Benjamin Spock

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Benjamin McLane Spock (May 2, 1903 – March 15, 1998) was an American pediatrician whose book Baby and Child Care, published in 1946, is one of the biggest best-sellers of all time. Its revolutionary message to mothers was that "you know more than you think you do."[citation needed]

Spock was the first pediatrician to study psychoanalysis to try to understand children's needs and family dynamics. His ideas about childcare influenced several generations of parents to be more flexible and affectionate with their children, and to treat them as individuals, whereas the previous conventional wisdom had been that child rearing should focus on building discipline, and that, e.g., babies should not be "spoiled" by picking them up when they cried.

In addition to his pediatric work, Spock was an activist in the New Left and anti Vietnam War movements during the 1960s and early 1970s. At the time his books were criticized by Vietnam War supporters for allegedly propagating permissiveness and an expectation of instant gratifications that led young people to join these movements, a charge Spock denied. Spock also won an Olympic gold medal in rowing in 1924 while attending Yale University.

Contents

Background

Benjamin McLane Spock was born May 2, 1903, in New Haven, Connecticut; his parents were Benjamin Ives Spock, a Yale graduate and long-time general counsel of the New Haven Railroad, and Mildred Stoughton Spock.[1] As the eldest of six children, Spock helped take care of his siblings in various ways.

Like his father before him, Spock attended Phillips Academy and Yale University. Spock studied literature and history at Yale, and also was active in athletics, becoming a part of the Olympic rowing crew (Men's Eights) that won a gold medal at the 1924 games in Paris. At Yale, he was inducted into the senior society Scroll and Key. He attended the Yale School of Medicine for two years before shifting to Columbia University's College of Physicians and Surgeons, from which he graduated first in his class in 1929. By that time, he had married Jane Cheney.[2]

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