Eysenck is probably best known as a
controversialist. He has received acclaim and criticism
from colleagues and seems to strive more from the
latter. Born the son of German film and stage
celebrities, he was encouraged to pursue acting as a career.
graduating from high school, however, he left Germany in
opposition of the Nazi Regime and eventually completed his
Ph.D. in Psychology at the University of London. Since
that time, he wrote over 50 books on such diverse topics that
he seemed to have an interest and expertise in
everything. He was more a theorist than a researcher,
and although much research has supported his theories since,
there are some that have been scrutinized and attacked.
most influential paper in terms of the treatment of mental
illness challenged the effectiveness of psychotherapy.
He argued that the treatment approaches of the time,
especially psychoanalysis, were no better than no treatment at
all. While this outraged some and concerned others, it
also challenged many to test his theories. Since its
publication, a plethora of research has been completed that
shows psychotherapy to be an effective approach to the
treatment of mental illness.
was somewhat of a biological theorist and he also inspired
research on the biological components of personality. He
stated that intelligence was largely inherited and introduced
the world to his concepts of extroversion and neuroticism, the
two basic personality dimensions, according to his
theory. He believed that all personality traits could be
summarized by these two dimensions, which he called
theories have inspired many and although controversial in many
aspects of his career, he remains a celebrity, much like his
parents, for those who study personality theory.