the personal details of his life, Jung is known for the uniqueness of his work. He was a trailblazer in the world of psychology and he helped establish many unique and brilliant insights into the human mind.
The collective unconscious was one such area of analysis he would pioneer. The collective unconscious was his theory in which all personal experiences are stored and the conscious actions of a person are often motivated by what exists beneath the surface.
The collective unconscious is one of the three archetypes: the conscious mind, the ego, and the personal unconscious. Jung believed that many of the traits of the archetypes were derived through hereditary. Obviously, personal experiences also contributed to their development as well.
Jung was also an innovator in the realms of dream interpretation and art therapy. He believed that gateways to the subconscious are believed to be found in dreams. Art creation has a means of reaching the subconscious as well.
Carl Jung passed away on June 6, 1961, leaving a legacy that forever shaped the fields of psychiatry and psychology.
3. Jean Piaget
Born: Aug 9, 1896 in Neuchâtel, Switzerland
Died: Sep 16, 1980 (at age 84) in Geneva, Switzerland
Fields: Developmental Psychology
Famous For: Theory of cognitive development
Jean Piaget was a popular Swiss philosopher and developmental psychologist famous for his epistemological studies with children. He is best known for placing great importance on the children’s education.
Jean Piaget was born in 1896 in Switzerland. He was the eldest son of Arthur Piaget, a professor of medieval literature at University of Neuchatel. At an early stage, he developed a great interest in biology and the natural world. His interest in zoology earned him a reputation among the people in the field, especially after he published several articles by the age of 15.
Jean studied at University of Neuchatel. During his time in school, he published two philosophical papers that showed the direction of his thinking at the time. However, this was later dismissed as adolescent thought.
After his graduation, Jean moved from Switzerland to France where he became a teacher. Here, he assisted in making Binet’s intelligence tests. While working, he never focused on the wrong answers given by the children, but rather noticed that the young children consistently made certain mistakes that older children and adults did not. With this in mind, he came up with the theory that young kid’s cognitive processes are very different from those of adults. In 1921, he returned to Switzerland.
Contributions to Psychology
Jean Piaget wrote a book called Genetic Epistemology. Epistemology is a branch of philosophy that deals with nature, origin, extent and limits of human knowledge. In this book, he was interested in the nature of thought, how it develops, and understanding how genetics impacts the process.
In his early work where he discovered that young children think differently from adults, he suggested that children gained their knowledge through their experiences and interactions into groupings called “schemas.” When a brand new bit of information is acquired, it can either be assimilated into the existing schemas or even accommodated via revising and existing schema or it can actually be by creating a totally new category of information.
Today, Jean Piaget is famous for his great research on children’s cognitive development. He studied intellectual development of his three kids and came up with his own theory. This theory described the stages that children go through in development of intelligence and formal thought processes.
Piaget’s Research Methods
Jean wanted to change the way research methods were conducted. He started researching with his colleagues by using a traditional method of data collection. However, he was not satisfied with the results and therefore tried other ways. He opted to use psychometrics, naturalistic observation, and psychiatric clinical examination. As he developed his new research methods, he wrote The Language and Thought of the Child.
Jean administered a test on 15 boys between the ages of 10 and 14. He asked the boys to describe the relationship between a bouquet of flowers with many colors and another with only one color. He wanted to analyze the thinking process of the children. Jean concluded that children and adults used speech for different purposes.
Piaget’s Legacy and Influence
The magnitude of Piaget’s influence can be felt worldwide. His theory of cognitive development has been influential in many different areas such as education and morality, development psychology, evolution, philosophy, artificial intelligence and primatology.
Personal Life and Death
In 1923, Jean married Valentine Chatenay. Together, they had three children. In 1979, he was awarded the Balzan Prize for the social and political sciences. On September 16, 1980, he died of unknown causes in Geneva. He was 84 years old.
4. Carl Rogers
Born: Jan 8, 1902 in Oak Park, IL
Died: Feb 4, 1987 (at age 85) in San Diego, CA
Famous For: Person-centered approach
Awards: 1964 Humanist of the Year from the American Humanist Association, APA Award for Distinguished Scientific Contributions to Psychology (1956)
Carl Rogers was one of the originators of the humanistic approach to psychology and is also credited with participating in the founding of psychotherapy research in general. The humanistic approach is sometimes referred to as client-centered. This person centered approach was his distinctive way of understanding human relationships as well as individual personalities.
His theories were used in a wide array of areas including education, counseling and psychotherapy. Through his global efforts with the Rust Peace Workshop, Rogers was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize in 1987. He was an American psychologist exerted much influence and was regarded with great esteem.
In a study conducted by Steven Haggbloom in 2002 entitled “The 100 Most Eminent Psychologists of the 20th Century,” Rogers was ranked sixth. The criteria for the list included citations and recognition. As a clinician, he was listed second, with only Sigmund Freud being considered his superior in the field.
