Benjamin McLane Spock, 1903 - 1998

portrait of Benjamin Spock
Miami Book Fair International, November 1989. Photo from Miami Dade County Archive

Born: 2 May 1903, New Haven, Connecticut
Died: 15 March 1998, La Jolla, California

Spock "prepped" at Andover, then entered Yale University, living at home for the first year. A member of the crew spotted the 6'4" freshman and asked him to row, the Yale "heavyweight varsity eight" brought home the Olympic gold medal from the 1924 Paris Olympics. Spock graduated in 1925, attended Yale Medical School for two years and completed his MD at Columbia in 1929. He was the first pediatrician to study psychoanalysis to better understand children and families, and was an early advocate of affection and flexibility rather than a distant treatment of children with the primary goal of discipline. Dr. Spock's Baby and Child Care, first published in 1946, has sold over 34 million copies and been translated into thirty languages, becoming the most influential book on the subject ever. It was updated several times during Spock's life as new information became available, reversing his position on sleeping position when research showed that sleeping on their backs increased sudden infant death syndrome and concluded that circumcision was "traumatic, painful, and of questionable value". In 1962 Spock joined The Committee for a Sane Nuclear Policy and spoke out against the war in Vietnam. He was arrested several times in protests and ran as the People's Party candidate in the 1972 presidential election. He was widely accused of damaging society by encouraging permissive attitudes in child rearing and encouraging a culture of instant gratification, which he and his supporters deny. (The Quotemaster was raised with guidance from Spock's book but does not remember ever reading it himself, thus cannot comment on this.) Spock died at home following a long and expensive battle with cancer.

Biography from Wikipedia and Yale Herald obituary

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