Prominent Women in American Psychology Essay
Prominent Women in American Psychology
“The chief distinction in the intellectual powers of the two sexes is shown by man’s attaining to a higher eminence, in whatever he takes up, than can woman (Darwin).”
Darwin’s professional assumption of the intelligence of women greatly exemplified the defining opinion of the day when psychology was in its developmental stages. However, many women went to great lengths to disprove and banish this thought.
One such woman was Mary Whiton Calkins. Calkins is perhaps best known for becoming the first woman president of the American Psychological Association, a feat unheard of in her time. Unfortunately, the road to achieving this feat was paved with many obstacles and discriminating persons.
Mary Whiton Calkins was born on March 30, 1863. She was born in Buffalo, New York, to Wolcott Calkins, a Presbyterian minister, and was the eldest of five children. The family moved to Newton, Massachusetts, when Mary was seventeen and built a home there that she would live in until her death. Her father was fundamental to Mary’s education, designing and supervising her schooling, well aware of the sparse opportunities available to women. In 1882, she was allowed to enter into Smith College with advance standing as a sophomore. Unfortunately, her sister’s death in 1883 permanently influenced her thinking and the following year she stayed at home and received private lessons. She reentered Smith in the fall of 1884 as a senior and graduated with a concentration in classics and philosophy.
In 1886, her family moved to Europe for sixteen months. Here, she was able to broaden her knowledge of the classics. After returning to Massachusetts, her father arranged for an interview for her with the president of Wellesley College. There, she was a tutor in Greek beginning in the fall of 1887 and remained in that department for three years. Fortunately, a professor in the Philosophy department noted her talent for teaching and convinced her to consider the new field of Psychology. In order for Calkins to be able to teach Psychology, she had to study for at least one year in a Psychology program. However, she faced many problems reaching this goal. First, there were few Psychology departments in existence in 1890. Second, by being a woman, she was highly unlikely to be admitted to one of these programs. She was advised that the best chance she had to succeed was to study abroad. She promptly dismissed this idea and began to look for other options. She seriously considered the University of Michigan, where she would be studying under John Dewey, and Yale, where she would be studying under G.T. Ladd. However, these too were dismissed. She finally settled on Harvard, one of the few universities that boasted a laboratory.
Calkins’ first introduction was a promising one. She had received a letter from William James and Josiah Royce stating that she could “sit-in” on their lectures on a strictly informal basis. She contacted the president of Harvard expressing her desire to sit in on these lectures but was rejected on the grounds that “her presence at these lectures would receive an angry reaction from the governing body at Harvard.” In response, Mary’s father petitioned Harvard requesting that his daughter be granted admission to these lectures. The president of Wellesley College also wrote a letter on her behalf stating that she was a member of their faculty and this program was suited to her needs.
Harvard finally approved the petition on October 1, 1890. However, it was noted that Miss Calkins was being afforded this privilege and was not entitled to registration and was not a student of the college. Ironically, when she arrived for her first lecture with James in the fall, she was the only person in the class. This fortunate turn allowed her somewhat of a private tutoring session with one of America’s most prominent Psychologists. In addition to her lectures with James and Royce, she began studying experimental psychology under Dr. Edmund Sanford of Clark University.
Mary Calkins returned to Wellesley College in the fall of 1891 as an Instructor of Psychology under the department of Philosophy. Her first year back, she established a psychological laboratory at the college.
In 1892, Calkins was once again allowed to “sit-in” on classes at Harvard, this time under Hugo Munsterberg in his laboratory while he was visiting the college. She conducted several experiments while under Munsterberg and invented the paired-associate technique. This was a suggested classification of cases of associations dealing with studying memory. Her technique was later refined by G.E. Muller and included in Titchner’s Student Manual, taking full credit for it himself. Calkins continued her research under Professor Munsterberg until October of 1894, at which time Munsterberg wrote to the president of Harvard requesting that Mary be admitted as a candidate for the Ph.D. On October 29, 1894, Harvard refused. The following year, she presented her thesis, An experimental research on the association of ideas to Professors Palmer, James, Royce, Munsterberg, Harris, and Dr. Santayana. All agreed that she satisfied the requirements for her degree, but alas, it was denied.
In 1895, Calkins returned to Wellesley College and was named an Associate Professor of Psychology and Philosophy. She was promoted to Professor in 1898. She continued to do research and completed hundreds of papers that were published in both journals of psychology and philosophy. In addition, she wrote four books and essays concerning the religiousness of children and the philosophical treatment of time as related to causality and to space.
