The StayOnTop sidebar now has a daily refreshed “Today In History” item. Here, I preserve them all: so this page will gradually grow into an ever longer list of varied small historical facts of interest.

    To make this list into a kind of history, entries will be kept in chronological order here (by year).

    If you want to check for occurrences of a specific date, say “June 8”, use your browser’s in-page search: hit the Ctrl-F key combination and enter June 8 in the search box.
 

The List:

ConfuciusSeptember 28, 551 BC – Assumed birth date of Chinese philosopher Kǒng Qiū, better known as Confucius (Latin version of “Master Kong”).
   He developed a life philosophy strongly based on social, ethical behavior and virtues; his ideas still are the base of Confucianism today.
   Confucius was the first to formulate the Golden Rule of Reciprocity, with his saying “What you do not wish for yourself, do not do to others”.

Idealized portrait of Francis of AssisiSeptember 26, 1181 – Assumed birth date of Francis of Assisi, the Catholic saint (and patron of the animals) who founded the Franciscan Order.
   After a carefree youth, he devoted himself to a missionary life, with mystical visions but above all preaching peacefulness and an extreme, strict ideal of poverty.
   Modern explanations of his hectic life suggest Francis may have been suffering from (and driven by) bipolar disorder: trying to make sense of his depressed and manic episodes, within the religious context of the Middle Ages.

The Pied PiperJune 26, 1248 – Legend has it that on this day, a malicious rat-catcher (the “pied piper”) with his magical flute lured all 130 children of the German town of Hameln away to their death, leaving behind only three (a blind, a lame and a deaf child) who were unable to follow him.
   Many historians speculate that some real event must have originated this tale, but they differ greatly about what actually might have happened. Theories include a deadly pest outbreak, a children’s crusade, flight or emigration.
   Anyway, since the 13th century this fearful (and warning) horror story of the “Pied Piper of Hameln” would remain a strong part of popular lore.

Dancing Mania (after Brueghel)June 24, 1374 – The most notorious outbreak of dancing mania begins in Aachen.
   Dancing mania was a typical medieval kind of collective near-psychotic behavior. Suddenly huge numbers of people would flock to the streets and all dance and move uncontrollably for hours or days in a semi-conscious trance, until collapsing from exhaustion.
   Explanations for this intriguing phenomenon vary: mass psychogenic illness, mass hysteria? Escapism or social imitation? The brain effects of some viral infection?
   After the 17th century, no more outbreaks of dancing mania were reported.

ParacelsusSeptember 24, 1541 – Death of famous physician Paracelsus (Philip von Hohenheim, born in 1493, exact birth date unknown).
   Paracelsus is best known for his observation that whether something will work as a medicine or a poison, just depends from the dose.
   He also was the first physician ever to refer to the “unconscious”, when speculating that some illnesses might be caused by unconscious fantasies.

Girolamo FracastoroAugust 8, 1553 – Death of the Italian physician Girolamo Fracastoro (born ca. 1478). He was the world’s first contagious diseases expert.
   In his 1546 book On Contagion he developed the idea that some diseases might be transmitted by tiny airborne particles, and gave the first good description of typhus.
   His 1530 poem Syphilis sive morbus gallicus (“Syphilis or The French Disease”) was the source of the name “syphilis” for the sexually transmitted disease that at the time had just cropped up in Europe.

François de La RochefoucauldSeptember 15, 1613 – Birth date of French nobleman François de La Rochefoucauld, whose moralist sayings (Réflexions ou Sentences et Maximes morales) would become immensely popular.
   For centuries, so many people kept quoting him that today, many of his original maxims have lost their freshness: they’ve become dusty and stale.
   Examples: “One must listen if one wishes to be listened to”; or “Often our virtues are just vices in disguise”; or “One is never as happy or unhappy as one imagines”.
   Still, here is one that may well serve to characterize Facebook: “To succeed in the world, we do everything we can to appear successful already”.

Andreas GryphiusOctober 11, 1616 (also found as October 2, 1616) – Birth date of the prominent German writer Andreas Gryphius. In his plays he tried to be witty and funny, but in his poetry he often was morbid, somber, melancholic.
   The best known example of this is his 1656 poem collection Kirchhofsgedanken (“Cemetery Thoughts”).
   He personified the somewhat depressing Baroque theme of his times, that human life is little but ultimately pointless “vanity”.

Jeanne ManceOctober 8, 1645 – After having run a hospital informally for a few years in her own home, thanks to a grant of 6000 francs French nurse Jeanne Mance officially establishes the Hôtel-Dieu de Montréal as a hospital for the French colonial town of Montreal.
   This was the very first actual hospital in North America. The original buildings burnt down several times but as an institution it still exists in Canada today, as a part of the Montreal university’s medical department.

MolièreSeptember 22, 1665 – Premiere of the comedy L’Amour Médecin (“The Love Doctor”) by the famous French playwright Molière (Jean-Baptiste Poquelin). King Louis XIV was the first to see it.
   It was about a girl who gets very depressed because she isn’t allowed to marry; her father calls in several doctors to diagnose and cure her depression.
   With biting sarcasm, Molière portrayed the doctors of those times as a bunch of ignorant, quarreling, incompetent charlatans.
   In an happy end, he suggested that when depression is caused by unfulfilled love, only marrying will solve the problem.

Salem Witch TrialsJuly 12, 1680 – Birth of Abigail Williams, who as an 11-year-old girl in the Massachusetts town of Salem would develop symptoms of manic, psychotic behavior (together with her 9-year-old cousin Betty Parris).
   When Abigail claimed to have been bewitched, this led to mass hysteria culminating in the notorious 1692-1693 Salem Witch Trials: over 150 people were arrested and 20 of them were executed for being witches.

Tsar Peter ISeptember 5, 1698 – In an effort to “civilize” the Russian upper classes, Tsar Peter I (Peter the Great) tries to end the custom of men wearing beards by introducing a Beard Tax.
   Noblemen and officials (excepting clergy and peasants) who insisted on keeping their beard, were required to pay an annual Beard Tax of 100 rubles, and to carry a special coin as proof they had paid it.
   Now here’s a brilliant idea – which modern despot will be the first to introduce a Tattoo Tax?

Jonathan SwiftOctober 19, 1745 – Irish satirist Jonathan Swift, famous for his 1726 Gulliver’s Travels, dies after some years of terrible physical and mental health problems. He himself had been very afraid of going insane, and many thought this was indeed what had happened.
   In his will, Swift left most of his fortune to found a mental hospital. He expressly stipulated that this should be built not in some isolated place (like many “asylums” at that time) but should be situated next to a general hospital, because of the relations between physical and mental illness.
   The mental health institution that was founded with Swift’s legacy still exists in Dublin today, as St. Patrick’s Hospital.

