Thursday, 17 March 2016

KÁROLY ÁKOS

Doctor, psychologist, writer, editor, atheist, intellectual
A great loss to Conductive Education

I have just seen the following summary of the life and career of Károly Ákos, one of Conductive Education's great missed chances. This is my rough translation into English of what it says...

Károly Ákos
doctor, psychologist, editor

Born in Budapest, 3 October 1918
Died: 19 June 2003 in Budapest

Family

Father: Márton Ákos (d. 1962) civil service accounts officer. Second wife: Magda László, doctor, from 1946. Daughters: Anna Mária Ákos (1950) and Magdolna Ákos (1953) His first wife was murdered in Auschwitz.

Education

The Péter Pázmány University general medical qualification (1942), candidate of psychological sciences (1976).

Biography

World War 2. Following forced labour (1944-1945) took part in the national resistance and then served as Chief Medical Officer in a reorganised Hungarian Army battalion (1945). Intern in the Angyalföldi Mental Hospital (1945-1946), independent associate of the Hungarian Doctors' Free Trade Union (1946-1948), professional officer in the Hungarian People's Army (1948-1953; 1950 promoted to lieutenant-colonel), commandant of the School of Health Officers (1952-1953). Candidate Fellow of the National Institute of Public Health (1953), scientific leader of the Educated People's Publishing House (editor-in-chief, 1953-1957), chief medical psychologist, Hungarian People's Army Flight Aptitude Testing Station (1958-1962), senior researcher at the MTA Psychology Commission (1962-1972), senior fellow Psycho-chronography Research Group (1973-1978?).

At the start of his scientific career he was concerned primarily with mystical consciousness and religious issues, the mechanisms of forming individual consciousness and a new original explanation of will and consciousness was created. His interest later turned to exploring, psychological and physiological aspects of the functioning of the sense organs. He and his wife, Magda László looked into the so-called critical flicker frequency (CFF) and based on this developed a psycho-chronographic method (PCG) to measure the current overall state of individual health. In the 1960s and 1970s he edited a general and professional lexicon and played a significant role in popularising science. He translated the four-volume Brehme (Lives of Animals), edited a new series of Darwin and a new series of the popular educational works written on the functioning of the nervous system, thinking and their relationship to consciousness.

Recognition

Award from SZOT, the National Council of Trade Unions (1969)

Editing

Editor The science of our time (book series), 1964-1973
Editor Hungarian Medical Review (magazine), 1945-1946

His main works

The natural religions (Bp., 1953)

The psychology of mysticism (Bp., 1955)

Unknown world: the animals (Budapest, 1960, in Russian. Moscow, 1965)

Do animals think? (Bp., 1960)

The world of senses (Bp., 1960)

Cognition (Bp., 1961)

In the footsteps of the gods, parts I-III. (Budapest: I Sunday. 1961; II The Victim, 1963; III The Devil III, 1964)

The CFF: application of the new method. (Medical Journal, 1961)

Stimulus, stimulus, mind. The psychological concepts of cleanliness (Hungarian Psychological Review, 1961)

Unknown world: man (Bp. 1962; Bulgaria, Sofia, 1966)

Nervous system. (Bp., 1963)

The soul: the development of a concept. (Bp., 1964)

The critical fusion frequency range effect, with Ákos Magda. (Psychological Studies. VII. Bp., 1965)

The Critical Flicker Frequency Effect Series, with Ákos Magda. (1967 Bp.)

Conductive Education, with Mária Hári. (Budapest, 1971; in Japanese. Osaka, 1978 and 1981; in English, London-New York, 1988-1990)

The times of turbulence. Brain and consciousness (Bp., 1975)

The origin of the psycho-chronography of consciousness, candidate's dissertation. (Bp., 1976)

The psycho-chronographical fatigue testing, with Magda Ákos (1979 Bp.)

Dina: a mother practises Conductive Education, with Magda Ákos (in German, Ulm, 1989; 2nd ed.; in English: Birmingham, 1991).

[Editor] Charles Darwin: The origin of species (Bp., 1955)

A healthy person (The world of culture, Budapest, 1959. 2nd ed. 1964)

[Editor] Charles Darwin: Changes in animals and plants during domestication (Bp., 1959-1960)

[Editor] Charles Darwin: The descent of man. (Bp., 1961)

The recent literature on the question of atheism, with Béla Lengyel and Endre Pálvölgyi. (Bp., 1961)

[Editor] Charles Darwin: The expression of man's and animals' emotions. (Bp., 1963)

[Editor] Brehm: The world of animals, parts 1-4. (Bp., 1957-1959)

[Editor] Ervin Bauer: Theoretical biology. (1967 Bp.)


The above list is not exhaustive of Ákos's complete bibiography (for example, Névpont includes items that he published in Hungarian reference books and encyclopeedias, but not in the Great Soviet Encyclopedia).

Just a little background to add here

From the Editors' Notes to the book András Pető

Károly Ákos first heard of András Pető in slightly mysterious circumstances soon after the end of World War II, but he and his wife Magda only really knew him from 1953. They became regular dinner guests at András Pető's flat and were fascinated by his work and his Institute. They were intellectuals and medical scientists, Károly's officially extensive bibliography including officially regarded popular-science writings on the nature of what makes us human.. They despaired at his failure to commit his work to paper, and were very aware of its essentially psychological nature. Károly spent a lot of time at the Institute, observing, in preparation for helping him write a book and when András Pető died in 1967 there was a suggestion that Károly should become the new Director. He declined, but later he and Magda wrote a remarkable book Dina (1991) on how parents might bring up small children conductively in their families. The Ákoses had become estranged from the Institute but in the late nineteen-eighties were discovered by some of the foreign visitors to Budapest.

(pp. 38-39)

The medical journalist Véra Szárkány went too. Her interview with the Ákoses (English translation) has been republished in András Pető (pp. 83-95).

The Ákoses and Dina have appeared before in Conductive World, more than once. Here is an example to triangulate the above item from Névpont:


He appears to have been a respectable writer on atheism. In 1966 Erwin Laszlo wrote that in the nineteen-fifties attempts at systematic atheism in Hungary had tended to deteriorate into anti-clericism and mud-slinging, but that Károly Ákos was a rare exception who, over twenty years...

...published an impressive array of books and studies popularising (at a good literary level) basic atheistic views concerning the genesis, history and current practices of the world's religions.

(p. 82)

András Pető and the Ákoses must have had some lively dinner-time discussions. Erwin László's opinion of the quality of Károly Ákos's thinking in this respect is worth heeding:


Reference

Kozák, P, (2016) Ákos Károly: orvos, pszichológus, szerkesztő, Névpont

Laszlo, E. (1966) The Communist Ideology in Hungary, Dordrecht, D. Reidel


Maguire, G., Sutton, A. (eds.) (2012) András Pető, Birmingham, CEP
http://www.blurb.co.uk/b/3695419-andr-s-pet
(Includes a link to order a copy for direct delivery)

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