Perhaps her most profound contribution to psychology was her system of “self-psychology;” as she called it, a reconciliation between structural and functional psychology. This field dealt with space and time consciousness, emotion, association, color theory, and dreams. She held that the conscious self was the central fact of psychology (Bumb1). Her first basic definition of her psychology is as follows:
“All sciences deal with facts, and there are two great classes of facts-Selves and Facts-for-the-Selves. But the second of these groups, the Facts-for-the-Selves, is again capable of an important division into internal and external facts. To the first class belong percepts, images, memories, thoughts, emotions, and violations, inner events as we may call them; to the second class belong the things and the events of the outside world, the physical facts, as we may name them…The physical sciences study these common and apparently independent or external facts; psychology as distinguished from them is the science of consciousness, the study of selves and the innerfacts-for-selves.”
Mary Whiton Calkins when on to become president of the American Psychological Association in 1905 and president of the American Philosophical Association in 1918 (Harrington). In a 1908 list of the leading psychologists in the United States, she was ranked twelfth. In 1909, Columbia University bestowed a Doctor of Letters degree upon her and Smith College followed with a Doctor of Law degree in 1910. In 1928, she was made an honorary member of the British Psychological Association. However, she rejected an honorary Ph.D. from Radcliffe in 1902 based solely upon the sexist attitude that was still prevalent at Harvard. Harvard still has not issued any degree in honor of Calkins and holds that if feels there is “no reason” to award the degree.
Another notable pioneer in the area of women in psychology was Margaret Floy Washburn. Although not much is known of her earlier years, we do know that she was admitted into Columbia University as a “hearer” in 1891 (monadock). While at Columbia, she was a student of James Cattell. In 1892, Washburn went to Cornell where she majored in psychology under E.B. Titchener. She began her advanced study in psychology after graduating college and received her Ph.D. in 1894.
In 1912, she became a member of the council of the American Psychology Association. This was quite an honor considering that only three women were allowed to hold that position during the first forty years of the American Psychological Association’s existence. In 1921, Washburn was named President of the American Psychological Association. She was also elected to the International Committee on Psychology and to the Society of Experimental Psychologists in 1929. She also became only the second woman up until that time to be admitted into perhaps the most prominent scientific society in the United States, the National Academy of Sciences, in 1931.
She was considered by some as the most prominent woman in academic psychology. She taught philosophy and psychology at Wells College and published two books including one major textbook. She was active in organizational psychology’s activities on regional, national, and international levels. She was highly motivated, had a strong positive self image, and had the important ability to fraternize with her colleagues.
Washburn was confronted with a problem that many women still face today: to pursue a career or to devote her life to marriage. She chose the former and established herself as a prominent member within the psychological community. She contributed such things as problems of social consciousness, problems of revived and ideated emotions, the role of movement in the development of mental life and work on animal behavior. She showed us that humans react to the conceived mental acts much like animals respond to the behavior of other animals. She also translated Wundt’s Ethical Systems (Harrington).
Another prominent woman in American psychology that holds a place in history because of her ‘first’ is Christine Ladd-Franklin. She was foremost a psychologist, a logician, a mathematician, and at times an aspiring physicist and astronomer. However, unlike the previous two psychologists mentioned,
Ladd-Franklin was surrounded by powerful and intelligent women.
She was born on December 1, 1847 in Windsor, Connecticut, the oldest of three children to Eliphalet and Augusta (Niles) Ladd, who were both from colonial New England. Kitty, as she was sometimes known, also had two half-siblings from her father’s second marriage. As a toddler, Christine accompanied her mother and aunt to women’s rights lectures, one of which was given by Elizabeth Oakes Smith. Kitty’s mother died when she was only twelve years old of pneumonia, at which time she moved to Portsmount, New Hampshire. There, she spent her adolescent years with her father’s mother.
Ladd-Franklin received two years of her schooling from Wesleyan Academy in Wilbraham, Massachusetts. While there, she followed the same course track as the boys who were preparing to go to Harvard and in 1865, she graduated as valedictorian of her class. Upon graduation, she entered Vassar College, against the wisdom of her family. However, she did convince her grandmother that an education was her best opportunity because of her “slim chances at marriage.” She believed that women were of an overabundance in New England and her commonplace looks rendered her unlikely to marry. Her grandmother agreed.
