University of Vermont

The College of Arts and Sciences

Department of Psychological Science

Heinz Ansbacher

Heinz Ansbacher

Heinz Ansbacher (1904-2006)
Emeritus Professor

At UVM 1946-1970
  • Ph.D. Columbia University, 1937

A Brief History

Heinz was born in Frankfort, Germany on October 21, 1904. After completing high school Heinz worked in a brokerage firm. He immigrated to the U.S. via steamer to Spain, Cuba and Mexico, working as a dishwasher. Upon arrival in New York he resumed his career in the financial business.

In the evening, he attended lectures of Alfred Adler. At one point he went to see Adler for a personal consultation, concerning his unhappiness in work and with a relationship having ended. After some discussion Adler suggested he must go to graduate school, saying this was the only way to get ahead and be satisfied.

Heinz attended seminars in Adler's home, sparking his interest in psychology. At lunch with Adler, he met Rowena Ripin, who had her doctoral degree from the University of Vienna. They were married a year later. Without a bachelors degree, Heinz was admitted to the doctoral program at Columbia University. Heinz did his doctoral dissertation on the perception of number as affected by the monetary value of objects, under R.S. Woodward, graduating in 1937. This work concerning the importance of context was cited in the 1939 American Psychological Association Presidential Address.


Back (L-R): Andrews, Finger, Verplanck, Hunt, Pfaffmann, Graham, Lindsley,

Bare, Berry, Stone, Schlosberg

Front: Tennant, Carson,Hunter, Bartlett, Henry, Ansbacher, Solomon

After receiving his degree, he was on the faculty of Brown University from 1940 through 1943 where he worked for Walter S. Hunter as an editor for Psychological Abstracts. Following this, he worked for the Office of War Information writing air-drop leaflets to convince German Soldiers to give up the war effort. In addition, he wrote some papers on German military Psychology. He came to the University of Vermont in 1947.

Heinz at 97
Heinz at his 97th birthday party

India House Restaurant, Burlington

In 1958, Heinz took over the editorship of The Individual Psychology News and renamend the periodical the Journal of Individual Psychology - much to the satisfaction of Adlerians outside the USA. As editor until 1974, it maintained high academic standards and was devoted to "a holistic, phenomenological, teleological, field theoretical, and socially oriented approach to psychology and related fields" endeavoring to "continue the tradition of Alfred Adler`s Individual Psychology". Heinz and Rowena both worked directly with Alfred Adler as scholars and editors and are considered among the leading early followers of the Adlerian school of thought. Their major contribution, The Individual Psychology of Alfred Adler (1954), is still the definitive text on Individual Psychology and is still in print today, 45 years after it's publication. He and Rowena published Superiority and Social Interest in 1964 and Cooperation Between the Sexes in 1978. Heinz has said his collaboration with Rowena was the thing that really made the work so successful. They were jointly awarded the degree of Doctor of Letters, Honoris Causa by UVM in 1980.

Rowena Ripin Ansbacher and Heinz Ludwig Ansbacher
Official Doctors of Letters Citation (1980)

Presented by Richard E. Musty

As a couple and as a team, Heinz L. and Rowena R. Ansbacher are credited with major contributions to the understanding of the principles of Viennese psychologist Alfred Adler. Together they have given over 50 years of service to the University of Vermont.

Rowena Ripin was born in New York and received her bachelor's degree at Barnard College of Columbia University in 1927. During a visit to Europe with her family the following year, she took an interest in the psychological theory and practice of Adler, and, at Adler's suggestion, studied with Karl and Charlotte Bukler at the University of Vienna. Her 1929 dissertation demonstrated that bottle-fed infants responded to the person presenting the bottle earlier than to the bottle itself. The work was a forerunner of discoveries in the 1960s which recognized the organization of developing perception in the human infant.

Heinz L. Ansbacher was born in Germany, attended school in Frankfurt, and held a variety of jobs; as a dishwasher on a steamship and a clerk in a stock brokerage firm. In New York, he met Alfred Adler at Columbia University, where he attended Adler's lectures and sought his advice. Heinz Ansbacher and Rowena Ripin met at a lunch with Adler. They were married in 1934. He attended Columbia University and received his Ph.D. degree in 1937. Before joining the UVM faculty in 1946, Heinz worked as an editor of "Psychology Abstracts," saw war-time service as a civilian psychologist with the Navy and taught briefly at Brooklyn College and Duke University. In 1954 he taught at the University of Kiel (Germany) under a Fulbright Fellowship.

Together, Heinz and Rowena have published extensively, particularly on Adler and Adlerian psychology. For many years they edited the "Journal of Individual Psychology," and have co-authored such works as "The Individual Psychology of Alfred Adler." "Superiority and Social Interest," and "Cooperation Between the Sexes: Writings on Women, Love, and Marriage, Sexuality and Its Disorders," a major contemporary view of Adlerian theory concerning the social basis of love, marriage and sexuality.

Rowena R. Ansbacher has organized a highly successful series of workshops on Adlerian Theory and Practice, held during the summer on the UVM campus. The series will celebrate its tenth anniversary this year


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