Biography: Hans Jurgen Eysenck (1916-1997)
Hans J. Eysenck was born and raised in Germany while there was economic hardship and the political upheaval created by Hilter's rise to power. Eysenck rarely saw his parents, both of whom were actors (his mother was in films and his father was on stage and in cabarets). He was raised entirely by his grandmother.
Known in school as a "white Jew", a term given to those who sympathized the Jews, Eysenck hated the Nazi regime and refused, when he because 18, to join the military forces. Instead, he left his homeland for England where, at the University of London, he came to the study of psychology rather by accident. He lacked the basics for physics, which he had intended to study, and someone suggested to him the new science of psychology.
At London, Eysenck studied under Sir Cyril Burt and, after obtaining his Ph.D. in 1940, became a research psychologist at the Mill Hill Emergency Hospital which was a temporary psychiatric institution established during World War II. When the war ended, Eysenck was appointed to be the director of the Psychology Department of Maudsley Hospital's new institute of Psychiatry. He was also a professor of psychology at the University of London.
From the beginning, Eysenck was highly skeptical of the Freudian theory. One of his first research efforts, which was called off by his superiors, was an examination of inconsistency in psychiatric judgments. He was persistent in his beliefs. Fairly early in his work at the institute, he was able to establish a program in behavior genetics division in his department at a time when this topic was not fashionable.