She entered into the second year at Vassar College in 1866, financially supported by her aunt. After only one year, she withdrew and took a teaching position in Utica, New York. During her year off from school, it is presumably said that she “practiced piano, read in three or four languages, worked problems in trigonometry, and collected 150 botanical specimens.” After one year of teaching, she returned to Vassar and completed her degree. During the next nine years, she was an instructor of science and mathematics in secondary schools in several states. However, she wrote, ”Teaching I hate with a perfect hatred…I shall not be able to endure it another year.”
She promptly applied to Johns Hopkins University as a graduate student. Unfortunately, Johns Hopkins was not traditionally open to women. However, James J. Sylvester, a contributor to Educational Times was familiar with her work and urged the university to admit her. In 1878, she was admitted with the understanding that she would only attend his lectures. This was lifted one year later when acknowledgment of her work was shown and she was given the stipend of a fellow. However, the formal title “fellow” was withheld from her. She was also denied regular admission, having her name recorded by a special note rather than being on the traditional list of students.
Ladd-Franklin is perhaps best known for her theory of color vision (Ragsdale). “She assumed a photochemical model of vision and postulated three stages of molecular differentiation, presumably associated with three stages of evolutionary development (Harrington).”The paper resulting from this study appeared in the first ever volume of the American Journal of Psychology in 1887. During the academic year of 1891-92, her husband, Fabian Franklin took a sabbatical and she accompanied him to Europe. Here, she was able to continue her vision research in the Gottingen laboratory of G.E. Muller. This feat, however, was not without obstacles. Women were not allowed to enroll at German universities and she was only accepted after her persistent requests for admission. Luckily for her, Muller was an accommodating man and repeated lectures for her individually for her that she was not allowed to attend.
After leaving her husband to care for their daughter in Gottingen, she traveled to Berlin and was admitted into the laboratory of Hermann von Helmholtz and the lectures of Professor Arthur Konig. It was rumored that she was admitted into these institutions only because the sense that “foreign women were far less of a threat, since they would return home and not expect to teach in Germany.” Ironically, after working with the three above mentioned men,
Ladd-Franklin rejected both the three-color theory of color vision supported by Helmholtz and Konig, and the three opponent-color pairs theory supported by Muller.
After completion of the equivalent of her Ph.D., she requested a position at Johns Hopkins in 1893. Only the year before, she had presented her color vision theory to the International Congress of Psychology in London. However, she was denied a lecturing position at Johns Hopkins and continued her independent work. From 1901 to 1905 she was an associate editor for logic and philosophy in Baldwin’s Dictionary of Philosophy and Psychology. Finally, in 1904, Christine was allowed to lecture one course per year at Johns Hopkins. She retained this position for five years on a year-to-year basis. In 1910, her husband attained the position of associate editor of the New York Evening Post (he had given up his teaching position in 1895) and they left for New York. While in New York, she continued to lecture part-time at Columbia University from 1912-1913. She also lectured at Clark University, Harvard University, and in 1914, at the University of Chicago. Despite the opportunity to teach one or two positions at these prominent universities, these appointments were a struggle to obtain and she often lectured without pay.
In her mid-sixties, Ladd-Franklin began writing to E.B. Tichener, who was twenty years her junior, concerning his insistence on banning women from the meetings of his Experimentalists group. Naturally, she did not gain acceptance (Ragsdale).
In 1926, Christine Ladd-Franklin finally received the Ph.D. that she deserved from Vassar. At eighty-two years of age, on March 5, 1930, she died at her Riverside Drive, New York City home.
Perhaps one of the best known names in American psychology is that of Karen Horney. Born Karen Clementina Theodora Danielson just outside of Hamburg on September 16, 1885, she was the daughter of a sea captain. As one might expect, this left open the possibilities of many roads of development. Karen’s father was a deeply religious, zealous, uptight Lutheran that prompted his children to call him “the Bible thrower” because, according to Horney, he often did. Her mother was from an aristocratic family and was reportedly interested in fortune telling and secular heroes. Understandably, her parents had an unhappy marriage that was only compounded when her father’s four children from his previous marriage were around. Remarkably, her parents did manage to stay together for twenty years.
Horney’s childhood is somewhat questionable. Although Horney claims that her father much preferred her older brother, Berndt, over her, her father managed to bring her gifts from all over the world and even took her on three long sea voyages, something quite unusual for sea captains to do in those days. Because of the deprivation of her father’s affections, she became quite attached to her mother and became as she put it, “her little lamb.”
At the age of nine, Karen changed her entire outlook on life. In her own words, “If I couldn’t be pretty, I decided I would be smart.” She became ambitious and at times, even rebellious, not adhering very well to compromise. Also during this time, she developed somewhat of a crush on her brother. Embarrassed by her obvious attentions, he pushed her away. This rejection led to her first bout with depression—a problem that would plague her for the rest of her life.