August 28, 1749 – Birth date of German writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. As a young man, he became famous with his 1774 novel Die Leiden des jungen Werthers (often translated wrongly as “The Sorrows of young Werther”: in fact it means “The Sufferings of young Werther”).
   The book told the story of Werther who becomes infatuated with a girl who already has another friend. After the girl and her friend turn out to have married, Werther chooses to kill himself.
   The Werther story not just became hugely popular: this was the first book that caused a wave of “copycat suicides”. Several adolescent readers, emotionally identifying themselves with the fictional main character, did actually follow his example.

Mary WollstonecraftApril 27, 1759 – Birth date of Mary Wollstonecraft, author of A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792) and one suicide note (1795). She tried to kill herself twice, but died in 1797 from childbirth complications.

The rebuilt Williamsburg AsylumOctober 12, 1773 – In Williamsburg, Virginia, the first insane asylum in America is opened to accommodate “Persons of Insane and Disordered Mind”.
   Its successor still exists there today as the Eastern State Hospital.
   The original building burned down in 1885, but was later rebuilt to serve as a museum.

Thomas Story KirkbrideJuly 31, 1809 – Birth date of Thomas Story Kirkbride, the most prominent 19th-century American expert on mental health care institutions.
   Although trained as a surgeon, in 1840 he was made superintendent of the newly founded Pennsylvania Hospital for the Insane, where he kept working until his death in 1883. In 1854, he published an influential book on how to run “Hospitals for the Insane” and how to treat patients.
   The fact that he married one of his patients is often cited as proof that regarding people with mental problems, he was less prejudiced than many of his contemporaries.

Robert BrowningMay 7, 1812 – Birth date of the English poet Robert Browning, whose famous 1855 poem Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came can be interpreted as a striking evocation of a totally meaningless quest: wandering through the barren, horrifying landscape of a depressed mind.

Soren KierkegaardMay 5, 1813 – Birth date of the Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard, who in 1844 was one of the first to write a profound analysis of anxiety: The Concept of Anxiety. He argued that what we feel when standing on the edge of a cliff is not just fear of falling, but also fear because we have the option to jump: “Anxiety is the dizziness of freedom”.

Lord ByronJune 16, 1816 – A meeting of friends triggers the first modern literary expressions of horror. English poet Lord Byron challenges his guests: who could write the most nightmarish thing?
   As the result, Byron wrote the poem Darkness about the end of the world and the last human beings; guest Mary Shelley wrote the novel Frankenstein about a scientist who brings to life a monstrous artificial man; and guest John Polidori wrote the story The Vampyre about a charming stranger who turns out to kill people by sucking out their blood.

Gavrila DerzhavinJuly 20, 1816 – Death of the prominent Russian poet Gavrila Derzhavin. On his table, an unfinished poem is found:
   “The current of Time’s river
Will carry off all human deeds
And sink into oblivion
All peoples, kingdoms and their kings.
   And if there’s something that remains
Through sounds of horn and lyre,
It too will disappear into the maw of time
And not avoid the common pyre

   (broken off here)

Charles HastingsJuly 19, 1832 – In the English town of Worcester, Charles Hastings founds the first modern doctors’ association, the Provincial Medical and Surgical Association. Growing fast and soon renamed British Medical Association, it would unite and represent the medical profession in Britain.
   As one of its achievements, in 1858 the BMA pushed the introduction of a law that barred unqualified people from working as a doctor.

Samuel Taylor ColeridgeJuly 25, 1834 – Death of the English Romantic poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge, after a life full of recurring depressions and a severe opium addiction caused by his use of the opium derivate laudanum as medication for stress relief.
   Modern research indicates that Coleridge probably suffered from bipolar disorder, a condition that in his time was not yet properly understood or recognized.

Theodor FliednerOctober 13, 1836 – Lutheran pastor Theodor Fliedner and his wife Friederike open their “Deaconess Home and Hospital” in the German town of Kaiserswerth.
   Their innovative work aimed specifically at offering women a more modern and practical in-house training as nurses.
   One of their enthusiast students was Florence Nightingale, who in 1846 and 1851 stayed at Kaiserswerth and considered it her most inspirational example.

Abraham LincolnAugust 25, 1838 – The newspaper The Sangamo Journal in Springfield, Illinois, publishes an anonymous poem in the form of an emotional (but imaginary) suicide letter: “The Suicide’s Soliloquy”.
   Based on varied bits of secondary evidence, recent research indicates that the author of this poem was none other than future President Abraham Lincoln, expressing one of his frequent depressed moods.

Richard von Krafft-EbingAugust 14, 1840 – Birth date of the German psychiatrist Richard von Krafft-Ebing, who with his 1886 reference work Psychopathia Sexualis: eine Klinisch-Forensische Studie became the first influential sexologist.
   He extensively studied and interpreted what he himself considered “misdirected” behavior such as homosexuality, fetishism, sadism and pedophilia.
   His book was intended for professionals only (psychiatrists, judges etc.) and he wrote some parts of it in Latin to make the explicit contents inaccessible to the general public.

George WilliamsJune 6, 1844 – London draper George Williams founds the first YMCA (Young Men’s Christian Association), an organization which soon would branch out very successfully all over Europe and North America. Its primary goal was to counteract the bad moral effects that industrializing city life had on young people.
   It tried to do this by organizing many physical and social activities, all aimed at helping people to develop and maintain “a healthy spirit, mind, and body”. The YMCA is still active in many ways and many places today.

PorkSeptember 30, 1847 – In the British town of Ramsgate, some representants of the Christian temperance movement officially found a Vegetarian Society to “support, represent and increase the number of vegetarians in the UK”.
   Their organization (which still exists) was the very first of its kind in the world. In 1853, this original Vegetarian Society had nearly 900 members.

Ivan PavlovSeptember 14, 1849 – Birth date of Russian physiologist Ivan Pavlov, who in 1901 developed the theory of the “conditioned reflex”.
   A standard example from his experiments is the one with dogs that, when used to a bell or whistle at feeding time, would always start salivating when hearing that bell or whistle.
   With varied experiments like this (not just with dogs but also with children), Pavlov showed that by simple habitual association, we learn to react on recurring events in a fixed, predictable way.

Edgar Allan PoeOctober 3, 1849 – Mystery writer Edgar Allan Poe (40) is found lying in a delirious state in the gutter of a Baltimore street.
   He died in a hospital four days later, without having regained enough consciousness to explain what had happened to him.
   His death would remain an unsolved mystery forever, although many people suspected alcoholism may have been the principal cause.

Sigmund FreudMay 6, 1856 – Birth date of Sigmund Freud, the father of psychotherapy.
 
 

Charles BaudelaireJune 1, 1857 – French poet Charles Baudelaire publishes his famously decadent Les Fleurs du Mal (“The Flowers of Evil”). This controversial book popularized the use of the word “spleen” to indicate a mood of deeply bored melancholy.

Georges Gilles de la TouretteOctober 30, 1857 – Birth date of French physician and neurologist Georges Gilles de la Tourette. In 1884 he was the first to analyze a condition characterized by recurring involuntary tics. Named after him, this illness is still known today as “Tourette syndrome”.
   He also experimented with the use of hypnosis as a method in psychotherapy. In 1893 a hysterical female patient, falsely claiming to have been hypnotized against her will, shot him in the head.
   Tourette survived, but after this began to suffer from depressions and manic moods himself. In 1904 he died as a patient in a Swiss psychiatric institution.

