Famous Romanian Psychologists

Photo © Razvan Tulai

Psychology, as a distinct scientific field, has been introduced to Romania in 1893 by Eduard Gruber, but what seemed to be a promising start has been cut short in the 1970s by the former political regime. For almost 20 years, Romanian psychologists had to choose between giving up psychology (and perhaps reorienting towards philosophy and educational sciences) and practicing it in an underground manner. Psychology was re-instituted as an academic discipline in 1990 and step by step recovered. Nowadays, the new generations of psychologists are ready to take over and complete the works of their predecessors and also open new directions of research.

Regardless of the gap in the study of psychology in Romania, many Romanian psychologists and interdisciplinary scientists have contributed with their research to the development of psychology as a stand-alone field. Here is a list* of such scientists and their contributions:

Eduard Gruber (1861-1896) – He studied psychology with W. Wundt, in Leipzig, and returned to his native country to found the first Romanian laboratory for experimental psychology (1893). One of the first to study synesthesia (chromatic hearing).

Nicolae Vaschide (1874-1907) – Psychologist and psychiatrist, Nicolae Vaschide has done most of his research work in France, collaborating with A. Binet, Ed. Toulouse, H. Pieron and R. Meunier. Vaschide, Toulouse, and Pieron wrote “The technique of experimental psychology”. The Romanian psychologist researched dreams, sleep, attention, sensorial processes, and the psychophysical functions of the hand.

Constantin Ion Parhon (1874-1969) – Endocrinologist and neuropsychiatrist, wrote the very first treatise on endocrinology in 1909 in collaboration with M Goldstein. Both scientists are seen as the fathers of endocrinology worldwide. He also showed that the way endocrine glands function influences the speed and intensity of psychic processes.

Florian Stefanescu-Goanga (1881-1958) – He studied psychology in Leipzig, with W. Wundt, and his research on the affective tonality of colors has been published and translated for readers in Germany, France, former U.S.S.R., and the U.S.A. Stefanescu-Goanga has recensed, completed, and conformed the Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scale for the Romanian population.

Constantin Rădulescu-Motru (1892-1957) – Philosopher, psychologist, sociologist, dialectician, academician, playwright. Trained by W. Wundt and influenced by his theories on introspection, Radulescu-Motru developed his own version of personalism, in which the human being and its personality are seen as the goal of evolution in nature (the theory is called Energetic Personalism). Opened the Experimental Psychology course in Bucharest in 1897.

David Wechsler (1896-1981) – Although known as an American psychologist, David Wechsler was born in Romania, in Lespezi, and immigrated with his parents to the United States, where he studied at the City College of New York and Columbia University. He developed well-known intelligence scales, such as the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale (WAIS) and the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC).

Mihai Ralea (1896-1964) – A scientist with activities in fields like psychology, sociology, aesthetics, and history of universal literature. He founded the Romanian Psychologists’ Association.

Gheorghe Zapan (1897-1976)– An interdisciplinary scientist, and a former student of Albert Einstein. He conceived the objective estimation of personality.

Vasile Pavelcu (1900-1991) – Studied at Sorbonne and became the mentor of a distinct psychology school.

Liviu Rusu(1901-1985) – Psychologist, researcher, and an important figure in the field of esthetics and the history of literature.

Ştefan Odobleja (1902 – 1978) – Romanian scientist, one of the precursors of cybernetics. In 1938, he published “Psychologie consonantiste” (Paris), describing many cybernetic principles.

Nicolae Margineanu (1905 -1980) – He studied many fields of psychology, including psychometrics, the psychology of mathematics and science, and the link between literature and psychology. He used to discuss matters of psychology with important psychologists of the 20th century, such as Gordon Allport.

Alexandru Rosca (1906 -1996) – Psychologist, academician, and psychology teacher at the University in Cluj.

Paul Popescu-Neveanu (1921-1994) – Psychologist and psychopedagogist, wrote the Romanian “Psychology dictionary”.

Mircea Miclea (1963) – Former Minister of Education and Research (2004 – 2005 ), Mircea Miclea has coordinated many important pieces of research in the field of cognitive psychology.

Daniel David (1972) – The only Romanian accepted as a “Fellow” by the Academy of Cognitive Therapy (USA). He has been awarded the “Henry Guze Award” for the best clinical research in 2003, by the Society for Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis. Daniel David has founded a therapy school in Romania, in collaboration with the Albert Ellis Institute in New York. The first to introduce to Romania evidence-based psychodiagnosis/psychotherapy, evolutionary psychology, and genetic counseling and wrote the first Romanian treatise on cognitive-behavioral psychotherapy(CBT).

Other Romanian psychologists that contributed to the development of psychology in Romania and not only: Dumitru Ivana (founder of Szondi School in Romania), Aurel Romila (scientific coordinator of the “Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders”), Mielu Zlate, Mihai Golu (established the basic principles of cybernetic psychology), Nicolae Mitrofan, Ruxandra Rascanu, Irina Holdevici, Vasile Dem. Zamfirescu, Eugen Papadima (first Romanian psychoanalyst ), Vera Sandor (first Romanian Psychoanalyst to be a member of the International Psychoanalytical Association), Stefan Zweig, Constantin Enachescu, Leon Danaila (neurosurgeon), B. Zorgo, Eduard Pamfil (researches in the field of mental psychopathology), G. C.Bontila, G. Marinescu, etc.

*Chronological and to be completed in time.

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