Saul Rosenzweig, 97, professor emeritus in Arts & Sciences

Saul Rosenzweig, Ph.D., professor emeritus of psychology in Arts & Sciences and an internationally recognized expert on psychoanalysis, died Monday, Aug. 9, 2004, in St. Louis. He was 97.

Rosenzweig earned a doctorate from Harvard College in 1932 and was a friend and classmate of B.F. Skinner. He became affiliated with Worcester State Hospital and Clark University before becoming the chief psychologist at the Western State Psychiatric Institute.

He made his mark on the field in the 1930s with a publication outlining common factors underlying a range of popular and competing approaches to psychotherapy. He dismissed the contentious contemporary arguments about which approach was most effective, arguing that all methods of therapy — when competently used — could be equally successful.

His premise became known as the “Dodo Bird Hypothesis” — a reference to Lewis Carroll’s 1865 book, Alice in Wonderland, in which a dodo bird declares: “Everybody has won and all must have prizes.”

Rosenzweig joined Washington University in 1948 and remained active in teaching and research here for more than a half-century. He retired in 1975, but continued conducting research with postgraduate students until shortly before his death. His last paper, an autobiographical summary of his life and work, is published in the current Journal of Personality Assessment.

His professional work included such diverse areas as experimental social psychology, psychoanalysis frustration theory, and the idiodynamic approach to human behavior. With more than 200 articles and books to his credit, he remains an important figure in the history of psychology.

Rosenzweig spent much of his career exploring the experimental, clinical and historical aspects of aggression, including his creation of the Rosenzweig Picture-Frustration Study, a test to measure latent hostility. The test is popular in Europe and the former Soviet Union and was featured in Stanley Kubrick’s movie, A Clockwork Orange.

In 1970, he penned a letter calling for establishment of an International Society for the Study of Aggression. Noting that neither the United Nations nor the field of psychology could define aggression, he urged scientists worldwide to join in the effort to understand this difficult human problem. Colleagues responded enthusiastically, and Rosenzweig became founding director of the new society.

Rosenzweig carried on correspondence with major thinkers of the 20th century, including Sigmund Freud. His Washington University course on Freudian psychology was popular with generations of students. Rosenzweig used Freud’s travel diary and other sources previously unavailable to write a well-received book about Freud’s 1909 visit to America. The New York Times described the 1992 book as “an extraordinary rich and absorbent account of Freud’s only American trip that reveals unexpected patterns in the history of both psychoanalysis and American psychology.”