Dec. 7, 1995
Vol. 15, No. 7

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    Obituary: Israel Goldiamond, Psychiatry and Psychology

    Israel Goldiamond, Professor Emeritus in Psychiatry and Psychology and a pioneer in the field of behavioral psychology, died at his home of cancer on Nov. 19. He was 76.

    A leader in the experimental analysis of behavior -- the meticulous study of behavior under carefully controlled laboratory conditions -- Goldiamond was a pioneer in developing new methods to assess animal and human behaviors and in applying that knowledge to human behavior. His research led to new and very effective methods of altering problematic or harmful behaviors such as overeating, smoking, stuttering and phobic behavior.

    "His remarkable insights into human behavior enabled him to develop new approaches to help patients modify their activities in sensitively regulated incremental steps," said Harry Trosman, Professor in Psychiatry. "He understood pathological behaviors to be modifiable by appropriate therapeutic interventions, and used that information to develop systems of reinforcement that could encourage a patient to develop a better sense of self-awareness and self-control."

    "Israel Goldiamond was one of the most influential proponents of behavior analysis and modification," said Sebastian Grossman, Professor in Psychology.

    "He was also truly one of the brightest people I have ever met. This could make him somewhat challenging to work with," Grossman added.

    Born Nov. 1, 1919, in the Ukraine, Goldiamond came to the United States at age 3. He received his B.A from Brooklyn College of the City University of New York in 1942, then served in the U.S. Army until 1945. He entered graduate school at Chicago in 1948 and worked as a research assistant until he completed his Ph.D. in experimental psychology in 1955.

    Goldiamond served on the psychology faculty at Southern Illinois University from 1955 to 1960 and taught at Arizona State from 1960 to 1963. From 1963 to 1968, he served as associate director and then director of the Institute for Behavioral Research in Silver Spring, Md., and as a neuropsychiatry consultant at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research. From 1966 to 1968, he served on the psychiatry faculty at Johns Hopkins University Medical School, as associate professor and then professor of behavior analysis. He joined the Chicago faculty in 1968 as Professor in Psychiatry and Psychology. He also was Director of the Behavior Analysis Research Laboratory and a member of the Committee on Human Nutrition & Nutritional Biology.

    The author of more than 60 scientific articles, Goldiamond was a fellow of both the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Psychological Association, and he served as president, from 1977 to 1978, of the Association for Behavior Analysis. He also served on the editorial boards of several scientific journals and on the APA's Board on Social and Ethical Responsibility in Psychology.

    After an automobile accident in 1970 left him paralyzed from the waist down, Goldiamond became an advocate for the disabled. He was chairman of an American Psychological Association task force that was organized to assist the disabled within the profession. He also belonged to the board of directors of Disabled Access Rehabilitation Enterprises, a Hyde Park facility for the ambulatory disabled.

    After the accident, friends and colleagues marveled at Goldiamond's personal tenacity and courage and his rapid professional recovery. Within weeks of the injury, he resumed his teaching, research and clinical activities -- all from his hospital bed -- with staff, students and colleagues constantly present throughout visiting hours. "His injuries never stopped him from doing his job," Grossman said. "In fact, his productivity was envied by many of his far healthier colleagues."

    Goldiamond is survived by his wife, Betty, and their three children: Lisa Plymate of Tacoma, Wash.; Joseph Goldiamond of Paris; and Shana Aucsmith, of Portland, Ore.

    Memorial contributions may be made to Access Living of Metropolitan Chicago, 310 S. Peoria, Suite 210, Chicago, Ill. 60607.