Aaron T. Beck (Encyclopedia of Psychology)
American neurologist and father of cognitive therapy.
A pragmatic approach to therapy
Aaron T. Beck was born in Providence, Rhode Island, on July 18, 1921, the third son of Russian Jewish immigrants. His father was a printer by trade who seriously abided by his socialist ideals. His rather overbearing mother was known for her extreme mood swings. Beck had two siblings who died before he was born. Beck's childhood typified middle-class America, complete with his involvement in Boy Scouts and athletics.
From this mediocrity rose one of America's ground-breaking psychotherapists. Beck developed what is known as cognitive therapy, which is used for cases ranging from depression and panic attacks to addictions, eating disorders, and even the most severe psychiatric illnesses. Beck's childhood strongly influenced his approach to therapy. A life-threatening staph infection at the age of eight changed his life. At this point, Beck was transformed from a very active young man to a quiet one who preferred reading to playing football. As a child, he developed a fear of hospitals, blood, and even the scent of ether, which made him feel as if he would faint. Eventually, he overcame those fears rationally. "I learned not to be concerned about the faint...
(The entire section is 832 words.)
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Beck, Aaron Temkin (Psychologists and Their Theories)
AMERICAN PSYCHIATRIST, RESEARCHER YALE MEDICAL SCHOOL, MD, 1946
Aaron Beck is one of the founders of cognitive therapy, a form of talk therapy that incorporates an information-processing model of human psychology rather than one based on instinct, motivation, or biochemistry. As of the early twenty-first century, cognitive therapy has become the reigning model of short-term psychotherapy in the United Kingdom as well as the United States, supplanting both psychoanalytical and behavioral approaches to the study and treatment of mental disorders. Beck has enjoyed widespread success and professional recognition. He was the only person, as of 2004, to have received research awards from both the American Psychological Association and the American Psychiatric Association. His honors include the Sarnat Award from the Institute of Medicine (2003), the Heinz Award for the Human Condition from the Heinz Foundation (2001), and honorary doctorates from Brown University and Assumption College (1995). An article that appeared in a French Canadian psychiatric journal in 2002 named Beck as one of ten individuals who "have changed the face of American psychiatry." He has also been listed as one of the five most influential psychotherapists since Sigmund Freud.
Beck's cognitive therapy may be categorized as a variant of constructivism, a term that...
(The entire section is 17782 words.)