Florence NightingaleJuly 9, 1860 – At St. Thomas Hospital in London, Florence Nightingale opens her Nightingale Training School and Home for Nurses, the world’s first modern nursing school. It was funded by a huge amount of public gifts she’d collected in the few years before.
   The institution does still exist today (as the Florence Nightingale School of Nursing & Midwifery, part of King’s College in London).

Alois AlzheimerJune 14, 1864 – Birth date of the German psychiatrist-neurologist Alois Alzheimer.
   Between 1901-1906, while working with patient Mrs. Auguste Deter (and after her death in 1906 dissecting her brain) he identified the aging-related kind of dementia which would become known as “Alzheimer’s disease”.

Old Red Cross posterAugust 22, 1864 – At a conference in Geneva, 16 countries adopt the Geneva Convention which implied the foundation of the International Committee of the Red Cross.
   That same year, Swiss surgeon Louis Appia and Dutch former marine lieutenant Charles van de Velde became the first two people to work officially under the neutral, independent symbol of the Red Cross.

Lightner WitmerJune 28, 1867 – Birth date of American psychologist Lightner Witmer.
   He was the one who in 1896 founded the world’s first Psychological Clinic, at the University of Pennsylvania. Initially his innovative clinic was intended mainly for studying and treating children with serious mood and behavior problems.
   Witmer was also the one who introduced and defined the term “clinical psychology”.

Theodore SimonJuly 10, 1872 – Birth date of French psychologist Théodore Simon, who together with Alfred Binet in 1905 would introduce the first standardized intelligence test: the Binet-Simon Intelligence Scale.
   Ironically, for the rest of his life (he died in 1961) Simon kept criticizing the excessive use of this kind of standard tests, warning that psychologists might look too much at test results instead of trying to really understand people.

Sandor FerencziJuly 7, 1873 – Birth date of Hungarian psychiatrist Sándor Ferenczi, one of the most important people in early (1900-1930) psychoanalysis.
   Unlike Freud, who wanted to be a neutral listener, Ferenczi pleaded for a more active, personal involvement of the therapist.
   He also was one of the first to consider that some patients’ stories of childhood sexual abuse might simply be true.

Carl Gustav JungJuly 26, 1875 – Birth date of the famous Swiss psychologist/psychiatrist Carl Gustav Jung, one of the primary founders of analytical psychology.
   Jung focused especially on the unconscious level in our mind, which unlike Freud he saw not primarily as a container of repressed elements, but also in a much wider sense as a source for positive feelings and experiences (such as religion).

Old ECT equipmentJune 7, 1880 – Birth date of the German psychiatrist and neurologist Friedrich Meggendorfer, who would start his career as assistant of the famous psychiatrist Emil Kraepelin.
   As a professor and head of a psychiatric institution in Erlangen, in 1939 Meggendorfer was the one who introduced the then-new ECT (electroshock therapy) in Nazi Germany.

Eduard SprangerJune 27, 1882 – Birth date of philosopher and psychologist Eduard Spranger, known for his 1914 book Lebensformen, also published as Types of Men. He discerned six primary types of people by their self-actualization focus:
   (1) the Theoretical, focused on knowledge and truth;
   (2) the Utilitarian, focused on achievements and gains;
   (3) the Aesthetic, focused on form and beauty;
   (4) the Social, focused on emotions and relationships;
   (5) the Political, focused on position and power;
   (6) the Religious, focused on unity and meaningfulness.
Decades later (in the 1950s) Spranger’s old typology would inspire some personality tests. So which one are you?

Edward HopperJuly 22, 1882 – Birth date of Edward Hopper, American realist painter.
   Between 1913 and his death in 1967, he made several paintings that (in my view, at least) belong to the top 100 of acute representations of loneliness and depression in modern society.
   For an example, see Automat.

D.H. LawrenceSeptember 11, 1885 – Birth date of English writer D.H. Lawrence, known for the uproar caused by his 1928 (for those times sexually explicit) novel Lady Chatterley’s Lover.
   I prefer to commemorate him for the touching way he tried to reflect on death and dying in his poem The Ship of Death, written when he was terminally ill, a few months before his death in 1930. Ending with the lines:
   Oh build your ship of death, oh build it!
   for you will need it.
   For the voyage of oblivion awaits you.

April 25, 1886 – Sigmund Freud opens his practice in two rented rooms at Rathausstrasse 7, Vienna.

May 8, 1886 – Atlanta pharmacist John Styth Pemberton begins selling his carbonated drink Coca-Cola, originally intended and advertised as a patent medicine for people suffering from “nervous prostration, irregularities of the stomach, bowels and kidneys, who require a nerve tonic and a pure, delightful diffusible stimulant”.

King Ludwig II of BavariaJune 13, 1886 –The eccentric King Ludwig II of Bavaria and his renowned psychiatrist, Bernhard von Gudden, are found dead at the shore of Lake Starnberg after they went together on an evening walk.
   Ludwig had been deposed a few days before; von Gudden had co-signed the official report declaring him mentally unstable and unfit to reign.
   What exactly happened remains a mystery. The most plausible theory speculates that Ludwig strangled the psychiatrist, and then drowned himself.

Victorian street urchinAugust 26, 1889 –
In Britain, on this date children became legally protected by law.
   The new 1889 Prevention of Cruelty to, and Protection of, Children Act (soon known as “Children’s Charter”) not just outlawed using children as beggars, but also tried to protect them from ill-treatment at home. For the first time, police officers were now formally allowed to intervene in families where children were thought to be in physical danger.
   Of course in the harsh reality of Victorian life, actual protection of children still had a long way to go.

Vincent van GoghJuly 29, 1890 – Painter Vincent van Gogh dies (age 37) in Southern France, two days after staggering back from the fields to his village inn with a gunshot wound in his chest.
   There are wild speculations about what happened (accident, murder?) but most experts still agree it is most likely that in a bout of depression, van Gogh shot himself – something he had discussed with his doctor shortly before.
   Some quote his brother (and faithful companion) Theo as having reported that van Gogh’s last words were “the sadness will last forever.”

H.P. LovecraftAugust 20, 1890 – Birth date of H.P. Lovecraft, who would become one of the most influential horror writers ever. He often used his own dreams and nightmares as a source of inspiration.
   During his life he remained fairly unknown; after his early death in 1937 it took until the 1950s before his work began to get the attention it deserved.

Guy de MaupassantJuly 6, 1893 – French writer Guy de Maupassant, famous for his short stories, dies (age 42) at a Paris asylum where he had been hospitalized after a suicide attempt the year before.
   Apart from his many works, Maupassant also left an epitaph he had written for himself: “I coveted everything, and took pleasure in nothing.

