Jacques, Elliott 1917-2003

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JACQUES, Elliott 1917-2003

OBITUARY NOTICE—See index for CA sketch: Born January 18, 1917, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada; died of an infection that damaged his heart March 8, 2003, in Gloucester, MA. Psychoanalyst, consultant, and author. Jacques was a behavioral scientist who is most often remembered for coining and defining the term "midlife crisis," which has since become an accepted theory among psychologists. A bright scholar at a young age, Jacques completed his B.A. degree from the University of Toronto when he was only eighteen. He earned a master's the next year, followed by a medical degree from Johns Hopkins University in 1940 and a Ph.D. in social relations from Harvard University in 1942, just as the United States was entering World War II. His military service involved an assignment in the Canadian Army Medical Corps, where he rose to the rank of major. After the war, he worked for the Tavistock Institute of Human Relations in London, where he became involved in a study of worker relations at the Glacier Metal Co. Here he learned how blue-collar workers were paid hourly wages while supervisors were salaried, and he formulated a theory that salaries should depend on how involved and time-consuming project responsibilities were and how much planning they required. Therefore, it was justified and equitable that someone performing a menial task that could be completed in a few hours or days should be paid less than a manager who might be planning strategies that take years to come to fruition. Jacques's theory was accepted and implemented at only a few factories and businesses, however, while it drew criticism from some experts who viewed it as elitist. Jacques's theories were later published in his first book, The Changing Culture of a Factory (1951). After becoming a certified psychoanalyst in 1951, Jacques went into private practice and was a consultant to the Department of Health and Social Security in England from 1952 to 1979. As he approached middle age, he observed changes in his mood that led him to research the emotional and psychological effects of middle age. He concluded that all people go through, in one way or another, a "midlife crisis" during which they try to recapture their youth as their awareness of their impending mortality becomes more enhanced. The idea that human beings continue to go through stages of development even after reaching adulthood was a new one among psychologists and psychiatrists, and quickly became a subject of intense interest in the field. Toward the end of his career, Jacques was a professor at Brunel University, Uxbridge, where from 1965 to 1971 he headed the School of Social Sciences, and from 1970 to 1986 was director of the Institute of Social and Organizational Studies. Beginning in 1979, he also worked as a consultant to the U.S. Army. He published nineteen books during his lifetime, including Work, Creativity, and Social Justice (1970), Free Enterprise, Fair Employment (1982), and The Life and Behavior of Living Organisms: A General Theory (2002).



Writers Directory, 18th edition, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 2003.


Chicago Tribune, March 24, 2003, section 2, p. 11.

Los Angeles Times, March 23, 2003, p. B17.

New York Times, March 17, 2003, p. A23.

Times (London, England), March 26, 2003, p. 32.

Washington Post, March 24, 2003, p. B5.

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Jacques, Elliott 1917-2003

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