In 1904, her mother (who was 19 years her husband’s junior) divorced Karen’s father and left with her two children in tow. Two years later, she entered into medical school at the Universities of Frieburg and Gottingen, and Berlin, against the wishes of her parents and the opinion of ‘polite’ society. While in school, she met Oscar (sometimes spelled Oskar) Horney and in 1909, the two married. Later, this marriage was thought of as a marriage of security. After all, not many men who had a Ph.D. in political science and money were interested in marrying women who had the ambition that she did. Much like Freud predicted, she married a man that was quite like her father.
In 1910, Karen gave birth to Brigitte, the first of three daughters. Following that, in 1911, her mother died. These two events put great strain on Karen as she prepared to enter into psychoanalysis.
Worried that her daughters would rob her of “her golden freedom” and would not allow her true potential to surface, she left many of the parenting duties to her husband and Oscar spent much more time with the children (Sonoma). Because of the likeness in personality that Oscar had with her father, Karen did not intervene when her husband disciplined her children. Rather, she considered it a good atmosphere for her children to encourage their independence. She also put all of her daughters in psychoanalytic treatment to advance their growth. The analyst often spoke of penis envy, which the girls did not comprehend. Years later, she changed her perspective on childrearing (Boeree).
In 1923, Oscar’s business collapsed and he developed meningitis. That same year, her beloved brother died of pulmonary infection at the age of 40. At this period in her life, she became so depressed that she swam out to a sea piling during a vacation with thoughts of committing suicide.
In 1926, at the age of 41, Karen moved out of Oscar’s house. Four years later, she and her daughters moved to the United States, eventually settling in Brooklyn. At this time, Brooklyn was considered an intellectual capital due to the influx of Jewish refugees from Germany. It was in Brooklyn that she was introduced and became friends with Erich Fromm and Harry Stack Sullivan. After the demise of her marriage, she had affairs with Hans Liberman, Erich Fromm (from 1931-early 40s), and had numerous affairs with students and clients that were much younger than her (Sonoma).
Despite her many defeats in her personal life, she was quite successful in her professional life. In 1910, she entered into analysis with Karl Abraham, an experience that changed her life forever. However, at the end of analysis, she was still afflicted with chronic fatigue and depression. She later commented that the biggest failure of her analysis with Abraham was the failure to “deal with her compulsion to move in and out of relationships with men.” She emerged in 1917 as a Freudian.
Horney became a founding member of the Berlin Psychoanalytic Institute in 1920. Her approach to treatment at this time was quite unusual: she had a sliding scale. She believed that a person should receive some treatment regardless of income and payment. After emigrating to the United States, she was invited to become the associate director of the newly founded Chicago Psychoanalytic Institute in 1932, by Franz Alexander. She later became a member of the New York Psychoanalytic Institute and in 1941, organized the American Institute for Psychoanalysis. She served as dean for this organization until her death in 1952. She was also the founding editor of the American Journal of Psychoanalysis (Paris).
Horney is also well known for her associations with other psychologists, most notably, the Zodiac Five: Erich Fromm, Harry Stack Sullivan, Clara Thompson, Abraham Kardiner, and herself. Very little is know about this group other than many theorists in the area of psychology brought their ideas to this club to ‘critique’ their theories.
Horney was one of the biggest proponents of Freud’s theory, but also one of its opponents. She tried to modify orthodox ideas about feminine psychology while still staying within the framework of Freudian theory. In addition, she tried to redefine psychoanalysis by replacing Freud’s biological orientation with an emphasis on culture and interpersonal relationships. She disagreed violently with Freud about penis envy, female masochism, and feminine development in her many essays. However controversial these ideas were when they first appeared, the soon were ignored until they were republished in 1967.
Karen strove to show that women have their own biological constitutions and patterns of development separate of those of their male counterparts. She argued that psychoanalysis regarded women as defective men because it is “the product of a male genius (Freud) and a male-dominated culture.” To counteract Freud’s penis envy, Horney developed “womb-envy” in which men are envious of pregnancy, childbirth, motherhood, the breasts, and suckling, which gives arise to an unconscious tendency to devalue women (Paris).