Alfred KinseyJune 23, 1894 – Birth date of Alfred Kinsey, a biologist who in 1947 founded the Indiana University Institute for Sex Research and became famous for his “Kinsey Reports”: the 1948 Sexual Behavior in the Human Male and the 1953 Sexual Behavior in the Human Female.
   Both taboo-breaking books became instant bestsellers and are considered milestones in the gradual development towards more openness and tolerance regarding sexual practices and preferences.

Joseph RothSeptember 2, 1894 – Birth date of Austrian-Jewish writer Joseph Roth, mainly known for his classic 1932 Radetzky March novel.
   But perhaps his very best work was the novella Die Legende vom heiligen Trinker (“The Legend of the Holy Drinker”) about an alcohol-addicted vagrant who tries in vain to fight his drinking habit.
   This was published posthumously in 1939 after Roth, in exile in Paris and a chronic alcoholist himself, had literally (and intentionally) drunk himself to death.

Sigmund FreudJuly 23, 1895 – This night, Sigmund Freud dreams about how Irma, a guest at his party, is unwell and has a strange rash in her mouth, and how he and some colleagues examine her at the spot to conclude that a wrong injection must have caused the symptoms.
   Freud wrote down this particular dream, and would use it as the starting point for his famous 1899 book Die Traumdeutung (“The Interpretation of Dreams”).

Jean PiagetAugust 9, 1896 – Birth date of Jean Piaget, the Swiss psychologist who developed a coherent view on how young children step-by-step develop themselves both socially and intellectually. His theories of cognitive development greatly influenced both child psychologists and education practices all over the world.
   Basically, Piaget’s views contributed to the tendency of a more child-centered approach in education: the aim of stimulating children to become creative individuals rather than conforming adults.

Felix HoffmannAugust 10, 1897 – Felix Hoffmann, a chemist working for the Bayer pharmaceutical company, for the first time successfully synthesizes a stable form of acetylsalicylic acid. This would become one of the most popular pain killers ever.
   Two years after Hoffmann’s discovery, Bayer began selling it under the name Aspirin, at first not yet in the form of pills, but as powder in a glass bottle.

William FaulknerSeptember 25, 1897 – Birth date of writer William Faulkner. Part of his famous 1929 novel The Sound and the Fury was about young Quentin Compson, who gradually sinks away in a deep depression, in the end killing himself.
   Faulkner described this in a style reflecting the mental disintegration: the language itself disintegrating into one rambling, continuous stream of incoherent thoughts.
   The resulting “depressed prose” may have helped him to get his Nobel Prize, but it is not easy to read.

Isabel Briggs MyersOctober 18, 1897 – Birth date of Isabel Briggs Myers. Together with her mother, Katharine Cook Briggs, in 1942 she developed a personality test that originally intended to help women find a wartime job best suited to their own personality.
   Based on the 1921 personality theories of psychiatrist Carl Gustav Jung, the test measured different combinations of extraversion/introversion, sensing/intuition, rationality/feeling, and judging/feeling (resulting in 16 theoretical base personalities).
   In the 1950s and 1960s, Briggs Myers further developed her formal Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). Although some modern researchers question its validity, this MBTI is still widely used for personality assessment today.

Jean-Paul SartreJune 21, 1905 – Birth date of the French existentialist and marxist writer-philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre.
   In his best known novel, La Nausée (“Nausea”, 1938) the bored, lonely, self-isolating main character can be considered a typical case of depression – a depression which according to Sartre is rooted in the essential, unexplainable facts of life.

Oskar SchindlerApril 28, 1908 – Birth date of Oskar Schindler, who managed to save about 1200 people from death during the Nazi occupation of Poland: the exceptional story that was reconstructed in the 1993 movie Schindler’s List. Typical for a beginning depression is when you think immediately: why was there only one Schindler?

Anna JarvisMay 10, 1908 – First official celebration of Mother’s Day in the USA, on the initiative of Anna Jarvis. It soon became a great success, but for the rest of her life Jarvis would protest against what she considered abusive commercialization of her idea: for one thing, she wanted people to send personal letters instead of using printed greeting cards.

Postcard of the steamer George WashingtonAugust 21, 1909 – In the German harbor of Bremen, three prominent psychiatrists board the Norddeutsche Lloyd steamship George Washington: Sigmund Freud, Karl Jung and Sándor Ferenczi.
   They were invited by Stanley Hall to give some lectures at Clark University. With this trip, they would present their modern views of psychoanalytic therapy in the Unites States.
   Rumor has it that when the ship arrived in New York, Freud said to Jung: “They don’t realize that we are bringing them the plague…”

Frederick RedlichJune 2, 1910 – Birth date of psychiatrist Frederick Redlich. With co-author August Hollingshead, he was the first to thoroughly research how the social background of psychiatric patients influenced the diagnosis and the treatment they were given (Social class and mental illness, 1958).

Sonora Smart DoddJune 19, 1910 – First celebration of Father’s Day, with a meeting organized by Sonora Smart Dodd in Spokane, whose father as a single parent had raised six children.
   Intended as the counterpart of the Mother’s Day initiative by Anna Jarvis two years before, Father’s Day would also soon become commercialized in the same way as a gift occasion.

Eduard EinsteinJuly 28, 1910 – Mileva Maric, wife of physicist Albert Einstein, gives birth to the couple’s second son: Eduard. He would prove to be an intelligent and talented boy, but at 20 he got psychical problems.
   Diagnosed with schizophrenia, since 1932 Eduard Einstein was frequently hospitalized in a Swiss psychiatric clinic, where he would remain permanently from 1948 to his death in 1965.
   According to his older brother, what really ruined Eduard was the overuse of therapies with too heavy medication and especially the intensive use of electroshocks.

Ralph GreensonSeptember 20, 1911 – Birth date of prominent American psychiatrist Ralph Greenson (died 1979).
   In World War II, he was one of the first to focus systematically on Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome in soldiers returning from the battle fields. Later, he published much on using psychoanalysis with borderline patients.
   Unfortunately, he became better known for his role as therapist of movie star Marilyn Monroe. In August 1962, he was the one who found her dead, and reported to the police.

Ruth CohnAugust 27, 1912 – Birth date of Ruth Cohn, who as a psychotherapist in the 1950s and 1960s developed theme-centered interaction (TCI), a kind of combined group therapy and group learning.
   In her view this solved several problems in one stroke because in classic single-person therapy, as she put it, “the couch was to small” and because in classic group teaching the human, personal dimension was missing.
   She originally introduced her TCI approach in the USA, but it became (and still is) much more popular in Europe.
   As an educator Cohn was known for her terse remarks, such as “Don’t analyze in a burning house”.

Margaret SangerOctober 16, 1916 – Activist nurse Margaret Sanger, worried about the large number of women who did not survive botched abortions, opens the first family planning and birth control clinic in the US.
   Nine days later, she was arrested for breaking a law that prohibited the distribution of contraceptives.
   Her subsequent trial and appeal generated much publicity that eventually helped the cause of preventing unwanted pregnancies by allowing contraception and better sexual education.