Rogers’s Early Years
Carl Ransom Rogers was born on January 8, 1902, in the Chicago suburb of Oak Park, IL. Carl was the fourth child of six that would be born to his father, Walter, a civil engineer and his stay-at-home mother, Julia (maiden name Cushing), who was a devout Pentecostal.
As a result of his mother’s strong Christian beliefs, Carl at one time considered the ministry and entered the seminary. Subsequently, he began to question his own religious convictions and departed the institution. He enrolled in the Teacher’s College at Columbia University in New York where he received a Ph.D. in 1931.
As part of his studies at Columbia, he became involved with the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children and began writing about that subject as well as the client centered approach in general.
Rogers’s Theories and Contributions
Carl Rogers’s humanistic and phenomenological theory is based on the phenomenal field personality theory of Arthur Combs and Donald Snygg which was first introduced in 1949. Rogers expanded on their thoughts while authoring numerous journal publications and 16 books on this subject matter alone.
Selected works by Rogers ranged from Clinical Treatment of the Problem Child in 1939 to A Way of Being in 1980. The basic premise to his studies was that the humanistic approach to therapy and scientific evaluation of the results need not be mutually exclusive.
This theory was based on 19 propositions which included one’s self concept, the fully functional person, and actualizing tendencies.
Types of Therapy Introduced
His primary practice revolved around Person-Centered Therapy and Learner-Centered teaching. Person-Centered Therapy is also now known as Rogerian psychotherapy. The quest here is for the patient to realize their true positive potential by first identifying how their behavior, feelings, and attitudes are being affected by negative reinforcements. This is a non-direct approach employing genuineness and empathy.
Student-Centered learning concentrates on the specific students’ needs rather than those of the teacher and a set curriculum. For Student-Centered learning to be successful, the pupil must be willing to actively participate in the process.
Later Years and Death
Carl Rogers passed away on February 4, 1987, in San Diego, CA at the age of 85. He had relocated to La Jolla in the mid 1960s. He died after suffering a fractured pelvis as the result of a fall a few days prior. His Noble Peace Prize nomination arrived just a few days after his passing.
5. William James
Born: Jan 11, 1842 in New York City, NY
Died: Aug 26, 1910 (at age 68) in Tamworth, NH
Famous For: Father of American Psychology
William James was a famous American psychologist and philosopher who was also professionally trained as a physician. Born in January of 1842, he is acknowledged as the father of American psychology. Many consider James to be one of the leading thinkers of late 19th century and one of the most prominent philosophers the US has ever produced.
James was born into a wealthy family in New York City. Literary and intellectual brilliance was inherited in the James family and kind of became tradition. His father, Henry James Sr., was well acquainted with intellectual and literary elites of his times. His brother, Henry James was a prominent novelist and his other sibling, Alice James, was a diarist.
James also enjoyed writing on varied topics, including psychology, religion, education, epistemology, metaphysics and mysticism. He went on to write famous books on philosophy and psychology.
Being from a wealthy family where education was rated highly, William received a trans-Atlantic education. He learned both German and French languages and during his lifetime, he travelled several times to Europe. In education, Williams started off from the artistic side, but later moved on to scientific studies at Harvard in 1861.
In 1864, Williams took up medical studies at Harvard Medical School. He earned his MD degree in 1869, but never practiced medicine. His interests lied in philosophical and psychological topics and he moved towards academics and drifted towards his interest area in teaching.
James’ Career Years
William James first wanted to be painter, but he soon realized that he did not have that talent to pursue painting as a career. Instead, he studied chemistry and physiology to earn a medical degree. He went abroad to attend lectures in literature. It was there when he was first introduced to the new psychology, which the Germans had made exact and experimental.
In 1869, he came back and completed his Harvard M.D. and started his career as a lecturer in anatomy and physiology. He later on became a prolific philosopher and psychologist, teaching both subjects at Stanford University.
Contribution to Psychology
William James was the first educator to offer any type of psychological course in America. He revolutionized the social and philosophical doctrines that were prevalent during the 19th century. He was also ranked as the chief architect of the reconstruction in Western thought that took place in the 1890s.
James openly rejected the concept of materialism and scientism. He introduced the concept of feelings and opinion, which was named as Neo-Romanticism. He studied four characteristics of religion – ineffability, transiency, passivity and noetic quality.
He believed in the psychological aspects of human behavior, where a person discusses his own feelings and experiences. He stressed the significance of the flow of thoughts in one’s conscious mind. James is one of the two namesakes of the James-Lange Theory of Emotions, which is based on the theory that the emotions depend on the feedback of one’s body.
William James’s books influenced education and were responsible for the empirical and experimental approach to the field of education. Some of his famous contributions include Principles of Psychology, Briefer Course and Talk to Teachers. His first book, Principles of Psychology, was a huge hit, and directly influenced the movement known as “functionalism.”