Meehl, Paul E(verett) 1920-2003

views updated

MEEHL, Paul E(verett) 1920-2003

OBITUARY NOTICE—See index for CA sketch: Born January 3, 1920, in Minneapolis, MN; died of complications from chronic myelomonocytic leukemia February 14, 2003, in Minneapolis, MN. Psychologist, educator, and author. Though not a household name, Meehl was widely regarded as one of the most influential psychologists of his time and was the first to hypothesize, correctly, that schizophrenia is a mental illness caused by genetic problems and not by poor parenting, as many believed as late as the 1950s. He graduated from the University of Minnesota with a Ph.D. in 1945, and from there joined his alma mater's faculty as an assistant professor. He became a full professor of psychology in 1952 and chaired the department from 1951 to 1957. In addition, he served as an adjunct professor of law, a Regents' Professor, and a professor of philosophy. Retiring in 1990, he continued to teach classes as Hathaway-Meehl Professor of Psychology until 1993. In addition to his teaching, he was a practicing psychotherapist from 1951 to 1994 and was on the staff of the Nicollet Clinic during the 1970s. Never afraid to go against the grain, Meehl advocated the use of hard data in analyzing mental illness and making a prognosis, often pointing out the shortcomings of clinicians who allowed subjective opinions and fallacies to get in the way of an accurate analysis. This idea was expressed in his controversial 1954 book Clinical versus Statistical Prediction. Meehl was also the author of seven other books, including What Then Is Man? (1958), Taxometrics and Schizoidia (1980), and Selected Philosophical and Methodological Papers (1991).



Encyclopedia of Occultism and Parapsychology, fifth edition, Gale (Detroit, MI), 2001.

Gale Encyclopedia of Psychology, second edition, Gale (Detroit, MI), 2001.


Los Angeles Times, February 20, 2003, p. B15.

New York Times, February 19, 2003, p. A25.

Star Tribune (Minneapolis, MN), February 18, 2003, p. 6B.