Humphry OsmondJuly 1, 1917 – Birth date of psychiatrist Humphry Osmond, who in 1951 began experiments to treat patients with hallucinogenic drugs (mescaline, LSD).
   In 1957, he was the one who introduced the word “psychedelic”.

Frank AydOctober 14, 1920 – Birth date of clinical psychiatrist Frank Ayd, one of the pioneers of modern medication use in psychiatric treatment (long retired, he died in 2008).
   In 1951-1952 Ayd was the first in America to experiment with the new antipsychotic drug Thorazine (chlorpromazine); later he was among the first to try out various antidepressants.
   He became an authority on the use of medication and in 1961 wrote the book Recognizing the depressed patient – with essentials of management and treatment.

Franz KafkaJune 3, 1924 – Death of Jewish-Czech author Franz Kafka, famous for the way he expressed feelings of horror and alienation in his 1915 novel Die Verwandlung (“The Metamorphosis”), about an ordinary salesman who one day wakes up to find his body has changed into that of a huge, monstrous insect.

Josef BreuerJune 20, 1925 – Death of the Viennese physician Josef Breuer. His documented 1880-1882 “therapy by talking” with troubled patient “Anna O.” (Bertha Pappenheimer) had inspired Sigmund Freud to begin developing psychoanalysis as a viable therapeutic method.

Adolf HitlerJuly 18, 1925 – One Adolf Hitler, leader of a small right-wing fringe party in Bavaria, publishes Mein Kampf (“My Struggle”): a rambling book full of racist and ultra-nationalist nonsense.
   At the time, no one took it seriously.

Sokichi SaitoMay 1, 1927 – Birth date of Sokichi Saito, a Japanese psychiatrist who had bipolar depression. Under the pen name Morio Kita, he wrote influential novels such as In the Corner of Night and Fog, and The House of Nire, with psychiatry as one of his main themes.

Ryunosuke AkutagawaJune 24, 1927 – The great Japanese short-stories writer Ryūnosuke Akutagawa kills himself (age 35) with an overdose of barbiturates.
   He did so because he feared he would share the fate of his mother, who had been put in an asylum because of “insanity”.
   One of the most prestigious literary awards in Japan has been named after him: the Akutagawa Prize.

Lawrence KohlbergOctober 25, 1927 – Birth date of Lawrence Kohlberg. He was the eminent psychologist who managed to extend Piaget’s cognitive development views into the moral realm.
   Based on experiments confronting children with moral dilemma’s, in the 1950s and 1960s he came to his ground-breaking insights on “stages of moral development”.
   In 1987, suffering from severe depression, Kohlberg asked for a day of leave in the hospital where he was being treated, and drowned himself.

Robert M. PirsigSeptember 6, 1928 – Birth date of American author Robert M. Pirsig, who became famous for his 1974 philosophical novel Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.
   In the setting of a road trip, and with many reflective asides, the book tried to unravel the true meaning of life by exploring the central topic of “Quality”.
   One autobiographical theme in the story was how ECT (electroshock therapy) can change one’s personality. In the 1960s, Pirsig had been treated with ECT for schizophrenic tendencies and clinical depression.

Italo SvevoSeptember 13, 1928 – Italian-Jewish writer Italo Svevo (pseudonym of Aron Ettore Schmitz) dies in hospital after a car accident.
   When aware he was going to die, he asked people at his bedside for a cigarette, telling them this really would be his last one.
   Trying to quit smoking had been an important theme in Svevo’s best known novel, the 1923 La Coscienza di Zeno (in English wrongly translated as “Confessions of Zeno”).
   Zeno also was the first novel to be completely based on the insights and principles of Freudian psychoanalysis.

Anne FrankJune 12, 1929 – Birth date of Anne Frank, who as a young girl would not survive the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp.
   But her war diary, full of hopes and dreams, made her an immortal icon of humanity in cruel times.
   She had started writing it on her 13th birthday (June 12, 1942).

Geli RaubalSeptember 19, 1931 – Geli Raubal, half-niece of Adolf Hitler who was living with him in his Munich apartment, kills herself using Hitler’s pistol.
   Hitler, who had been possessively shielding her from the outside world for years, was deeply shaken by the suicide. He kept revering her for the rest of his life.

Tampon Patent DrawingSeptember 12, 1932 – U.S. Patent No. 1,926,900 is granted to Earle Haas, a doctor in Denver, for his design of an internal “Catamenal Device” (“Monthly Device”). In his own words, this would be much more convenient (and hygienic) than the “rags” women used to apply.
   He sold his patent rights for $32,000 to Gertrude Tenderich, who in 1936 began to sell Haas’ invention as Tampax tampons.
   Although Haas (1888-1981) was important in making the lives of millions of women more comfortable, nowhere on Internet you’ll find a proper biography or even a photo of him.

Donald DuckJune 9, 1934 – Birth date of Donald Duck (his first appearance in a Disney cartoon).
   Well-thumbed half-torn old Donald Duck magazines would become an obligatory item on psychiatry ward reading tables. But his antidepressant qualities remain disputed: some maintain that if you’re already depressed, a dose of Donald will only make matters worse.

Ursula LevyMay 11, 1935 – Birth date of Ursula Levy, who as a Jewish child during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands was hidden in a Catholic orphanage, and just like Anne Frank ended up in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. Levy survived. In 1947 (age 12) she emigrated to the USA, where she became an expert in psychiatric nursing. In the 1980s, she was one of the first to research how parents and teachers perceive depression in children.

English public telephone boothJune 30, 1937 – The city of London introduces the world’s first special emergency telephone number. You could now simply dial 999 (even from pay phones) to get immediate advice and a quick connection to ambulance, fire department or police services.
   In due time, this concept would be adopted all over the world. The American 911 emergency number was introduced in 1968 by AT&T.
   Worldwide, different countries today use numbers like 000, 108, 111, 112, 119, 911, the original 999 or other variations.

MarijuanaAugust 2, 1937 – The US Congress passes the “Marihuana Tax Act”.
   By imposing a formal tax on any sales of marijuana and other cannabis-related products, the actual intention of this law was to make all informal sales of such products illegal.

GollumSeptember 21, 1937 – Official birth date of Gollum, who underneath all his wicked monomaniacal deviousness surely is one of the saddest, most piteous and forlorn figures in modern fantasy.
   On this day in 1937, J.R.R. Tolkien published the first edition of his story The Hobbit, introducing him to the world.

Amos OzMay 4, 1939 – Birth date of Israeli writer Amos Oz, who in his autobiographical novel A Tale of Love and Darkness (2002) looks back to the suicide of his depressed mother when he was a child of 12.

Dr. Karl BrandtSeptember 1, 1939 – Start of the “T4” euthanasia program in Nazi Germany. Led by Dr. Karl Brandt and others, it organized the systematic killing of handicapped people and mental hospital patients who were considered “a burden on the community of the German people”.
   Although formally ended in 1941, this was continued until the end of the war. Over 270,000 people were killed: both adults and children. Many were gassed or starved to death.
   The last “T4” victim was Richard Jenne, a four-year-old child labeled as a “feebleminded idiot”. On 29 May 1945, with the American occupation already in place, a nurse in the children’s ward of a Bavarian hospital routinely gave him a lethal injection. She later confessed she had killed at least 211 children.