NeurosisFeelings and attitudesInstinctual drives or object
determined by culturerelationships
Driven by emotional Ego concept without initiative
Compulsive drives butCompulsive drives but not
PsychoanalysisSeeking self-realizationAvoids self-realization
Help from analysis to Love for the analysist
Inner ConflictsAbilities to be a decentRepressed or repressing
Man can changeDisbelief in human goodness
*Chart adapted from http://muskingum.edu/~psychology/psychweb/history/horney.htm
Horney also believed that parental influences and other socializing forces contribute substantially to how a child’s personality evolves (1w). Horney did agree with Freud that children would hold in hostility toward their parents for fear of pushing their parents away (geocities). In addition, she developed her mature theory in which individuals cope with anxiety produced by feeling unsafe, unloved, and unvalued, by disowning their spontaneous feelings and developing elaborate strategies of defense.
According to Horney, people try to gain safety, love, and esteem through dependency, humility, and self-sacrificing “goodness.” This can take one of three forms: the narcissistic, who is full of self-admiration and believes in their own greatness; the perfectionist, who strives for excellence in every detail; and the arrogant-vindictive, who have a need to retaliate for injuries received in childhood (Paris).
She is perhaps best known for her neurosis theory. She saw neurosis as an attempt to make life bearable, as a way of “interpersonal control an coping.” Horney stated the neurotic needs as follows:
1. need for affection, approval, to please others and be liked by them
2. need for a partner; idea that love will solve all of one’s problems
3. need to restrict one’s life to narrow borders, to be undemanding, satisfied with little, to be inconspicuous
4. need for power, control over others
6. need for social recognition or prestige
9. need for self-sufficiency and independence
10. need for perfection and unassailability
Horney also identified three coping strategies:
1. compliance: includes needs one, two, and three
2. aggression: includes needs four through eight
3. withdrawal: includes needs nine, ten, and three
Horney cited many other reasons a person might develop neurosis including parental indifference, called the “basic evil” by Horney. This indifference is characterized by a lack of warmth and affection in childhood. According to Horney, even abuse, physical or sexual, can be overcome if the child feels wanted and loved. The key to understanding parental indifference is that it is a matter of the child’s perception and not the parent’s intentions (Boeree).
The greatest difference between Karen Horney and Sigmund Freud might be her belief that everyone is redeemable. She also stressed self-analysis, a theory that received little respect from the psychological community. In fact, she wrote one of the first “self-help” books.
It is easy to see the influence that Karen Horney had on many later psychologists, both men and women. Perhaps her beliefs can be best described by her quote, “The perfect normal person is rare in our civilization (bemo).”
Another member of the Zodiac Five, Clara Thompson, was also quite influential in her time. Born in Providence, Rhode Island, in 1893, she became a progressive figure in American psychoanalysis in the 1940s. She attended Pembroke, the women’s college affiliated with Brown University, from 1912 to 1916. Thompson received her M.D. from Johns Hopkins University in 1920 and taught at the New York Psychoanalytic Institute from 1933 to 1941.
Thompson also expanded the theory of penis envy to include cultural influences by pointing at “the general competitive tendencies in our culture, which stimulate envy and the tendency to place an inferior evaluation on women.” Much like her colleague, Karen Horney, she was highly criticized for making comments against the great Freud.
She was influenced by the likes of Harry Stack Sullivan, Sandor Ferenczi, William Alanson White, Karen Horney, and other neo-Freudians. In the famous schism in the American psychoanalytic community, she helped establish the William Alanson White Institute in 1943 and served as its director from 1946 to 1958. She made more of an influence on psychology through her students and colleagues than through any of her theories. Her best known book, Psychoanalysis: Evolution and Development focused on women and sexuality (bio).
Also influenced greatly by Freud was Margaret Schoenberger Mahler. She was born in Sopron, Germany and studied medicine at the German universities of Munich and Heidelberg. She received her M.D. in 1922 from the university of Jena. Mahler founded the first psychoanalytic guidance clinic devoted specifically to children in Vienna. She married Paul Mahler in 1925 and they settled in New York City in 1938.
She was best known for her pioneering work on childhood schizophrenia, the individuation process, and her theory of development (search). Mahler determined that there are four basic stages of pre-Oepidal development: normal infantile autism (birth to two months), symbiosis (two months to five months), separation-individuation (five months to ten months), and rapproachement (fifteen to twenty-one months). In addition to these four stages, there are also many substages (Emmanuel).
Margaret Mead was born December 16, 1901, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, one of five children (gwu). Her mother was a pioneer in child psychology and her father taught economics at the Wharton School but she had to beg her father to send her to college. She enrolled at DePauw University but after one year, entered Barnard College, Columbia University. She received her B.A. degree in 1923 and completed her M.A. degree, in psychology, in 1924, from Columbia. She completed her doctoral thesis in 1925 but did not receive her Ph.D. from Columbia until 1929. In latter years, she received honorary degrees from Wilson College, Elmira College, and Rutgers University (Mead).
