One of the seminal figures in behavior therapy, Joseph Wolpe was born in Johannesburg, South Africa, in 1915 and died in Los Angeles in 1997. The grandson of Lithuanian Jews who had fled to South Africa in the late 19th century to escape persecution, Wolpe benefited from a long tradition that valued scholarliness and respect for learning, as well as discipline and hard work. Precocious and bright, he won many scholastic contests as a child and adolescent, even completing college-level chemistry by studying on his own during his high school years.

Wolpe earned his MB (bachelor of medicine, the equivalent of the MD in the United States and other countries) in 1939 and his MD degree (a research degree) in 1948 from the University ...

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