Daniel M. Wegner, 65; Harvard social psychologist unraveled mysteries of thought and memory

The Boston Globe:

If you read much of Dan Wegner’s writings on psychology, pretty soon you cannot stop thinking about Dan Wegner, particularly if you try to forget him.

He could have told you that would happen. After all, he wrote a book about the difficulty of suppressing thoughts, and his research showed that the more we try to not think about something, the more likely we are to talk about what we are trying not to think about.

Those studies are detailed in “White Bears and Other Unwanted Thoughts,” his 1989 book on suppression and obsession that would have been a capstone of some careers. For Dr. Wegner, it was simply the tip of the ice floe. Though he taught social psychology at Harvard University, his work had wide application as he examined topics such as conscious will, how torture affects the perception of guilt, and the ways couples and groups decide who has to remember which details.

“Dan Wegner was surely one of the most and maybe the most original psychologist of his generation,” said Daniel Gilbert, the Edgar Pierce professor of psychology at Harvard and a longtime friend of Dr. Wegner.

Read the whole story: The Boston Globe

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