DumboOctober 23, 1941 – At times, somehow, I find it sad and depressing that two different events could happen on the very same day.
   This was the day of the Odessa massacre: 19,000 Jewish civilians were herded into warehouses and shot (or burned alive). Another 20,000, among them many women and children, were taken to a nearby village and killed there in a similar way.
   Meanwhile in still-neutral America, the main event of this day was the eagerly awaited release of Walt Disney’s full-color animated film Dumbo, about a big-eared flying baby elephant.

Irmfried EberlJuly 11, 1942 – Psychiatrist Irmfried Eberl is appointed the first commandant of the Treblinka extermination camp.
   He would be the only physician to have commanded one of the death camps. Since 1939, he had actively participated in the Nazi “Euthanasia Program” (the mass killing of psychiatric patients).
   After his arrest in 1948, he hanged himself.

Margarete HilferdingSeptember 23, 1942 – Prominent Vienna psychiatrist Margarete Hilferding, 71, dies in a German cattle wagon while being transported from Theresienstadt to the extermination camp Maly Trostinec, near Minsk.
   As one of the first female psychoanalysts (cooperating with Freud, a close friend of Adler) between 1910-1940 she had been very important, especially in developing all kinds of help for women.
   She had not just worked as a therapist, but also publicized and been active as a pioneer in many other fields such as sexual counseling, organizing birth control facilities, and much more.

Darryl Alfred LevyOctober 29, 1942 – Birth date of American cult poet “d.a. levy” (Darryl Alfred Levy). He is remembered for his very associative-evocative free-form poems, especially in The North American Book of the Dead and Tombstone as a Lonely Charm.
   Levy thought and talked about suicide obsessively. Therefore one of his friends kept giving him books, knowing that every time he’d want to finish his new book before actually leaving this world.
   But in the long run even this trick didn’t work anymore: in November 1968, a few weeks after his 26th birthday, Levy shot himself.

Gypsy girl in AuschwitzOctober 10, 1944 – In the Auschwitz concentration camp (where doctor Mengele had been using gypsy children for his medical experiments) a batch of 800 gypsy children between the ages of 2 and 14 is brought in from Buchenwald.
   The children are crammed into a gas chamber and gassed to death.
   Their bodies are burned in Crematorium V, that would be destroyed three months later by SS troops trying to hide their crimes before the arrival of the Russian army.

One of the last photos of HitlerApril 30, 1945 – One suicide that was welcomed by many all over the world: Adolf Hitler puts a bullet through his head. Years too late, unfortunately. If only he’d been depressed all along!
 

Alexander H. LeightonJune 25, 1945 – Prominent psychiatrist Alexander H. Leighton gets wide attention by publishing a Time Magazine article titled Japs Are Human.
   In his article, he pointed out that American citizens of Japanese descent ought to be considered (and treated as) normal human beings.
   Apparently, near the end of World War II, people needed to be reminded of that.

Midori NakaAugust 24, 1945 – Death of Japanese actress Midori Naka (age 36). Eighteen days before, she had survived the Hiroshima atomic bomb inferno with only a few scratches. She’d taken a train back to Tokyo where, being a celebrity, she gave newspapers her eyewitness account of the bomb explosion.
   After ten days, she fell ill and entered a hospital. Her hair fell out. She got blood transfusions and the care of the best doctors, but died a week later.
   Naka was the very first person in the world whose cause of death was officially registered as “radiation poisoning”.

Benjamin SpockJuly 14, 1946 – Benjamin Spock publicizes his Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care. It immediately became a bestseller, ending up with more than 50 million copies in 40 languages all over the world.
   With its new approach that was partly based on psychoanalytical principles, this book greatly contributed to a less formal and more open, affectionate attitude of parents towards their children.

Roswell newspaperJuly 8, 1947 – Airfield personnel at Roswell, New Mexico, report they found remnants of a mysterious “flying disk”. Within a day the debris turned out to be from an experimental weather balloon, but still the story would gain notoriety as “The Roswell UFO Incident”.
   Over the years it grew into an elaborate conspiracy theory: some people actually believed the government was covering up contacts with aliens from outer space. As such, the Roswell flying saucer myth became a prime example of paranoid mass psychosis.

Waldemar Hoven (one of the doctors on trial)August 19, 1947 – The judges of the international Nuremberg Court give their verdict in the “Doctors’ Trial” against Nazi doctors who had conducted gruesome medical experiments with concentration camp prisoners.
   Some of the accused had tried to defend themselves by saying there was no rule differentiating between legal and illegal research methods. Therefore, the verdict introduced the Nuremberg Code stating 10 essential criteria (consent, no harm, etc.) that ought to be met to allow any medical experiment with human beings.
   The ten basic requirements defined in this Nuremberg Code have since become a formal part of law in many countries.

Minister Aneurin Bevan, one of the people who introduced the NHSJuly 5, 1948 – Official start date of the British National Health Service, which had been decided for with a 1946 law.
   It would provide free basic hospital and doctor services, based not on some insurance system but paid by the government (so from taxes).
   Even with the recent Supreme Court decision on “Obamacare”, it looks like Americans still need a little longer to agree on something like this.

Charlie BrownOctober 2, 1950 – First appearance of the Peanuts comic strip by Charles M. Schulz: it would become one of the most popular comics ever, running for almost 50 years.
   The main character, Charlie Brown, was a typical example of a failure-prone kid with serious self-doubts and insecurities. But he also personified hope and determination: although he consistently kept failing (playing ball, flying a kite) he never gave up trying.
   Meanwhile, Charlie’s dog Snoopy would try to make sense of his own doggy life by retreating into a world made up of grandiose fantasies.

William GoldingSeptember 17, 1954 – Publishing date of William Golding‘s novel Lord of the Flies, about a group of young English boys stranded on an uninhabited island.
   It tells the gruesome story of how their efforts to organize themselves quickly degenerate into fear, superstition, power struggles, and brutal violence.
   The book soon became seen as a prime example of a very pessimistic view on human nature (and civilization).

John SeigenthalerOctober 5, 1954 – Nashville journalist John Seigenthaler makes the headlines himself. He had been trying to talk to Gene Williams, a suicidal man on the verge of jumping from a 100 feet high bridge into the Cumberland River.
   When Williams blurted out “So long, God forgive me” and let go, Seigenthaler managed to grab him by his collar and hold on until a policeman helped to yank the struggling man back up again.
   At that point, Williams is said to have snapped at Seigenthaler: “I’ll never forgive you!”

Disneyland souvenirJuly 17, 1955 – Official opening of the first Disneyland theme park in Anaheim, California.
   Personally I’ve always found such parks with their artificial happiness atmosphere an alienating and outright depressing experience – but history has proven that millions of people feel otherwise.

