PROFESSOR ELEANOR O’LEARY, University College Cork, National University of Ireland, Cork on 4 June, 2004, on the occasion of the conferring of the Degree of Doctor of Literature, honoris causa, on CARL E. THORESEN


A Sheánsailéar, a mhuintir na hOllscoile agus a dhaoine uaisle, 


“Do not forget to smell the flowers” In the awakening days of Spring, 1988, these words were uttered in my presence to doctoral students at Stanford University by the scholar whom it is my pleasure and honour to introduce to you today, Prof. Carl Thoresen. Prof. Thoresen had not forgotten that education, derived from the Latin word educare, means to bring forth not only intellectual achievement but wholeness in living. As John Henry Newman pointed out “A truly great intellect … is one which takes a connected view -----without which there is no whole, and no centre” Appreciating nature, meditating and taking time to establish worthwhile and enduring friendships are just some of the richness of life that Carl and his wife, Kay, share with their friends and, in particular, with their children, Kristen, Trig. and Amy. Truly great human beings are always well-rounded ones and are not, as James Joyce would put it, outcasts from the feast of life.


Born and raised in San Francisco, Carl Thoresen is first generation American of Norwegian ancestry. He pursued undergraduate studies in history at the University of California, Berkeley and undertook doctoral work in psychology at Stanford University. Having served as Professor at Michigan State University, he joined the faculty of Stanford in 1967 from which he retired in 2000 as Professor in the graduate School of Education and in the Departments of  Psychology and Psychiatry/Behavioural Sciences. He has been visiting Professor at the Universities of Harvard, London, Uppsala, Rome, De La Salle(Phillipines) and Tokyo and a Fulbright Professor at UCC in 2002.


Prof. Thoresen has been awarded several honours in his career including an honorary Ph.D. in Psychology from Uppsala University, Outstanding Contribution in Counselling Psychology and Health of the Division of Counselling Psychology of the American Psychological Association and Outstanding Contribution in Psychology and Counselling of the American Counselling Association. He is an elected Fellow of several major organisations, including the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Psychological Association and the Society of Behavioural Medicine. Prof. Thoresen’s publications are extensive numbering more than 200.


In the 1970’s, Prof. Thoresen gained national recognition for a new scientific approach in providing psychological help called behavioural counselling and which he outlined in a book with Prof. John Krumboltz. Like William James, he wished by treating psychology as a natural science to help her become one. A further development ensued when he integrated this method with those that were more experiential and humanistic in orientation. This synthesis “Behavioural Humanism  demonstrated how behavioural approaches could be instrumental in realising humanistic goals and objectives. His work was recognised by the well - known psychologist of the last century, B.F.Skinner, and helped to set the stage for the development of integrative initiatives in psychotherapy. As John Dewey once said "Every great advance in science has issued from a new audacity of imagination"


Prof. Thoresen was the first psychologist to research an important area of service, namely, behaviour and health care for coronary patients. With cardiologist, Meyer Friedman, he conducted a major controlled study with 1,012 patients using behavioural counselling to examine whether they could learn and use self-control methods to change their behavioural patterns of living. Results over eight years demonstrated not only that such behaviour patterns could be changed but also that the number of recurring heart attacks could be reduced by more than 40%.


In the late nineteen eighties, Prof. Thoresen became interested in whether spirituality could be studied scientifically and, if so, would evidence show that spiritually related activities influence health and disease? Based upon his research in this area, he received several grants, such as The Stanford Forgiveness Project, and was invited to be a member of the expert panel on Spirituality, Religion and Health of the National Institutes of Health(NIH). Recently, he established the Spirituality and Health Institute of Santa Clara University which focuses on practices such as meditation and seeks scientific data relating to questions which include Who do individuals look to as exemplars of how to live a more spiritually focused life? As with Robert Frost, Prof. Thoresen´s object in living is to unite.


In conclusion, I present Prof. Thoresen to the Chancellor of the National University of Ireland as a scholar and pioneer of international standing in psychology, health counselling and the science of spirituality. Nach linn ata an t-adh gur annseo I gColaiste Ollscoile Chorchai ata an cheim onora Dochtura a bronnadh againn ar an duine eirimiuil agus cailiuil seo.





            Praesento vobis hunc meum filium, quem scio tam moribus quam doctrina habilem et idoneum esse qui admittatur, honoris causa, ad gradum Doctoratus in Litteris,  idque tibi fide mea testor ac spondeo, totique Academiae.