Who is Henry Murray?June 25, 2021
May 13, 1893 – June 23, 1988 was an American psychologist.
He was born on May 13, 1893 in New York. He studied medicine at Columbia University. He taught physiology for two years at Harvard University and worked as a surgical assistant at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital for two years. He then did embryology research for two years at the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research in New York. He went to England in 1927 and received a PhD in biochemistry from Cambridge University. Influenced by Jung’s works during his stay in Europe, Murray’s entire interest turned to psychology. Upon his return to the USA, he began to teach psychology at Harvard University, although he did not receive any academic training. In 1928, he was appointed director of the Harvard Psychology Clinic, which he founded. Enlisting in the military in 1943, Murray returned to Harvard in 1947 and was promoted to professor of clinical psychology two years later. After retiring in 1962, he continued his studies and published several books.
Murray’s important place in psychology stems from his contributions to personality theory and personality diagnosis. Murray, who developed different methods in the investigation of personality, especially reflective tests based on the interpretation of the individual’s reactions to certain situations, is famous for the “Thematic Apperception Test”, which is called TAT for short. This test, which is the most widely used personality diagnosis method in practice together with the Rorschach method, is based on the assumption that the imaginary stories to be created on the picture are open to various interpretations that will express the personality of the individual. In this method, in which thirty small cards with pictures open to various interpretations are used, the subjects are asked to make up stories about what is happening in the pictures on these cards. By evaluating these stories according to determined criteria, the personality structure of the subject is found.
Murray, examining the concept of “need”, the most influential of his books, Explorations in Personality, listed about twenty basic spiritual needs that exist in each individual. The most important of these basic needs, which constitute the dynamics of the behavior of individuals and establish their personalities according to their relative ordering differences, are the needs to lower oneself, to succeed, to be a leader. Murray also talks about the “compulsions” that make up the personality of the individual along with the needs. “Need” is a regulatory concept that reveals the motivational roots of behavior, while “compulsion” originates from the environment that determines or influences behavior.
Influenced by the psychoanalytic views of Freud and Jung and believing that he found the appropriate logical model in Whitehead’s philosophy, Murray has been an advocate of behavioral research, which is based on the detailed examination of a small number of individual events, rather than a large number of subjects or groups throughout his scientific life.
Henry Murray is an American psychologist who developed a theory of human personality based on the individual’s innate needs and relationship to the physical and social environment. He completed his education in medicine and biochemistry at Harvard, Columbia and Cambridge Universities. His interest in psychology arose when he began reading the works of Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud. He began teaching psychology at Harvard University in 1927. He was director of the Harvard Psychology Clinic from 1929 to 1938 and published his most famous book, Explorations in Personality. He developed a personality assessment tool (The Thematic Apperception Test – TAT), which has been characterized as an important contribution to analytical psychology. Murray’s test was based on a set of picture interpretations, as his work showed that individuals were more likely to interpret events based on their own experience. TAT was a projective test used to assess an individual’s personality and self. The test has been used in numerous studies on personality and motivation and is still widely used as a screening tool for employers today.
He served as president of the Harvard Psychology Clinic from 1928 to 1937. In addition to her clinical practice of psychoanalysis, Murray has led a research program that explores the constituent elements of personality (eg, emotions, preferences, behavioral tendencies, and relational traits). The results were published in the book Discoveries in Persons.
In 1938, Murray, at the urging of the US government, made a psychological profile of Adolph Hitler. During World War II, he left Harvard to serve temporarily in the US Army, working with American intelligence agencies to assess the psychological suitability of agents.
Murray was a central figure in the fields of social relations and psychology. He strongly advocated research into human personality involving multiple methods to capture as many faces of the individual as possible. As both a teacher and a researcher, he admires Murray with his colleagues and students.