Eve MillerJuly 21, 1955 – American movie actress Eve Miller is found in a pool of blood on her kitchen floor, having attempted suicide by stabbing herself. It takes hours of surgery to save her life.
   Miller would die in 1973 – by suicide.

Softenon BabyOctober 1, 1957 – The German pharmaceutical company Grünenthal launches a new sedative, Contergan, based on Thalidomide and better known under the name Softenon.
   This drug would turn out one of the worst medication disasters ever. When used by pregnant women, it caused children to be born with terrible birth defects such as missing limbs or worse.
   Before it was withdrawn in 1961, Softenon caused the birth of at least 10,000 malformed children, of whom about 50% were so badly affected that they did not even have a chance to survive.

Lee Harvey OswaldOctober 21, 1959 – Botched suicide: an American guest slashes his wrists in his room in the Hotel Berlin in Moscow. His KGB-assigned sightseeing guide, Rima Shirokova, finds the unconscious man and has him rushed to the Botkinskaya Hospital.
   His life was saved and for about a week, they kept him under observation in the psychiatry ward. He soon began to complain about the hospital food.
   If this troubled man – Lee Harvey Oswald – had not survived his suicide attempt, then four years later President John F. Kennedy would have returned from Dallas alive.

IMH, BelgradeJune 5, 1960 – In an official ceremony, the cornerstone is laid for the newly-built Institute of Mental Health in Belgrade, capital of communist Yugoslavia (today: Serbia).
   This was to be the very first psychiatric hospital in the entire Balkan region: before the 1960s, no such institution existed there.

Ernest HemingwayJuly 2, 1961 – Writer Ernest Hemingway, who in 1954 got the Nobel Prize in Literature, takes his gun and kills himself.
    A few months before he’d been treated with electroshocks – evidently, that had not helped him.

We have no photo of SmirnovaSeptember 9, 1961 – In the Lenin mausoleum in Moscow, a woman (L.A. Smirnova) broke the glass of the sarcophagus with a stone wrapped in a handkerchief, spat at Lenin’s embalmed body, and exclaimed “Take that, you bastard!”
   The incident was hushed up at the time. We only know about it from a secret service report that was declassified recently.
   Smirnova’s fate is unknown. Under Stalin she might have been shot, but as this was the Khrushchev era, she probably ended up locked away in a psychiatric institution.

Hilda DoolittleSeptember 27, 1961 – Death of poet H.D. (Hilda Doolittle) who in the 1920s and 1930s had been remarkable in openly expressing her bisexuality. Years after her death, she was rediscovered as a kind of icon in the gay rights and feminist movements.
   Having been one of Sigmund Freud’s patients in the 1930s, Doolittle left an extensive memoir Tribute to Freud describing her personal experiences with Freud’s psychoanalytic therapy.

Marilyn MonroeAugust 5, 1962 – Movie star Marilyn Monroe is found dead at her home.
   She appeared to have taken an overdose of barbiturates (strong sedative medication, sold under the brand name Nembutal).

Lyndon JohnsonJuly 30, 1965 – US President Lyndon Johnson signs the Social Security Act that launches the social health insurance programs Medicare (for the elderly and disabled) and Medicaid (for some low-income groups).
   Because of their qualification restrictions and other limitations, these programs kept lagging far behind the level of social health security in most other Western countries in the 1950s and 1960s. But of course as a little, it was better than nothing.

1960s TV commercial for cigarettesAugust 1, 1965 – On this date, after three years of pressure by the Royal College of Physicians pointing out the health problems related to smoking, television commercials for cigarettes were banned in Britain.
   A similar ban would be introduced in the USA in January 1971, although until 1986 this still allowed airing “smokeless tobacco ads”.

Hallucination?October 6, 1966 – The strong hallucinogenic drug LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide) becomes illegal in California. Within the next two years, it would be banned in most parts of the world.
   This marked the end of a brief period in the 1950s and early 1960s when, because of perceived benefits of its psychedelic effects, LSD had often been applied as a drug during psychotherapeutic sessions.
   It had, for example, been given to movie star Cary Grant as a routine part of his psychotherapeutic treatment.

Jimi HendrixMay 12, 1967 – First release of the impressive song Manic Depression by the great guitarist Jimi Hendrix (on his album Are You Experienced). The song was soon covered by many other artists such as the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Styx, Blood Sweat & Tears and Tanya Donelly. Hendrix would die in 1970 from a sleeping pills overdose.

Yuri AndropovApril 29, 1969 – In Soviet Russia, KGB chairman Yuri Andropov i/bntroduces a formal policy to have political dissenters diagnosed (with the cooperation of psychiatrists) as psychiatric patients, so they could without any process be locked up for involuntary “treatment” in special “mental institutions”. They kept doing this until in the 1980s.

Judy GarlandJune 22, 1969 – Actress and singer Judy Garland dies (age 47) from an overdose of Seconal, a barbiturate-based sedative.
   Among the many more people who died from a suicidal or accidental barbiturates overdose were evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson (1944), movie actress Carole Landis (1948), blues singer Dinah Washington (1963), journalist Dorothy Kilgallen (1965), Beatles’ manager Brian Epstein (1967), guitarist Jimi Hendrix (1970), actor Charles Boyer (1978), R&B singer Phyllis Hyman (1995), Iranian princess Leila Pahlavi (2001).
   Verdict: we cannot recommend this stuff.

Abraham MaslowJune 8, 1970 – Death of important psychologist Abraham Maslow, known for (among many other things) his “Hierarchy of Needs” and his theory of self-actualization. With his “Humanistic Psychology” he focused on finding out what makes mentally healthy people tick. Quote:
   “It is as if Freud supplied us the sick half of psychology, and we must now fill it out with the healthy half.

Jimi HendrixSeptember 18, 1970 – Brilliant guitarist Jimi Hendrix joins the ranks of the many great musicians (and other stars) who died from a drugs overdose.
   He took 10 times the advised dose of Vesparax sleeping pills, and to make sure, washed them down with wine.
   It remains unclear whether this was a case of stupidity or suicidality.

Janis JoplinOctober 4, 1970 – Singer Janis Joplin (27) is found dead on the floor of her Los Angeles hotel room. It appears that a dose of unusually strong heroin, perhaps combined with a few drinks, became fatal to her.
   Her album Pearl, that she had been recording just days before, was released posthumously a few months later and instantly became a huge success.

Jim MorrisonJuly 3, 1971 – The Doors singer Jim Morrison (age 27) is found dead in his bathtub. As a heroin addict he probably died from an accidental overdose, though it’s not exactly clear what happened.
   Heroin addiction (and addiction-related depression) has fatally contributed to countless untimely deaths. We notice this mainly when it happens to a yet another celebrity. But the same thing keeps happening again and again, every day.

