AAAS Featured Fellow for July
Rosalind Cartwright (1922-2021)
Elected AAAS Fellow in 1978 (Section on Psychology)
This July, AAAS is honoring Dr. Rosalind Cartwright, a true titan in the field of sleep medicine and research.
Born in New York City in 1922, Rosalind, affectionately known as “Roz,” was the second youngest of four children to Henry and Stella Falk. Her mother was reportedly fascinated with the power of sleep and dreams which is likely where Dr. Cartwright’s interest in studying sleep began. In 1945, she received her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology at the University of Toronto and would continue on there to receive her Master’s the next year. Her PhD in Social Psychology would come from Cornell University in 1949. And after three years of teaching, she would go on to partner with Dr. Carl Rogers who at the time was beginning to conduct a new vein of research into client-focused psychotherapy — different from the prevailing psychoanalytic method at the time.
Together, they wrote the book Psychotherapy and Personality Change (1954) leading to a transformation in the field of psychology in how it compared client-centered therapy to a control group with objective outcome measures. In 1962, she would then go on to start a lab at the University of Illinois College of Medicine in Chicago — shifting her studies to sleep analysis and focusing on the relationship between REM sleep and dreaming. Through a series of research studies, over nearly half a century, she would find (among other things) that “sleep is like a built-in physician and dreams an internal psychotherapist; that good sleep rests and restores our weary bodies and that good dreams temper our emotional responses to new experiences,” (found in Twenty-Four Hour Mind: The Role of Sleep and Dreaming in Our Emotional Lives by Dr. Cartwright, 2010).
Dr. Cartwright will be remembered for her extraordinary and groundbreaking work in sleep analysis and has been affectionately nicknamed as the “Queen of Dreams.” In a field dominated by men, she left her mark as a trailblazer for many women in the field, being the first woman on a NIMH study section and the first woman to receive the SRS Distinguished Scientist Award (2002).