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21 December in the History of Psychology


Aamir Ranjha
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On December 21:

1821 — The first state mental hospital in South Carolina was authorized by an act of the state legislature. The mental hospital was located on four acres of land in Columbia, South Carolina and admitted its first patient in December 1828. On December 19, 1848, the legislature passed an act to "admit, as subjects of the lunatic asylum, persons of color, being idiots, lunatics, or epileptics," thus desegregating the institution.

1823 — Jean Henri Fabre was born. Fabre was a French high school teacher with a passion for the study of insect ethology. His detailed papers reported the natural behavior of insects observed close to his home and served as models for a later generation of professional ethologists.

1854 — Morton Prince was born. Prince promoted the use of scientific methods in the study of abnormal personality and is best known for a pioneering study of multiple personalities, The Dissociation of a Personality (1905). Prince founded the Journal of Abnormal Psychology (1906), now titled the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, and established the Harvard Psychological Clinic (1927).

1888 — Anna Berliner was born. Berliner was Wilhelm Wundt's only female doctoral student. Berliner's specialties were visual perception, experimental optometry, and advertising psychology. She introduced applied experimental psychology to Japan during a 10-year sojourn there. She was forced to leave Germany in 1936 and finished her career in the United States.

1938 — Members of the American Association for Applied Psychology met at Ohio State University to ratify the bylaws of the association and to approve affiliation with the APA and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

1954 — The doomsday group studied by Leon Festinger, Henry Riecken, and Stanley Schachter predicted that the world would end on this day. The behavior of the group was reported in the book When Prophesy Fails (1956), a case study in cognitive dissonance. This group's prophesy was not fulfilled.