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Archive for December, 2018

contributed by Aubrey Baldwin, Phillip Fischio, Anthony Greenaway, Laura Loop, and Katelynn Olsen (students in the Museums & Archives Certificate Program).

Fire, arson, danger. Most people don’t associate these words with children; however the work of George A. Sakheim might suggest otherwise.

Card taken from Sakheim’s original collection, which states his research. Box M6591; Folder 1

 

George A. Sakheim, a clinical psychologist, did most of his research on the fire-setting behaviors of children during the 1970s to the early 2000s. Dr. Sakheim’s discoveries led to various published works on child arsonists. Overall, his work contributed to a greater understanding of a topic that previously was not well understood.

Most of the information was garnered through therapy sessions with minor fire-setter case studies.  Many of the children that Dr. Sakheim worked with suffered from mental illness, which may have contributed to their fire-setting behaviors. Part of his work involved assessing the level of risk exhibited by each child. He ranked each patient as minor, moderate, or severe. Dr. Sakheim performed many different tests to create these rankings. One such test was an exercise allowing the children to draw something associated to what they were discussing in therapy.

Example of a patient’s drawing. Box M6592; Folder 11

 

The various cases that Dr. Sakheim reviewed of child and adolescent fire-setters made him an expert on the subject. His expertise secured him a consulting position with the New York State Office of Developmental Disabilities and Mental Retardation. He also wrote several books and articles on the topic, helping the psychological community gain a better understanding of the phenomenon. 

Juvenile Firesetters in Residential Treatment by George A. Sakheim et al. Box M6609; Folder 2

 

Dr. Sakheim’s archival papers documenting this work are now available at the Cumming’s Center for the History of Psychology. The papers contain 20 letter size document cases and 1 record storage box, all relating to Dr. Sakheim’s work. All of the patient files are restricted, including cassette tapes of interviews with firesetters, but Dr. Sakheim’s research and written works are open for research.  View the finding aid for the George Sakheim papers for more details.

The processing of this archival collection fulfilled requirements for students enrolled in the course Foundations of Museums and Archives I.

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contributed by Allan Christopher, Amanda Leach, Sarah Riddle, M. Rose Stull (students in the Museums & Archives Certificate Program).

The Marianne Simmel papers consist of the primary research, patient files, correspondence and publications of psychologist Dr. Marianne Simmel, as well as her work/research with the performers Marcel Marceau and Charlie Chaplin.

Picture of Dr. Marianne Simmel in Paris, Early 1950’s. Located in Box M6613, Folder 11.

The primary focus of her research was the phantom limb phenomenon, and she also dabbled in cognitive neuropsychology. Her work with phantom limbs focused on adults and children with neurological defects. Amputations were a large focus, and she also did work with mastectomy patients. She explored animacy and the human instinct for storytelling, which led to an extensive collection following the work of Charlie Chaplin and Marcel Marceau.

Dr. Simmel, pictured second from left, conducting research at the University of Illinois. Located in Box M6613, Folder 11.

Dr. Simmel’s work with phantom limbs included various tests meant to induce/test sensation where the missing body part once was, such as experiments with heat and cold.

Sample of test sheets Dr. Simmel gave to her patients. Located in Box M6613, Folder 7.

She corresponded with Dr. Jean Piaget, a renowned child psychologist of the time. Much of this correspondence is  in French and, considering she was born in Germany, it is reasonable to assume she was trilingual.

Simmel also published several studies on the phantom limb phenomena, including the physical and psychological effects on patients of various circumstances and health conditions. One of the ways Simmel did this was by studying the human capacity for symbolic art form, particularly by working with performers Marcel Marceau and Charlie Chaplin. She would often go on tour with Marceau, giving lectures after his initial performance in order to make her point.

Playbill featuring Marcel Marceau. Located in Box M6630, Folder 3.

While going through her research files, we also found representations of the Homunculus, which shows the relative extent of symmetric motor and sensory representation in the cerebral cortex.

Blind Child (Fig. 1), An Example of Bad Art (Fig. II) and Homunculus (Fig. III).

To learn more about the contents of this collection, view the finding aid. You can view the collection in person at the Cummings Center for the History of Psychology, located in Akron, Ohio.

The processing of this archival collection fulfilled requirements for students enrolled in the course Foundations of Museums and Archives, I.

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