about John Watson...

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John Watson has two sons. And through some studying of Mr. Watson, I have learned that he did not show much affection to his sons, because he believed that too much affection would not raise his sons to be strong men. However, his oldest son committed suicide. This is evidence that Mr. Watson's theory of little affection equals strong person might be incorrect. My question is, how did Mr. Watson's oldest son commit suicide and was the relationship of the way that he was raised and the end result of him committing suicide? Why did he commit suicide? Thank you very much

-- Helra Han (hg_yuhja@yahoo.com), March 31, 2003


I'd be reluctant in any case of suicide to look for a simple, single "cause" such as what you describe. Have you checked the various Watson biographies to see if they say more about the son's suicide? You probably will need to check public records such as death certificates in order to find the means of the suicide. Other factors might be equally influential, such as the death of the boys' mother Rosalie when they were young. You'd also want to look at other aspects of the son's interpersonal relationships beyond the family. So to answer this question you'd need to do a lot of research on the Watson's family life, the son's life outside the family, and various theories of suicide. Quite a bit project!

-- Hendrika Vande Kemp (hendrika@earthlink.net), April 03, 2003.

It is a long leap from Watson's *theories* about child rearing to the suicide of one of his sons. Probably far more significant than his theories was the fact that the two sons' mother, Rosalie Rayner, died of disease when they were only 12 and 14 years old. They were then sent to boarding school, and so did not have much contact with their father, regardless of what his theories might have been. They both went on to succesful careers as psychiatrist and an occupational psychologist/businessman, but both sufferred from severe depression. Both attempted suicide as adults. One was helped by psychoanalysis (ironically?). The psychiatrist, however, succeeded in committing suicide in 1963.(See R.E. Fancher, _Pioneers of Psycholgy_, 3rd ed., p. 313).

-- Christopher Green (cgreen@chass.utoronto.ca), April 05, 2003.

You may want to check out the book by John Watson’s Grand-daughter Mariette Hartley "Breaking the Silence". She has a theory on the reason her father (John Watson’s son) Committed suicide and she tells how he did it.

-- Taralee Hulme (taralee_t@yahoo.com), April 06, 2004.

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