Although Mead is best know for her pioneering work as an anthropologist, her understanding of other cultures has given us a new outlook on such issues as adolescence and sexuality. She argued that adolescence is not inevitably a time of stress and conflict. She also was quite critical of American society for shrouding sexuality in secrecy (great).
All total, Margaret Mead wrote forty-four books and over 1,000 articles that have been translated into virtually all languages. She wrote on subjects as vast as mental and spiritual health, ethics, and overpopulation. She was also the first to conduct psychologically-oriented field work (Tribute). In her own words: “I have spent most of my life studying the lives of other peoples—faraway peoples—so that Americans might better understand themselves (amnh).” Margaret Mead died in 1978 (2001).
Leta Stetter Hollingworth was born on May 25, 1886. Her father was, among other things, a peddler, a teamster, a rancher, a trader, and a bar owner. She was the first-born and her mother died soon after the birth of her third child. She inherited a journal that her mother had recorded the first year of Leta’s life in and she continued this tradition well into her life. When she was twelve years old, her father remarried and took the children from the home of their grandparents where they had been stationed to the home of the new stepmother. This proved to be a horrible experience.
When Leta was sixteen, she enrolled in the University of Nebraska and comprised an impressive four-year academic record. She also became engaged to Henry Hollingworth during this time. In 1906, she received her B.A. degree along with a State Teacher’s Certificate. After moving to New York to marry Hollingworth in 1908, she specialized in education and sociology and received her Masters in Education at Columbia University in 1913. Leta completed her Ph.D. at Columbia University under Edward L. Thorndike in 1916. She was then offered a position at Columbia Teacher’s College and remained in that position for the remainder of her life.
Hollingworth’s greatest contribution to psychology was her study of women’s issues. She wrote on topics such as male domination of social order, suffrage, and the female menstrual cycle, the last of which was the subject of her Doctoral thesis, which was supervised by Thorndike. She also did much work with mentally deficient and mentally gifted children (Hochman).
Dorthea Lynde Dix was born on April 4, 1802, in Hampden, Maine. She was the first child of Joseph and Mary Dix. Her father was a Methodist preacher and her family life could be described as abusive. Her mother was not in good mental health and her father was an alcoholic. She once commented, “I never knew childhood.” During the War of 1812, the family was forced to take refuge in Vermont. Her father taught her how to read and write; this developed a passion for reading and teaching. She later taught her brothers how to read as well.
She was sent to live with her grandmother, along with her two children, at the age of twelve. Her grandmother was quite wealthy and demanded that Dorthea acquire the interests of a wealthy girl. During one episode, she was punished severely for giving food and her new clothes to the beggar children who were standing at their front gate. From there, she was sent to live with a great aunt and stayed with her for nearly four years. It was with her aunt that she met her second cousin, Edward Bangs, an attorney and fourteen years her senior. He convinced her to start what he called a “little dame school.” At the age of fifteen, she taught her first twenty pupils.
When Dorthea was eighteen, Edward told her that he had fallen in love with her. She immediately closed down her school and returned to her grandmother’s. However, Edward followed her to Boston and proposed marriage. Dix accepted his proposal would not agree to a definite date of marriage. After her father’s death in 1821, she returned the engagement ring and devoted the rest of her life to teaching.
Upon entering a jail in 1841, she noted the horrible treatment of the mentally ill. When asked why these conditions existed, her answer was “the insane do not feel heat or cold.” She immediately took these matters to the courts and eventually won. She traveled throughout every state on the east side of the Mississippi River and over half of Europe inspecting jails. In all, she played a major role in founding thirty-two mental hospitals, fifteen schools for the feeble minded, a school for the blind, and numerous training facilities for nurses (Dix).
Another woman who claimed many ‘firsts’ in psychology was Helen Bradford Thompson Woolley. She was born in Chicago, Illinois, to David and Isabella Thompson on November 6, 1874. Her father was a shoe manufacturer and her mother was a homemaker. Both her, and her two sisters, all attended college. After graduating from college, she enrolled at the University of Chicago. She completed her undergraduate degree in 1897 and her Ph.D. in 1900.
At the University of Chicago, she conducted the first major research concerned with the differences between men and women. She also conducted research on University of Chicago students in areas including: motor ability, taste and smell, skin and muscle senses, vision, hearing, affective processes, and intellectual faculties. She published her doctoral dissertation under the supervision of James Angell. Woolley influenced other female psychologists, including Leta Stetter Hollingworth.
