David Rapaport, Ph.D.


Test Developed:
Contributed to the development of the use of the clinical diagnostic battery

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Born in Budapest, Hungary, David Rapaport specialized in mathematics and physics in college. However, after entering into psychoanalysis, his interest shifted to psychology and philosophy, and he earned a Ph.D. in psychology from the University of Budapest in 1938, the same year he emigrated to the United States. After working for a brief period as a psychologist at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, Rapaport moved to Kansas to accept a position as a staff psychologist at the Osawatamie State Hospital. He worked there until 1940, when Karl Menninger offered him a position at the Menninger Clinic in Topeka, Kansas; Rapaport was to be the clinic’s first full-time psychologist.

The years 1940 through 1948 witnessed Rapaport’s rise to prominence through a number of publications, including his now-classic work, Diagnostic Psychological Testing (1945–"1946), written with Roy Schafer, B.S. [now, Ph.D.], and Merton Gill, M.D. Although hailed by many clinicians as a milestone in the assessment literature, the work was criticized on many counts, such as its lack of statistical rigor. By 1960, all of the remaining stock from the numerous reprintings of the book had been exhausted, and the plates used for reprinting were no longer usable. Two publishers were prepared to republish the two volumes of Diagnostic Psychological Testing in their original form. However, as Holt (1968) tells us:

David Rapaport had been hurt by the criticisms of the book and had taken them to heart; he realized that many were justified, and he did not feel that he could allow so many undeniable errors to stand in a reissued book; yet he did not have time or inclination to undertake a revision. His own interests and practice had turned toward theory, experimental research, and therapy, and those of Roy Schafer had similarly grown away from testing into psychoanalysis. As for the third member of the original team, though he remained interested and informed about testing beyond most of his psychiatric and psychoanalytic colleagues, Merton Gill was clearly not the man for the job. (p. 1)

The person who turned out to be "the man for the job" was Robert R. Holt; Rapaport had spent a sabbatical year at New York University between 1959 and 1960 and had met Holt, who had discussed his ideas for revision. Some time later, shortly before Rapaport’s death, Rapaport wrote Holt and asked if he would undertake the revision (which he did).

While at Menninger, Rapaport had been head of the psychology department and chairman of research. In 1948, Rapaport left Topeka for Stockbridge, Massachusetts, and a position at the Austen Riggs Foundation there. Unburdened of administrative duties, he immersed himself in the study of psychoanalysis and produced, among other publications, Organization and Pathology of Thought and Structure of Psychoanalytic Theory: A Systematizing Attempt. At the age of 49 and very much involved in his work, David Rapaport died in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, while dining with friends. He was survived by his two daughters and by his wife, Elvira, whom he had met on a kibbutz in Israel before he emigrated to the United States.

References

Holt, R. R. (1968). Editor’s Foreword. In D. Rapaport, M. M. Gill, & R. Schfer, Diagnostic psychological testing (rev. ed.). New York: International University Press.

Rapaport, D., Gill, M. M., & Schafer, R. (1945–"1946). Diagnostic psychological testing. (2 vols.). Chicago: Year Book.



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