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Psychology and Psychiatry

Selma Fraiberg

Selma Fraiberg was a psychoanalyst, author, and pioneer in the field of infant psychiatry.

Ruth Lewis Farkas

The impressive and full life of Ruth Lewis Farkas spanned many occupations: educator, sociologist, businesswoman, philanthropist, inventor, wife, and mother. She was born on December 20, 1906, and raised in Manhattan, the fourth of Samuel Lewis and Jennie Bach’s five children. Farkas’s parents were in the real estate business, but Jennie Lewis also worked with the poor of Manhattan and occasionally allowed her young daughter to accompany her into tenements. She gave Ruth this advice: “No matter what your station in life, always try to contribute to those less fortunate.”

Claire Fagin

Claire Fagin, a distinguished nursing educator, scholar, dean, and leader, became the first woman interim president of the University of Pennsylvania (June 1993–July 1994) and the first female to achieve this position in any Ivy League university. Her achievement, as a woman and especially as a nurse, was immortalized for Fagin by a friend who slightly altered an old New Yorker magazine cartoon showing a boy and girl playing “hospital.” In the version given to Fagin, the girl turned to the boy and said: “You can play doctor and I’ll play the president of the University of Pennsylvania.”

Sara Riwka B’raz Erlich

If a Jewish author could be selected as representative of the process of amalgamation of cultures in the [jwa_encyclopedia_glossary:308]Diaspora[/jwa_encyclopedia_glossary], Sara Riwka Erlich would be the appropriate Brazilian-Jewish woman writer. Born in Brazil of European parents who immigrated to that country, Erlich grew up in the city of Recife, immersed in a combination of Jewish heritage and some areas of non-Jewish life.

Dorothy Dinnerstein

Since its publication, Dorothy Dinnerstein’s The Mermaid and the Minotaur: Sexual Arrangements and Human Malaise (1976) has been recognized as one of the most important contributions to modern feminist thought. The book, translated into at least seven languages, is widely used in women’s studies courses and is an influential text outside academia as well. Comparing Dinnerstein’s book to Simone de Beauvoir’s The Second Sex, one reviewer declared that this seminal essay not only belongs in “every feminist library” but in the “library of every well-educated person.”

Helene Deutsch

In 1923, Helene Deutsch became the first psychoanalyst to write a book about female psychology, called Psychoanalysis of the Sexual Functions of Women in English. Her interest in the subject, along with that of Karen Horney, helped to push her mentor Sigmund Freud, who did not like being left behind, into writing articles about female psychology. When Deutsch was completing her manuscript, she wrote to her husband, Felix, “It brings something new to this terra incognita in analysis—I believe, the first ray of light on the unappreciated female libido.” For her to draw attention to the female libido in that era was implicitly to amend Freud’s own outlook. At the same time, Deutsch was pioneering the importance of motherhood. Other psychoanalysts of the period, such as Otto Rank, Sandor Ferenczi, and Georg Groddeck, were also intrigued by the neglected role of mothering, but Deutsch was the one to insist on its special significance for female psychology. Although she always remained loyal to Freud’s conceptual framework, her writings were an outgrowth of her own personal experiences and insight.

Florence Levin Denmark

The existence of two autobiographies and two biographies attest to the importance of Florence Denmark’s contributions to American psychology. However, none of these published materials mention the fact that she is Jewish, probably because she has never felt that her Jewish heritage is particularly salient to her. Nevertheless, like the work of other Jewish women of her generation, Denmark’s contributions to psychology have been socially activist in nature. She is a founder of the field of the psychology of women, and has contributed much to its legitimization in terms of both scholarship and organizational leadership.

Rose Laub Coser

In a life devoted to studying how social structure affects individuals, sociologist Rose Laub Coser made contributions to medical sociology, refined major concepts of role theory, and analyzed contemporary gender issues in the family and in the occupational world.

Phyllis Chesler

Phyllis Chesler, a self-described “radical feminist” and “liberation psychologist,” is a prolific writer, seasoned activist and organizer, and committed Jew and Zionist. Also a psychotherapist and Emerita Professor of Psychology and Women’s Studies, Chesler is the author of twelve books.

Kim Chernin

Ranging from poetry to investigations of women’s eating disorders, from fictional autobiography to the story of a voice, Kim Chernin’s works radiate the “spiritual politics” she considers the essence of her Jewishness.

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How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Psychology and Psychiatry." (Viewed on September 23, 2014) <http://jwa.org/topics/psychology-and-psychiatry>.

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