One thing you often see in the world of obituaries is the difference between the pop and real. A person will be celebrated the world over for a particular contribution to this or that, but in the real world of their chosen profession they are respected and admired for something else altogether, usually something more serious and probing. Here's Margaret Singer from today's Boston Globe, she of Patty Hearst and schizophrenic language patterns. --DXO
T. Singer, at 82; studied cults, brainwashing
By Los Angeles Times, 11/29/2003
She served as an expert witness in numerous high-profile court cases, including testifying for the defense in the 1976 bank-robbery trial of kidnapped newspaper heiress Patricia Hearst.
Ms. Singer was a clinical psychologist and former psychology professor at the University of California, Berkeley, who also was known for her work on schizophrenia.
Ms. Singer, who did groundbreaking research on the brainwashing of US soldiers captured during the Korean War, often was sought out by lawyers as an expert witness and by the news media for comment in high-profile cases, including the People's Temple and the mass murder-suicide at Jonestown, Guyana; the search for the Hillside Strangler in Los Angeles; and the Branch Davidian and Heaven's Gate cults.
Over the years, she interviewed more than 4,000 cult members, including Charles Manson.
In the scientific community, however, she was more famous for her work on schizophrenia and family therapy, said Daniel Goldstine, chief psychologist of the Berkeley Therapy Institute. "She was a remarkable person -- the only genius I ever met in our business," Goldstine said. "She was twice nominated for a Nobel Prize for her work in schizophrenia. That work revealed that the best indicator of the disordered mind was the schizophrenic's odd and peculiar use of language."
In 1953, she began working as a psychologist for the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research in Washington, D.C., where she specialized in studying returned prisoners of the Korean War who had been brainwashed into denouncing the United States.
She did further research, with a heavy focus on schizophrenia, with the National Institute of Mental Health, the Air Force, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.