George W. Albee

George W. Albee was born in 1921 and grew up in Saint Mary's Pennsylvania. He graduated from Bethany College, West Virginia, in 1943, spent three years in the Air Force, and in 1946 entered graduate school at the University of Pittsburgh. That fall he was among the first trainees in the nation appointed to the new Veterans Administration Clinical Psychology Program. He received his PhD in August 1949 and spent the next two years in a research appointment at Western Psychiatric Institute.

In 1951, Albee went to Washington to work for the APA as assistant executive secretary. Fillmore Sanford, Jane Hildreth, Margaret Harlow, and Albee were the entire APA professional staff at a time when APA occupied seven rooms in the old AAAS building. Albee was in charge of the placement office, public information, and public relations. He started the Employment Bulletin and hired Michael Amrine, an experienced science writer, to run the press room at the 1952 convention. Albee and Amrine, who stayed on for 17 years, collaborated in numerous public information projects.

In the fall of 1953, Albee went to Finland for a year on a Fulbright Professorship at Helsinki University. He returned to be an associate professor at Western Reserve University (WRU) in Cleveland, Ohio. He was named professor in 1956 and in 1958 became the George Trumbull Ladd Distinguished Professor of Psychology.

During his 16 years at WRU, Albee chaired the department on three occasions and was director of the clinical program. Ellen Lane, Albee, and their students published a lengthy series of studies on childhood intellectual development in adult schizophrenics. Albee and Marguerite Dickey published the first study of human resources in the mental health professions.

On leave in 1957, Albee served as director of the Task Force on Manpower of the Joint Commission on Mental Illness and Health. The book he wrote as a report on the nation's mental health human resources shortages was a major factor in redirecting national strategy in intervention. The work of the commission led to the development of the community mental health centers. Nicholas Hobbs called Albee's book one of the three most significant of the decade in the field.

In 1963, for his Ohio Psychological Association Presidential Address, he produced his "Declaration of Independence for Psychology." He called for the establishment of psychological centers for training and for service delivery by psychologists, and he attacked the medical model imposed on psychology students. He was recalled to service by President Carter and served as coordinator of the Task Panel on Prevention of the President's Commission on Mental Health (1977—1978). Rosalynn Carter attended the prevention task panel meetings and urged more focus on prevention at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).

By the mid-1960s, Albee was in a continuing, often acrimonious debate with psychiatry over the inappropriateness of the illness model of mental and emotional disorder and over medical hegemony. Albee's involvement in this debate continues, with clinical psychology also becoming a target of his wrath for devoting so much of its resources to one-to-one intervention in mental disorder rather than to prevention.

Albee has been active in the affairs of APA for more than four decades, and he received APA's Distinguished Professional Contribution Award in 1975. He served at various times as program chair of the APA annual convention; as a participant in the Miami, Chicago, Vail, and Utah clinical training conferences; as a member of the Board of Professional Affairs and the Ethics Committee; and (on numerous occasions) as a member of the Council of Representatives. He was president of Division 12 (Clinical) in 1966—1967 and president of APA in 1969—1970. He has also served on and chaired innumerable APA committees, including the Commission on the Composition of Council that established the current voting system that guarantees one vote per person.
Albee also served on the American Board of Professional Psychology and the board of the American Psychological Foundation (president, 1979—1980). He was a founding member of the American Psychological Society (1988) and an organizer and first president (1989) of the American Association for Applied and Preventive Psychology.

In 1971, Albee moved to the University of Vermont, where he established, in 1975, the Vermont Conference on the Primary Prevention of Psychopathology (VCPPP). Through 1993, VCPPP has held 17 conferences bringing together researchers, policymakers, and implementers of prevention programs throughout the world. VCPPP has become one of the world's leading forums for stimulating discussion and disseminating information on all aspects of the prevention of psychopathology. The books resulting from the conferences, many of which Albee has coedited, have helped shape the field and define its agenda.

A number of related themes have been interwoven in Albee's writing and lecturing over the years, constituting the heart of the message he has tirelessly carried across the American continent and around the world, from England to Australia, Hawaii to Hong Kong, Portugal to Pakistan. Major theses of his talks and writings are that social evils like racism, sexism, ageism, unemployment, child abuse–indeed every condition in which inequalities of power prevail and exploitation results–are responsible for far more psychopathology than twisted molecules; that mental and emotional disorders are too prevalent for any society to provide sufficient practitioners to treat the afflicted; and that consequently the most effective and humane way to reduce human suffering is through primary prevention. Albee has enlisted many in his fight for empowerment and prevention. As the colleagues who organized a festschrift in honor of his retirement wrote, "[We] have also been invited along with George–to write articles and books, to plan conferences, to kill and dress chickens that were no longer layers, and in myriad other ways to walk with him in his path and to see the world through his lenses: a world free from exploitation and domination of one group by another, a world in which each person has the freedom and the resources to develop her or his resoruces to the fullest, a world in which the highest goal would be one person's concern and regard for others. ... [W]ith George's invitation comes the unwritten command to fight the good fight, to smite the unrighteous, to educate the Philistines–with energy, commitment, and enthusiasm."

American Psychologist, July 1993 Vol. 48, No. 7, 717-725


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