Essential Women in the History of Psychology

Essential Women in the History of Psychology

Whether you study this career or are simply passionate about the human mind, you should know some of the most important women in the history of psychology.

Whether you study this career or are simply passionate about the human mind, you should know some of the most important women in the history of psychology.

Psychology is one of the scientific areas that has grown the most over the years. It does not matter if you are more interested in the behaviorist or psychoanalytic branch, because in any of them you will always find historical personalities that have provided many concepts and tools that serve to better understand the human mind.

Usually, the first names that come to mind are men: Sigmund Freud, Jean Piaget, or Jacques Lacan are some of the best known. However, in history, there have also been many women who contributed greatly to the theory of psychoanalysis. Let's meet the most important ones.

Brenda Milner

Born on July 15, 1918, in the United Kingdom and now 102 years old, she is one of the most important psychologists in history. When she was born, it was believed that psychology was moral and non-scientific knowledge. Well, she was one of the first to demonstrate that neuronal functions could affect people's lives.

Milner was the founder of neuropsychology, which related the physiology of the brain to its influence on human behaviors and gave it a much more scientific perspective. Her most famous research discovered that there are several types of learning and memory, each depending on a different part of the brain. 

Virginia Satir

This woman was born in the United States in 1916 and died in 1988. Specializing in intrafamily relationships, Satir became widely known as one of the promoters of family therapy, especially as a result of the "Virginia Satir change process model", developed through clinical studies and still in use today.

What we know today as Systemic Family Therapy comes as a result of her research, where she concluded that people have a capacity for community transformation. Her approach allows working on the actions, emotions, and perceptions of each household in an intimate approach, which allows solving family problems.

Karen Horney

This woman belongs to the foundational stage of psychoanalysis since she was a German woman who was born in 1885 and died in 1952. At the time, she was able to oppose some of the most popular ideas of that time, where Sigmund Freud's vision predominated, which stated that there were differences between men and women according to biological factors.

Horney was the pioneer of the feminist approach to psychoanalysis at that time, she mentioned that differences existed, but they were due to cultural and social factors. She herself generated her own theory of neurosis, where she mentioned that there are three types of personalities: the complacent or submissive, the aggressive or expansive, and the isolated and resigned.


Melanie Klein

Of Austrian origin, Melanie Klein was born in 1882 and died in 1960. She was one of the most important psychoanalytic personalities in the therapeutic orientation, more specifically in what is currently known as "Play Therapy," which gave rise to the Kleinian school.

Also, founder of the English school of psychoanalysis, she focused her studies on young children and child psychoanalytic theory. She had many theoretical discussions with Sigmund Freud, especially when addressing some positions in relation to schizo-paranoid themes.

Mary Ainsworth

Finally, we cannot fail to mention the American Mary Ainsworth, who was born in 1913 and died in 1999. She is well known for creating the Attachment Theory, which indicates that emotional ties generate bonds throughout life and in different situations, such as with parents, friends, partners, or children.

A pioneer in developmental psychology, she studied the behavior of infants in the "strange situation," which determines the interaction between parents and children by emulating different types of situations. She was able to determine the behavior that both have in relation to their bonds.

As you can see, there are many important women in the history of psychology, we hope you found them interesting!

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