Women's Intellectual Contributions to the Study of Mind and Society

Students, as part of an advanced seminar, examined and wrote about the lives of these women, their intellectual contributions, and the unique impact and special problems that being female had on their careers.

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Ruth Brunswick

Ruth Jane Mack Brunswick was born in Chicago, the only child of Julian William And Jessie (Fox) Mack on February 17, 1897. Her parents were Americans of German-Jewish roots. She had a chaotic relationship with her strict father. Virtually nothing is known about her relationship with her mother. Ruth was educated irregularly but early became unusually well versed in literature, music, and the arts (James, et al., 1971). She graduated from Radcliffe College in 1918 under the tutelage of Elmer Ernest Southard, a Harvard's eminence who introduced her into the intrinsic world of psychology. Rejected from Harvard because of her gender, Ruth Brunswick went to Tufts Medical School were she finally received her M. D. Cum Laude in 1922. She married a cardiologist named Hermann Ludwig Blumgart in 1917. They were divorced by 1924. Her second try was Mark Brunswick, a composer, who also resulted in divorce (McHenry, 1980).

Her most fascinating period as a psychologist took place in Vienna where she was psychoanalyzed by Sigmund Freud. Later she became an intimate member of Freud's circle of psychoanalysts where she played an important role as a mediator between American analysts and Freud's circle (James, et al., 1971). Dr. Ruth Brunswick had a place in Freud's life which few if any of his biographers have noted (Freeman & Strean, 1987). She became her favorite collaborator, and both were inseparable. Anna Freud herself expressed her discontent (and jealousy) to Dr. Brunswick's privileges in Freud's researches. For years, rumors of their fierce rivalry flooded the psychoanalyst's circle. This rivalry was exacerbated when Freud gave his most important case study to Dr. Brunswick, the "wolf-man" which Anna was also expecting to have.

Dr. Brunswick was charm, intelligent, feminine, and vivacious (James, et al., 1971). Her generosity drove her to help many of her friends to leave Austria once the Nazis invaded it. She also had to leave Vienna to save her own life. Dr. Brunswick pioneered the psychoanalytic treatment of psychoses, and the study of emotional development between young children and their mothers, and the importance of this relationship in creating mental illness. Dr. Brunswick was suffering from a gastrointestinal illness that led her to overuse painkillers and other drugs. By 1933, she developed a total dependency on opiates. She died in New York on January 24, 1946, as a result of falling in the bathroom while intoxicated with opiates. The American Journal of Psychoanalysis only wrote that "She had a sudden tragic death" (Freeman & Strean, 1987).


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