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03 March in the History of Psychology

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On March 3:

1855 — Congress officially founded the first federal mental hospital, the legislation, written by reformer Dorothea Dix, called for "the most humane care and enlightened curative treatment of the insane of the Army and Navy and of the District of Columbia." After 1916 the hospital was named St. Elizabeth's Hospital.

1863 — The charter of the National Academy of Sciences was signed by President Abraham Lincoln. Until 1870, the academy's membership was limited to 50 people. The academy was commissioned to "investigate, examine, experiment, and report upon any subject of art or science" at the request of the government.

1873 — The first federal antiobscenity law, the "Comstock law," was passed. The law was intended for the welfare of children. A later court test (U.S. v. Bennett) upheld the law and produced the "Hicklin rule" for obscenity: "Whether the tendency of the matter is to deprave and corrupt the morals of those whose minds are open to such influences."

1883 — Sir Cyril Burt was born. Burt was the first psychologist to be knighted by a British monarch (1946). His work on mental tests, educational psychology, and factor analysis was well known. Charges that he fabricated or altered data in studies of kinship patterns of intelligence have tarnished his record.

1903 — Congress expanded its immigration restrictions by prohibiting immigration of, to use its terms, feeble-minded persons, epileptics, insane persons, persons insane in the last 5 years, and persons with two or more episodes of insanity at any time in their lives.

1905 — Eugenia Hanfmann was born. Hanfmann's early work was in cognition, and her later work concentrated on personality assessment and counseling psychology. Hanfmann developed the Concept Formation Test. Her best known clinical research examined disrupted concept formation in patients with schizophrenia. Her collected papers on this topic were published as Language and Thought in Schizophrenia (1944, with Jacob S. Kasanin).

1907 — In Vienna, at 10 a.m. on this day, Carl Jung first met Sigmund Freud.

1908 — John B. Watson accepted a faculty position at Johns Hopkins University. His starting salary was $3,000 per year.

1922 — Richard S. Lazarus was born. Lazarus is known for his research on psychological stress, coping and adaptation, and the relations between cognition, emotion, and motivation. APA Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award, 1989.

1928 — Theodore H. Blau was born. His interests have primarily been in clinical psychology and psychological assessment. A private practitioner specializing in child clinical psychology and neuropsychology, Blau has also been an expert consultant to police departments, child treatment facilities, alcoholism centers, and federal agencies. APA President, 1977.

1947  Life magazine carried an uncritically optimistic article about the effects of prefrontal lobotomy surgery. The article was titled "Psychosurgery: Operation to Cure Sick Minds Turns Surgeon's Blade Into an Instrument of Mental Therapy." The article was accompanied by a cartoon showing a tyrannical frontal lobe subdued by the operation.

1987 — Psychologists Brian A. Waddell and Lawrence T. Maloney patented a color imaging system that separated ambient lighting from surface reflection to better analyze the surface properties of materials. The researchers won the 1987 National Academy of Sciences Troland Award for this work.