(Charlotte Berta Malachowski [birth name]; Charlotte Buhler [English-speaking area])
born on December 20, 1893 in Berlin, Germany
died on February 5, 1974 in Stuttgart, Germany
130th birthday on December 20, 2023
“My interest in psychology dates back to when I was between 13 and 15 years old. Two factors played a role. One was the essays I had to write for school. The characters from the dramas that we…had to analyze interested me primarily in terms of their development and motivations…. The second factor was the question of the existence of God and the role and purpose of man in the universe…” Charlotte Bühler would later focus on these fundamental questions in her psychological research and writing.
Charlotte Malachowski came from an intellectual Berlin family of architects. In 1916, in the midst of the war, she married her university teacher, Karl Bühler, a speech psychologist 14 years her senior. Ingeborg was born in 1917 and Rolf in 1919, and were cared for by a governess while the parents devoted themselves to research.
Bühler completed her habilitation in Dresden in 1922, went to Vienna with her husband, and received a professorship in 1930. While the first comprehensive volumes on child psychology had already been published in the “century of the child” (Ellen Key), there were as yet no scholarly works on adolescent psychology from a developmental psychological perspective. Charlotte Bühler closed this gap in 1921 with her book Das Seelenleben des Jugendlichen (The Inner Life of the Adolescent). She also broke new ground methodologically and in terms of content by using diaries to identify typical developmental and maturational phases of adolescent girls and boys. Her tests for young children, which were the result of field research and systematic observation, were milestones in child psychology.
Later she turned her attention to adulthood and, searching for the meaning of life, posited four basic tendencies in all human striving. Her theoretical work on motivation provided a model for understanding human life.
In 1938 the renowned Bühlers, like so many others, became refugees due to Charlotte's Jewish descent. They emigrated via Oslo and London to the USA, where Charlotte, absorbing impulses and currents of American psychology, continued to work scientifically and also therapeutically. In the last decade of her life (her husband died in 1963), Bühler developed humanistic psychology with other leading psychologists such as Abraham Maslow, Carl Rogers, and Victor Frankl. In 1972 she became ill and returned to her children in Stuttgart, where she died in 1974. Charlotte Bühler is one of the most important psychologists of the twentieth century. Her works have been translated into many languages.
(Text from 1992; translated with DeepL.com; edited by Ramona Fararo, 2023.)
Please consult the German version for additional information (pictures, sources, videos, bibliography).
Author: Sibylle Duda
All human beings have in common the tendency to gratify needs, the tendency to self-restriction in adaptation to the external environment, the tendency of creative expansion, and finally the tendency to maintain an internal order.
(Charlotte Bühler's four basic tendencies of all human striving).
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