Kurt Koffka, an Unwitting Self-Portrait

By Molly Harrower | Go to book overview

in oxford the year unfolds

There was much more to Koffka's Oxford experiences than can be recorded in terms of his clinical opportunities with the neuro- surgeons, his unusual "patient" Unity Mitford, or the emerging views on a psychologist's role in a clinical situation that he had begun to formulate. The full flavor of his year in Oxford may be seen best in larger excerpts from his letters, covering many topics.

Koffka arrived in London in August 1939 during one of the critical months of World War II. England would enter the war a week later, on 3 September. On arrival he wrote:

I know you will be worried about me and no doubt it is as serious as it can be. The bombshell of the German-Russian pact burst on the day I went to Oxford where everybody took a very serious view. Cairns was extremely nice--his family are in Sussex, his wife is expecting another baby. I had hardly lunched when I was taken into a brain operation, in white gown, cap and mask, for in the London hospital there is no such elegant visitors' gallery as in Montreal's Neurological Institute. I stood for awhile close to Pennybacker [ Joseph B. Pennybacker, brain surgeon and first assistant to Hugh Cairns] who did the operation, and could have touched the brain! Several good talks and an interesting ward rounds where I made a few suggestions. I shall go to Oxford whatever happens, Cairns was quite empha-

-206-

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Kurt Koffka, an Unwitting Self-Portrait
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Foreword vii
  • Preface xi
  • Introduction 1
  • Koffka as Psychologist 9
  • The Private Koffka 39
  • The Public Koffka 74
  • Koffka as Mentor 99
  • Koffka as Colleague 118
  • The Russian- Uzbekistan Expedition 143
  • Reactions to The Gathering Clouds Of War 165
  • In Oxford The Clinician 185
  • In Oxford The Year Unfolds 206
  • Epilogue. Koffka's Core Values And Beliefs 249
  • Appendix A. Biographical Sketch: Koffka 253
  • Appendix B. Major Dates: Koffka 259
  • Appendix C. Major Dates: Harrower 261
  • Appendix D. a Note on The Koffka Papers 263
  • Appendix E. - Koffka's Letter To Sir Arthur Eddington 276
  • Glossary of Names 307
  • Works Cited 319
  • Index 323
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