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Famous Psychologists - Aaron Beck

Famous Psychologists: Aaron Beck

Famous Psychologists - Aaron Beck

Aaron Temkin Beck (born July 18, 1921) is an American psychiatrist and a professor emeritus at the department of psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania. Beck is known as the father of cognitive therapy and inventor of the widely used Beck Depression Inventory (BDI), Beck Hopelessness Scale, and Beck Anxiety Inventory (BAI).

Aaron Beck

The following information has been adapted from the Wikipedia: Aaron Beck website.

Aaron Beck was born in Providence, Rhode Island on July 18, 1921 as the youngest child of his three siblings. Beck’s parents came over from Russia as Jewish immigrants. Beck’s birth followed the death of his sister to an influenza epidemic. After her daughter’s death, Beck’s mother became severely depressed; this depression was lifted when Beck was born. Beck claimed this is where his need for control rooted itself. Beck had feelings of stupidity and incompetence after a near fatal illness caused from an infection from a broken arm. However, Beck taught himself how to work through his fears and problems cognitively; this is what sparked the development of his theory and therapies in later years.

Beck attended Brown University, graduating magna cum laude in 1942. At Brown he was elected a member of the Phi Beta Kappa Society, was an associate editor of the Brown Daily Herald, and received the Francis Wayland Scholarship, William Gaston Prize for Excellence in Oratory, and Philo Sherman Bennett Essay Award. Beck attended Yale Medical School, graduating with an M.D. in 1946. Beck received a Lasker Clinical Research Award in 2006.

Beck is the director of the Center for the Treatment and Prevention of Suicide.  Beck believed that depression is due to negative views. He believed that these negative views were towards the self, world, and future in particular. These negative views are "idiosyncratic." Depressed people say things like "I can't do my job" or "Nobody cares about me." These negative views would in turn trigger depression in a person.

He is noted for his research on psychotherapy, psychopathology, suicide, and psychometrics, which led to his creation of cognitive therapy, for which he received the 2006 Lasker award, and the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI), one of the most widely used instruments for measuring depression severity. Beck is also known for his creation of the Beck Hopelessness Scale and the Beck Anxiety Inventory, and has founded the Beck Institute in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in which his daughter Judy works. Beck believed that depression is due to unrealistic negative views about the world. Depressed people have a negative cognition in three areas that are placed into the depressive triad. They develop negative views about: themselves, the world, and their future. Beck starts treatment by engaging in conversation with clients about their negative thoughts.

Additional Information

For more information about Aaron Beck and mental health treatment, please click on the websites listed below.

Beck Institute for Cognitive Therapy and Research
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