After leaving Chicago, she studied in Paris and Berlin. Upon returning to the United States, she began teaching at Mount Holyoke College. She became director of the psychological laboratory and professor of psychology in 1902. She became engaged in 1905 to Dr. Paul Woolley and moved with him to the Philippines. In 1908, she and her husband moved back to Nebraska, perhaps because of the birth of their first child. Helen became involved in child welfare reforms, African American rights, and suffrage issues.
In the mid-1920s, she accepted a position in New York as a professor of education at Columbia University’s teacher’s college, while her husband was in California. This move apparently solidified their separation. In 1926, after a series of stressful events, she “became emotionally incapacitated” and in 1930, was asked to resign from teaching (Woolley).
Psyche Cattell is perhaps more well known for being the daughter of James McKeen Cattell rather than her own psychological career. She was born on August 2, 1893. Her mother was Josephine Owen Cattell and while book after book as been written about hr father, almost nothing has been written about her mother. It is quite easy to say that her father had a great influence on her. Psyche and her five siblings lived in a huge house overlooking the Hudson River. Their father insisted that they be home-schooled and hired only the best teachers. Psyche suffered from dyslexia and when she expressed her desire to attend college, her father would not support her. He felt that she would not be able to perform at the college level. Despite this lack of emotional and financial support, she forged ahead and got a job as a research assistant in order to pay her own tuition. She began her undergraduate work at Sargent School of Physical Education and received her M.A. degree from Cornell University in 1925. Following that, she went to Harvard University and received a Master’s of Education degree followed by a Doctorate of Education degree in 1927.
Psyche Cattell was a research assistant both during and after her graduate studies at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education. She took a similar position at Stanford from 1925 to 1926. In 1931, she adopted a son, Hudson. Despite the difficulties for a single woman in obtaining an adopted child, she adopted a daughter, Jowain, in 1940.
In addition to her research assistant jobs, Psyche was also an instructor in mental testing. She realized that the tests of her time needed and improvement and did just that. Her infant intelligence test is still in use today (Psyche).
Grace Helen Kent was born on June 6, 1875, in Michigan City, Indiana. She was born to a minister who followed in the steps of three generations of clergymen. Kent’s father was quite liberal for the time and was one of the first white pastors for a Negro church.
After attending high school, she attended Grinnell College for two years. She then transferred to the University of Iowa and received her bachelor’s degree in 1902. In 1904, she received her master’s degree from the University of Iowa under Carl Seashore. In 1905, Kent moved to the East coast to work on her graduate work with Hugo Munsterberg at Harvard for about two years.
Her major work was done on associationism at King’s Park State Hospital on Long Island. There, she worked on the famous Kent-Rosanoff Association Test in conjunction with Dr. A.J. Rosanoff in 1910. She later worked with
Dr. Shepard Ivory Franz at George Washington University. In 1911, she received her Ph.D. from the same university in psychology.
One contemporary psychologist is Sandra Ruth Lipsitz Bem. She was born on June 22, 1944, to Peter, a postal clerk, and Lillian, a secretary, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Sandra was one of three girls in a class of twelve at Hillel Academy, a Jewish school in Pittsburgh. It was during this time that her future became evident, when she began to show concern for gender differences. One such incident has her being expelled for wearing pants to school. She received her bachelor’s degree in psychology from Carnegie-Mellon University in 1965. She found that she preferred hypothesis testing rather than experimental testing here. She also found her future husband, Darly Bem, and married him after a few months. She decided to study child psychology and attended the University of Michigan. She received her Ph.D. in developmental psychology at the tender age of twenty-three.
Her teaching career began at Carnegie-Mellon as an assistant professor where she remained until 1971. Later that year, Stanford University offered a one-year position to both her and her husband. Sandra remained at Stanford until 1978, when she did not receive tenure. Once again, both the Bems accepted positions at Cornell University.
In 1971, she created a measurement that she called the Bem Sex Role Inventory (BSRI). This instrument allows a person to rate both masculine and feminine traits. At the age of thirty-one, Sandra received the American Psychological Association Distinguished Scientific Award for Early Career Contribution to Psychology for “her studies of sex roles, androgyny, and the ontogeny of psychosexual identity and maturity (Bettis).”
Contemporary psychology cannot be talked about without giving a quick mention to Joyce Brothers. She was born in 1927, to parents who believed that nothing was more important than hard work, achievement, and family. She demonstrated a photographic memory early in life. She received her bachelor’s degree, with honors, from Cornell in 1947. She then received her Master’s degree from Columbia in 1949. A week later, she married. She gave birth to her daughter, Lisa, the following summer.
