Dr. Andras Angyal

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I would like to know more about the work of Dr. Andras Angyal, about his holistic approach of therapy, maybe a review of his theory.

-- kris csik (kriscsik@yahoo.com), July 17, 2001


He was a personality theorist, typically grouped with Rogers, Maslow, Perls, and other humanistic psychologists. His major works were _Foundations for a Science of Personality_ (Harvard, 1941; reprinted Viking, 1972), and _Neurosis and Treatment: A Holistic Theory_ (J. Wiley, 1965).

There is a brief description of him on the web site of one Dean Palmer in Monash, Australia (http://www-personal.monash.edu.au/~dpalmer/scholars.htm). There also seem to be some letters of his to Adolf Meyer in the Johns Hopkins Medical Archives (http://www.med.jhu.edu/medarchives/sgml/AMG-AC.htm)

-- Christopher Green (christo@yorku.ca), July 20, 2001.

[Forwarded for EMS by cdg.]

Angyal was born in Hungary in 1902 and died of a sudden heart attack in his adopted city of Boston in 1960. He began to study medicine in Italy, but got diverted to an interest in psychology. Angyal received a Ph.D. from the University of Vienna, and then returned to Italy to complete his MD. He and Alice emigrated from Europe in the 1940's. He came to Worcester State Hospital to do research on schizophrenia and consulted with the Rand Foundation at Yale University on their alcoholism studies. Incidentally, Andras was most taken by the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous, and if you look carefully enough at his work, you'll find significant tracings of that approach in his psychotherapy. Beyond Worcester, he and Alice moved to Boston and to private practices. He went through didactic analysis from Mrs. Izette deForest, an American student of Sandor Ferenczi. It was Mrs. deForest who referred me to Andras during my undergraduate days. The Angyals were close friends with Edward Bibring, MD (both classical analysts) and Abraham Maslow.

Andras was an important resource to Abe Maslow. For one, he had created a holistic methodology of therapy, published in many articles (some appearing in Psychiatry: The Journal of the Washington School of Psychoanalysis) A posthumous book by Angyal edited by E. Hanfmann and R. M. Jones, both of Brandies University was published in 1965 by John Wiley entitled Neurosis and Treatment: A Holistic Approach. It consisted of the edited notes Angyal used in the graduate seminars that Abraham Maslow arranged for him at Brandies and Harvard Universities.

Angyal had much earlier published a book seen by some as the pioneering source of personality theory titled Foundations for a Science of Personality and published by the Commonwealth Fund in New York in the 1940's.

Angyal, who was sometimes called a Gestaltist, at other times an eclectic, preferred to be seen as a theorist in his own right. He was largely influenced du Kurt Goldstein and borrowed the term holistic from the "wholistic" of Jan Smuts, a psychologist and once Prime Minister of the Union of South Africa. Angyal saw the person as the product of two trends: 1) toward autonomy and 2) toward homonomy. While the former may be self-explanatory, the second moved away from self-assertiveness, freedom and personal mastery to the project of seeing oneself in a larger unit, greater than self -- in which the individual becomes integrated into superindividuality. Superindividuality may be coupledom, the person within a project that involves many, a committed friendship, etc. Incidentally, I was asked by Angyal, because of my own interest in religion to attend a lecture at the Boston University School of Theology on the integration of religion and psychology -- not a science of religion, but an integration. Angyal was more than likely accused of being a Gestaltist because he saw all building blocks - those leading to autonomy and those to homonomy as the very same. Figure and ground might change places. But then again think of the AA policy which always sees the individual as an alcoholic, but transforming the trend to drink to a trend to helpless participation with community.

This is such a thumbnail sketch. I have written several articles on Angyal and have referred to him in others. So has the late (recently died) Willard Frick, Ph.D., retired from Albion College. You'll need to do a search. For a time an Andras Angyal Association began to hold yearly meetings sometime after his untimely death.

Sadly Andras died just enough prior to the humanistic revolution in psychology that he missed out in participating in The Journal of Humanistic Psychology. He was very involved in the aesthetic moment, sometimes called by Maslow peak experience.

-- E. Mark Stern (Dremstern@aol.com), July 20, 2001.

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