Mussar and the Jewish Origins of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
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Mussar and the Jewish Origins of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Rachael Rosner, PhD
Nancy Sinkoff, PhD

Monday, April 2, 2018, at 7:00 PM
Wilde Auditorium, Harry Jack Gray Center

What do Aaron Beck (b. 1921), the founder of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Mendel Lefin of Satanow (1749-1826), an enlightened Jew who was supported by the Polish Czartoryski family, and Benjamin Franklin, an American founding father, natural scientist, and freemason have in common?

This talk will explore unusual connections between Franklin and the world of East European Jewry and American psychology. All three figures innovated methods for treating the "soul" or "psyche" through a daily regiment of cognitive and behavioral scrutiny. Their weekly grids, published in French, Hebrew, and English, bear an uncanny resemblance to one another. Could it be that all three thinkers were influenced by psychological, moral, and ethical ideas originating in eighteenth-century Poland and Ukraine?

Rachael Rosner is a Boston-based historian and psychologist. Earning her PhD in Psychology from York University, Canada, she also completed a 3-year National Science Foundation Post-Doctoral Fellowship in the Department of the History of Science at Harvard University. A specialist in the history of 20th-century American psychotherapy, she is currently writing the first comprehensive biography of Aaron T. Beck, the founder of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, tentatively titled *In Beck’s Basement: Aaron T. Beck and the Emergence of Cognitive Therapy* (under contract with Oxford University Press).

Nancy Sinkoff is Associate Professor of Jewish Studies and History at Rutgers University-the State University of New Jersey. Holding a PhD from Columbia University, she is a specialist in the history of the Jews of Poland and author of *Out of the Shtetl: Making Jews Modern in the Polish Borderlands* (Brown Judaic Studies, 2004). Dr. Sinkoff consulted for the "Encounters with Modernity" gallery in *Polin: Museum of the History of Polish Jews*. As the Elizabeth and J. Richardson Dilworth Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study (2016-2017), she is completing *From Left to Right: Lucy S. Dawidowicz, the New York Intellectuals, and the Politics of Jewish History* (under contract with Wayne State University Press).

Seating is limited, to reserve your space please contact us by phone at 860.768.5018 or e-mail at

Lecture made possible by the University of Hartford’s Psychology Department and Maurice Greenberg Center for Judaic Studies, and co-sponsored by the UCONN Center for Judaic Studies and Contemporary Jewish Life.

Wilde Auditorium is located the Harry Jack Gray Center at the University of Hartford.

The Harry Jack Gray Center is number 15 on the campus map. You can park in Lot D or Lot K.

  • From Lot D, the Wilde Auditorium main entrance will be down the ramp on your right as you approach the building between building 16 and 17; once inside, Wilde Auditorium will be on your left.
  • From Lot K, if you enter the 1877 Club entrance (upper-right corner of the upside down "U" shape), you can take the elevator on your right to the lower level (LL). As you exit the elevator, turn left and follow the hallway to Wilde Auditorium.
  • From Lot K, if you enter the Wilde Auditorium upper entrance (right-hand side of the upside down "U" shape), you can take the stairs down to the bottom floor and turn left.