Thomas EagletonJuly 13, 1972 – Missouri senator Thomas Eagleton becomes the Democratic candidate for Vice-President, as running mate of Presidential candidate George McGovern.
   But a few weeks later, it turns out that Eagleton has been a depression patient, had two ECT treatments, and is still using antidepressants. Because of this, the McGovern team deems him “unsuitable” and forces him to withdraw (he is replaced with Sargent Shriver).
   In the elections that year, McGovern would be defeated by Richard Nixon. Eagleton continued to serve as senator (without problems, getting re-elected twice) until 1987.

Christine ChubbuckJuly 15, 1974 – Sarasota TV reporter Christine Chubbuck is presenting a news show. Suddenly she announces: “In keeping with Channel 40′s policy of bringing you the latest in blood and guts, and in living color, you’re going to see another first: attempted suicide.”
   Putting a gun to her head, she kills herself right in front of the camera.
   She had been depressed for quite some time. But why this shocking performance? All we can say is that today she is remembered not for her life, but for her death.

Boris RyzhySep 8, 1974 – Birth date of Russian poet Boris Ryzhy (also written as Ryzhii) who wrote really stunning poems about depression, loneliness, music and drinking.
   I know them only from the English and Dutch translations: I guess the Russian originals will be even more striking and beautiful.
   In 2001, at the age of 26, Ryzhy hanged himself.

Ulrike MeinhofMay 9, 1976 – German Rote Armee Fraktion terrorist Ulrike Meinhof commits suicide in her prison cell by hanging herself with a towel. In 2002, it was discovered that authorities were still in possession of her brain, which illegally had been preserved for later examination by a psychiatrist to determine if she was sane.

Keith MoonSeptember 7, 1978 – The Who drummer Keith Moon dies from 32 tablets of the strong sedative clomethiazole (probably washing them away with alcohol) where only 6 would already have been lethal.
   There’s a story that his Beatle colleague Ringo Starr once warned him that his lifestyle would kill him, and his answer was “Yeah I know.”

Laurie BirdJune 15, 1979 – The actress and photographer Laurie Bird kills herself in the New York apartment where she lived with her friend, singer-songwriter Art Garfunkel.
   At her funeral, her father told a long-kept secret: he had always pretended that his wife had died from cancer, but in fact Laurie’s mother had killed herself too.

Jean SebergAugust 30, 1979 – Movie star Jean Seberg (40) kills herself in her car (parked near her Paris home) by taking a huge overdose of barbiturates combined with alcohol.
   She was missed right away, but it took a 10-day search before the Renault with her body was found.
   Clutched in her hand was a note saying “Forgive me. I can no longer live with my nerves.”

UnicefJune 4, 1983 – I bet you didn’t know that since 1983, every June 4 is the International Day of Innocent Children Victims of Aggression.
   Established by the United Nations, this day is meant as a reminder of the rights of children throughout the world: focusing on all those who are the victims of physical, mental and emotional abuse.
   Do initiatives like this really make a difference? I leave it to you to answer that question.

Elizabeth HartmanJune 10, 1987 – Actress Elizabeth Hartman, best known for her award-winning role as a blind girl in the movie A Patch of Blue, kills herself by jumping from her apartment. She had been chronically depressed for most of her life.
   Hartman’s death was a painful example of how the often-heard suicide prevention advice to call someone for help can be simply inadequate. Just two hours before her death she had called her psychiatrist to tell she was feeling very down.

Wataru TsurumiJuly 4, 1993 – Author Wataru Tsurumi causes much commotion in Japan by publishing his Complete Suicide Manual. While not explicitly promoting suicide, this book discussed various methods (preparation, painfulness, results) in a very factual manner.
   Some people think that by indicating the most effective methods, this book may have contributed to the relatively high suicide rates in modern Japan.

Sarah KofmanOctober 15, 1995 – French philosopher Sarah Kofman (60) kills herself. The year before she had published a book about her traumatic experiences as a young Jewish child hidden in Nazi-occupied Paris.
   A prolific writer, Kofman was an acknowledged expert on two key figures from the past: philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche and psychiatrist Sigmund Freud.
   Her 1980 book The enigma of woman still counts as the major analysis of Freud’s thoughts about women and female sexuality.

Adrian BorlandApril 26, 1999 – English rock singer/guitarist Adrian Borland, age 41, dies after throwing himself under a train. It was his fourth suicide attempt.
 

Bipolar DisorderJune 17, 1999 – At a conference in Pittsburgh, the International Society for Bipolar Disorders is founded. As one of its first initiatives, that same year it would launch the research journal Bipolar Disorders: An International Journal of Psychiatry and Neurosciences.
   While the founding of this organization reflected the growing attention for bipolar depression, its recentness also shows that it did take a long time before this problem really got the attention it deserves.

Gene KanJune 29, 2002 – Brilliant and successful 25-year old software designer Gene Kan, a widely acknowledged specialist in search engines, kills himself with a shot through the head.
   What he did right before his death was a typical example of depressed self-perception. He added the following line at the bottom of his personal Berkeley University web page:
   “Summary: Sad example of a human being. Specializing in failure.

Dr. PhilSeptember 16, 2002 – Debut of the popular American TV show Dr. Phil, with psychologist Phil McGraw pretending to give practical no-nonsense psychological advice in all kinds of daily life problems.
   Mc Graw had learned how to play the public as a sidekick in the Oprah Winfrey Show. With this show, he now makes about $80 million a year.
   My opinion? There is just as much professional psychological content in his sensation-seeking performance as there is juice in a balloon. This man really gives me the creeps.

WHO (World Health Organization)September 10, 2003 – First World Suicide Prevention Day, organized by the WHO (United Nations’ World Health Organization).
   Why? According to the WHO, roughly 1 million die by suicide every year: about 3,000 every day, one death every 40 seconds.
   The number of suicide attempts is 20 times as high: meaning one suicide attempt every 2 seconds, 60,000 attempts every day.

Tappan Zee BridgeAugust 31, 2007 – The New York State Thruway Authority installs four telephones on the Tappan Zee Bridge over the river Hudson, each phone connecting directly to a suicide prevention call center.
   This was done because there had been over 25 suicides within a few years by people jumping from the bridge. The authorities also installed anti-suicide fences, and signs saying “Life is Worth Living” or “When it seems like there is no hope, there is help”.
   It is not known if in the following years these measures did actually help to reduce the number of suicides.

Press Freedom DayMay 3, 2012 – UNESCO’s yearly World Press Freedom Day. Sadly, in a worldwide perspective, press censorship is still not history yet.
 
 

 

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Today In History:

Georges Gilles de la TouretteOct 30, 1857 –
Birth date of French physician and neurologist Georges Gilles de la Tourette. In 1884 he was the first to analyze a condition characterized by recurring involuntary tics. Named after him, this illness is still known today as “Tourette syndrome”.
   He also experimented with the use of hypnosis as a method in psychotherapy. In 1893 a hysterical female patient, falsely claiming to have been hypnotized against her will, shot him in the head.
   Tourette survived, but after this began to suffer from depressions and manic moods himself. In 1904 he died as a patient in a Swiss psychiatric institution.

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