George Albee

George Albee

George Albee (1921-2006)
Emeritus Professor

At UVM 1971-1995
  • A.B. Bethany College, 1943
  • M.S. University of Pittsburgh, 1947
  • Ph.D. University of Pittsburgh, 1949



"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.

George Albee teaching
George Albee as teacher
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

Official Retirement Citation (1995)

George Albee has served the profession of psychology for forty-three years and the University of Vermont for nearly half that time. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Pittsburgh in 1949, served two years at the Western Psychiatric Institute at Pittsburgh, and then became assistant executive secretary of the American Psychology Association (APA) in 1951. In 1954 he moved to Western Reserve University, where he rose to an endowed chair as professor, served as department chair three times, and was director of the program in clinical psychology. He came to the University of Vermont in 1971 as professor of psychology, a position he has filled with distinction for twenty-one years.

Professor Albee's involvement in professional psychology has been extensive. At APA he served as a member of the Council numerous times, he was on the Board of Directors for over ten years, he was president of the Division of Clinical Psychology and president of the Association in 1969-70. He has served on and chaired more boards and committees than one would care to count, and has been president of the American Association for Applied and Preventive Psychology, as well as one of the founders of the American Psychological Society.

In 1958, while serving as director of the Task Force on Manpower of the Joint Commission on Mental Illness and Health, Professor Albee summarized the committee's findings in a report that profoundly af-fected the nature of mental health systems and led to the development of the Community Mental Health Center approach to the treatment of mental disorders. Since he wrote that report, Professor Albee has been an indefatigable, vocal, and articulate spokesperson for the field of primary prevention. In hundreds of papers and presentations he has argued that the only way to effectively treat mental health problems is to prevent them. He relentlessly points out that no mass disorder has ever been eradicated by treating affected individuals, and insists that one-on-one psychotherapy is equally ineffective in reducing the incidence of mental disorders.

Shortly after coming to the University of Vermont, Professor Albee established the Vermont Conference on Primary Prevention of Psychopathology, which has held sixteen national conferences at UVM. These conferences bring together researchers, policy makers, and implementers of prevention programs to focus on topical areas of central importance to mental health, including human development, sexuality, the environment, and AIDS. He has made the Vermont Conference one of the major national and inter-national resources for the dissemination of information on prevention.

Controversy seems to be what keeps Professor Albee going. Over the years he has taken on the medical establishment, psychiatry, and even psychology, arguing that we need a fundamental restructuring of goals and methods. He has fought tirelessly against policies he sees as growing from racism, sexism, ageism, and other "political pathologies." He sees these factors as the root cause of much of what we commonly class as mental illness.

As a teacher, Professor Albee has been an inspiration to his students. His lectures in Introductory Psychology are popular, and his courses in Abnormal Psychology and Primary Prevention are always overenrolled. He is the most sought after advisor in the department and spends countless hours with his students.


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