Tomkins, Silvan S. (Silvan Solomon), 1911-1991

Alternative names
Birth 1911-06-04
Death 1991-06-10

Biographical notes:

Silvan Tomkins was born on June 4, 1911 in Philadelphia.

Tomkins attended the University of Pennsylvania, studying drama and playwriting. Despite these literary leanings, he enrolled in Penn's graduate psychology program. After earning his Master's degree, Tomkins transferred to the philosophy department . In philosophy, Tomkins studied logic and value theory, completing his PhD in 1934. Having difficulty finding academic work during the Depression, Tomkins worked for a year as a horse racing handicapper, studying the dispositions of horses to give gamblers an edge on their betting.

Tomkins later joined the staff of the Harvard Psychological Clinic in 1937 after enrolling in Harvard's postdoctoral philosophy program. In 1946, while working at the clinic, Tomkins wrote Contemporary Psychopathology . Tomkins also devised the Tomkins-Horn Picture Arrangement Test.

In 1947, Tomkins secured an academic position in Princeton's psychology department.

The years 1962 and 1963 saw the completion of the first two volumes of his research results, Affect, Imagery, and Consciousness . Two later volumes were published, and the final volume was published posthumously in 1992.

In 1965, Tomkins establish the Center for Cognition and Affect at the City University of New York.

Tomkins passed away on June 10, 1991 of lymphoma. The Silvan S. Tomkins Institute was created in his honor.

From the guide to the Silvan Tomkins papers, 1957-1987, (Center for the History of Psychology)


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  • Logic--Psychological aspects


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