A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE EVOLUTION OF PSYCHOLOGY IN ISRAEL: THE ROLE OF ENZO BONAVENTURA

  • Daniel Luccio
  • Riccardo Luccio

Abstract

Enzo Bonaventura (Pisa, 1891 – Jerusalem, 1948) was an eminent figure in the development of scientific psychology in Italy before Second World War. Born to a Jewish family (the father was a musician), pupil of Francesco De Sarlo, one of the “fathers†of the Italian psychology, he graduated in the University of Florence in 1903, and was appointed there as Assistant Professor and Director of the Laboratory of Experimental Psychology. In 1932 De Sarlo resigned from the University for opposing fascism. Bonaventura won a national concourse to succeed to him as Full Professor, but for political reason the Faculty did not “invite†him, posponing the decision till 1938, when the fascist government excluded by law all Jews from the Italian universities. He, then, decided to emigrate in Erez Israel. During the Italian period, under the influence of De Sarlo and of Vittorio Benussi, he produced very important experimental and theoretical contibutions on the psychology of time and space. He used many instruments, mainly tachistoscopes, demonstrating a great ingenuity. He was also interested in applied psychology, in particular psychology of education, and in the last peiod spent in Italy, in psychoanalisys. He trained a generation of very good young Italian experimentalists, like Carla Calabresi and Alberto Marzi. Once in Palestine-Erez Israel, Professor Bonavetura established the first laboratory for experimental study of psychological phenomena at Hebrew University. In fact, he established the first Department of Psychology in Israe at large. Earlier, Hebrew University turned down offers for establishing a Department of Psychology based on psychoanalysis -- despite pressure from Freud who was a governor of the University. With the tragic death of Enzo Bonaventura in a convoy to Mount Scopus, the Department died with him. For the ensuing ten years, students could not study psychology as a major or minor subject at Hebrew University. However, one of Bonaventura's young students, the late Professor Isaac Lewin, established a Department of Psychology following his mentor's example, at Bar-Ilan University in 1955-6. Bar-Ilan was just founded with a modern Department of Psychology mainly due to the contribution of Bonaventura through Lewin. Subsequently, the Department at Bar-Ilan and the re-opened Department at Hebrew University supplied the faculty to the new Departments at the new universities in Haifa and Beer-Sheva. Today, Israeli Universities rank among the top research institutions of psychology in terms of quantity and quality of scientific output.

Author Biography

Daniel Luccio
Daniel Algom and Riccardo Luccio
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