Boris Sidis

Boris Sidis

Infobox Person | name=Boris Sidis

caption=Pioneering Psychopathologist "Our asylums are driving people crazy."
birth_date=birth date|1867|10|12|mf=y
birth_place=Berdychiv, Ukraine, Russia
death_date=death date and age|1923|10|24|1867|10|12|mf=y
death_place= Portsmouth, New Hampshire, U.S.

Boris Sidis, Ph.D., M.D. (October 12, 1867 - October 24, 1923) was a Russian Jewish psychologist, physician, psychiatrist, and philosopher of education.


Born in Ukraine,ref|1 he emigrated to the U.S. in 1887 to escape political persecution. Due to the May Laws he was imprisoned for at least two years, according to William James Sidis' biographer, Amy Wallace. He later credited his ability to think to this long solitary confinement. [Wallace, Amy (1986). The prodigy: a biography of William James Sidis, America's greatest child prodigy. New York: E.P. Dutton & Co.. ISBN 0-525-24404-2.] His wife, Sarah Mandelbaum Sidis, M.D., and her family fled the pogroms about 1889.

Boris completed four degrees at Harvard, the B.A., M.A., Ph.D., and M.D., and studied under William James. He was influential in the early 20th century, known for pioneering work in psychopathology (founding the New York State Psychopathic Institute and the "Journal of Abnormal Psychology"), hypnoid states, and group psychology. He is also noted for vigorously applying the Theory of Evolution to the study of psychology.

He vehemently opposed World War I viewing war as a social disease, and denigrated the widely held concept of eugenics. He sought to provide insight into why people behave as they do, particularly in cases of a mob frenzy or religious mania. With the publication of his book "Nervous Ills: Their Cause and Cure"ref|2 in 1922, he summarized much of his previous work in diagnosing, understanding and treating nervous disorders. He saw fear as an underlying cause of much human mental suffering and problematic behavior.

Sidis applied his own psychological approaches to raising his son, William James Sidis, in whom he wished to promote a high intellectual capacity. His son has been considered among the most intelligent people ever (with an IQ broadly estimated at 250-300). However, after receiving much publicity for his childhood feats, he came to live an eccentric life, and died in relative obscurity. Boris Sidis himself derided intelligence testing as "silly, pedantic, absurd, and grossly misleading." [ [ Foundations of Normal and Abnormal psychology ] at]

With Boris' fulminations against mainstream psychology and Sigmund Freud, he died ostracized by the community he had helped create.

Partial bibliography

*"The Psychology of Suggestion: A Research into the Subconscious Nature of Man and Society (1898)
*"Psychopathological Researches: Studies in Mental Dissociation (1902)
*"Multiple Personality: An Experimental Investigation into Human Individuality (1904)
*"An Experimental Study of Sleep (1909)
*"Philistine and Genius (1911)
*"The Psychology of Laughter (1913)
*"The Foundations of Normal and Abnormal Psychology (1914)
*"Symptomatology, Psychognosis, and Diagnosis of Psychopathic Diseases (1914)
*"The Causation and Treatment of Psychopathic Diseases (1916)
*"The Source and Aim of Human Progress: A Study in Social Psychology and Social Pathology (1919)
*"Nervous Ills: Their Cause and Cure (1922)


* Sidis' birthplace is commonly listed as Kiev. However, a biographical note from his daughter ( says he was born in "Berditchev," a small town about 150 km SW of Kiev.
* His writings are available at


*Wallace, Amy, "The prodigy: A biography of William James Sidis, America's greatest child prodigy", New York: E.P. Dutton & Co. 1986. ISBN 0-525-24404-2

*"Boris Sidis." "Dictionary of American biography base set. American Council of Learned Societies, 1928-1936". Reproduced in Biography Resource Center. Farmington Hills, Mich.: Thomson Gale. 2005.

*See "External Links" for source of much of the details of Sidis's life from unpublished documents by his wife and daughter.

External links

* [ "Boris Sidis Archives"]
* [ "Nervous Ills Their Cause and Cure" - full text]
* [ The works of Boris Sidis - full online texts]

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  • Boris Sidis — (* 12. Oktober 1867 in Berdytschiw, Ukraine; † 24. Oktober 1923 in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, USA) war ein US amerikanischer Psychologe, Psychiater und Psychopathologe jüdisch russischer Herkunft …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Boris Sidis — Pour les articles homonymes, voir Sidis. Boris Sidis Boris Sidis (12 octobre 1867, Berdytchiv 24 octobre 1923 …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Sidis — bezeichnet Siddi (Volk), Volksgruppe in Indien Sidis (Saudi Arabien) Sidis (Gattung), eine Gattung der Marienkäfer Sidis ist der Familienname folgender Personen: Boris Sidis (1867 1923), US amerikanischer Psychologe russisch jüdischer Herkunft,… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Sidis — can refer to several things:* The Russian American Sidis family: **Boris Sidis (1867–1923), psychologist, psychiatrist, and psychopathologist **His son William James Sidis (1898–1944), an eccentric genius and child prodigy * Sidis , a genus of… …   Wikipedia

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  • William James Sidis — (April 1, 1898 ndash; July 17, 1944) was an American child prodigy with exceptional mathematical and linguistic abilities. He first became famous for his precociousness, and later for his eccentricity and withdrawal from the public eye. He… …   Wikipedia

  • William James Sidis — Pour les articles homonymes, voir Sidis. William James Sidis en 1914. William James Sidis (1er avril  …   Wikipédia en Français

  • William James Sidis — William James Sidis, 1914. William James Sidis (Nació el 1 de abril de 1898 en Nueva York se cree que murió de una embolia cerebral según un mito popular, el 17 de julio de 1944) es considerado como una de las personas más inteligentes de las que …   Wikipedia Español

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