Because of the meager income being brought in by her husband, Joyce decided to appear on the $64,000 Question TV quiz show. She was introduced on the show as a psychologist who was an expert on boxing. She memorized a boxing encyclopedia for the show and appeared on air for five weeks straight, answering every question. She became one of the biggest winners in quiz show history, winning $130,000. She gained instant celebrity status and went on to host a television show on sex, love, marriage, and child rearing that ran for twenty-one years. She also has a daily newspaper column, a monthly column in Good Housekeeping, and a daily call-in program. She has also published seven books, two of which became best sellers (Brothers).
When a person speaks of sex today, only one name comes to mind—
Dr. Ruth. Karola Ruth Siegel was born on June 4, 1928, in Frankfort, Germany. She was the only child of a privileged Orthodox Jewish family. Her father was a prosperous notions wholesaler and her mother was the daughter of cattle rancher. Ruth often crept into her father’s library to read his books. It was this experience that first piqued her interest in human sexuality. When the Nazis came into power in 1933, the SS came to take her father. Ruth was sent to a Swiss school that evolved into an orphanage for Jewish refugee girls. She never saw her family again. She now believes that they perished in the Auschwitz concentration camp. Ruth suffered immensely and was forced to act as maid for the Swiss Jewish girls. She also often found herself in trouble by sharing her knowledge on taboo subjects, such as menstruation, with other girls.
After the war, she moved to Israel, then Palestine and became a Zionist. It was here that she changed her first name to Ruth and joined the Haganah, the Jewish underground movement that was fighting for creation of a Jewish homeland. On June 4, her birthday, she was wounded when a bomb exploded outside of the home where she lived, taking off the top of her foot.
Ruth frequently worried that she would never marry. She wrote in her diary, “Nobody is going to want me because I’m short and ugly.” However, in 1950, an Israeli soldier proposed and she immediately accepted. They moved to Paris where she studied psychology at the Sorbonne. The marriage ended after five years.
Ruth later sailed to New York using the 5,000 marks (about $1,500) she received as restitution from the West German Government with a French boyfriend. She received a scholarship to the New School of Social Research and gave birth to a baby girl, Miriam, after arriving in New York. She later divorced the Frenchman, whom she had married to legalize the pregnancy, and worked as a housemaid to support her daughter while attending English lessons and evening classes. In 1959, she graduated with a Master’s degree in sociology and received a position as a research assistant at Columbia University.
She fell in love with her current husband, Manfred Westheimer, while on a skiing vacation with her boyfriend. Nine months later, they were wed. Ruth gave birth to a son, Joel, and became an American citizen soon after.
Ruth took a job at Planned Parenthood in Harlem, New York City, in the late 1960s and in 1967, she was appointed project director. She worked toward her doctorate degree in family and sex counseling through Columbia University evening classes and became an associate professor of sex counseling at Lehman College in the Bronx early in the 1970s. She then moved on to Brooklyn College and was promptly fired.
Her career took a fortunate turn when she lectured to New York broadcasters about the need for sex education programming. She reasoned that such programs would dispel the silence around such issues as contraception and unwanted pregnancies. Ruth was offered twenty-five dollars a week to do Sexually Speaking, a fifteen-minute show every Sunday that would air just after midnight. The show was an immediate success and so was Dr. Ruth. Producers soon expanded the time-slot to one hour and opened up the phone lines to allow live callers. By the summer of 1983, Sexually Speaking was attracting a quarter-million listeners weekly.
It was clear that fans adored her frank and non-judgmental approach to their sexual queries. She was criticized by many but insisted that she was providing a much-needed educational service to her listeners. She has now expanded her services to include newspaper columns, a column in Playgirl magazine, The Dr. Ruth Show, and several books including Sex for Dummies. In 1996, she launched a web site featuring daily sex tips and advice. She continues her private practice in New York (Ruth).
It is very obvious that many women have made significant contributions to the area of American Psychology, both directly and indirectly. Their accomplishments have been great and deserving. The obstacles they were forced to overcome may not be the same today, but they are certainly still present. As the field of psychology widens and develops, we are sure to be shown many more prominent women in American Psychology.
Prominent Women in American Psychology
1w:What is Karen Horney’s approach to psychoanalysis?:
2001: Margaret Mead:An Anthropology of Human Freedom:
Emmanuel: A developmental model of girls and women:
Harrington: Where Have All the Women Gone?: