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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

A Psychobiography of Philip Brickman: The Life, Work, and Human Concerns of a Social Psychologist
by Wegner, Benjamin Robert, Psy.D., The Chicago School of Professional Psychology, 2020, 166; 27834860
Abstract (Summary)

The social psychologist Philip Brickman (1943-1982) is most well-known for his foundational research on happiness, and his concept of the “hedonic treadmill.” Heretofore, no study has systematically analyzed his life and work. The present study originates such inquiry, employing the method of psychobiography to examine Brickman’s personal life, his research career, and the relationship between the two. The study accessed archival data from the 'Philip Brickman Papers', Brickman's personal archives located at the Northwestern University Archives, and conducted interviews with three people close to him: his sister, one of his daughters, and the psychologist Kenneth Gergen. From an interpretivist/social constructivist framework, the study situates Brickman's research in the history of psychology, traces the development of his personality across the life-span in a socio-historical context, and retrieves his original insights for contemplation. The study presents numerous findings, including: an analysis of Brickman's family of origin and early life as they relate to his social, emotional, and intellectual development; a contextualization of Brickman's professional trajectory; an analysis of the precipitating factors leading to his suicide at the age of 38; and an assessment of Brickman's legacy as a social psychologist. The study renders the links between Brickman’s research on happiness and his personal struggles, argues that Brickman had an indelible impact on both the field of psychology and the network of researchers with whom he was engaged, and articulates how Brickman’s "social psychology of human concerns" not only anticipated the themes of what became positive psychology, but envisioned a more dialectical mission for psychology, one that confronts both the negative and positive aspects of the human condition.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Larson, Paul
Commitee: Fogel, Ken
School: The Chicago School of Professional Psychology
Department: Clinical Psychology
School Location: United States -- Illinois
Source: DAI-B 81/12(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Clinical psychology
Keywords: Commitment, Hedonic treadmill, History of psychology, Brickman, Philip , Positive psychology, Psychobiography
Publication Number: 27834860
ISBN: 9798645472757
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