The key players who established our department's identity, mission and vision.

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Founding Members and Early Trailblazers of the Department

William F. Fischer, Ph.D.


Dr. Fischer was born in New York City in 1934. He received his B.A. degree in psychology from the University of Michigan in 1956 and his M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in clinical-child psychology from the University of Connecticut in 1958 and 1961 respectively. He served as an instructor of psychology at the University of Connecticut from 1960 to 1961 and as a research associate and instructor of psychology and psychiatry at Yale from 1961 to 1962. At Yale, Fischer met Dr. Aaron Hershkowitz who introduced him to phenomenological thought and thus set the course for his professional career. From 1962 to 1963, Fischer studied under the German phenomenological psychiatrist, Erwin Straus, as a clinical trainee at the V.A. Hospital in Lexington, Kentucky. Under Straus's influence, he developed his interest in the study of the lived-body and life-world experiences.

In 1965, Fischer joined the faculty at Duquesne as an associate professor of psychology and was promoted to full professor in 1970. That same year saw the publication of his book, Theories of Anxiety: An Empirical-Phenomenological Study of the Experience of Being Anxious. In addition to a radical critique of the hidden philosophical anthropologies of the traditional theories of anxiety, his book articulated the structures of the experience of being-anxious and the differentiation of being-anxious from being-fearful. It was a model for empirical-phenomenological research in the area of emotions and has so served for many dissertations at Duquesne. His research interests include phenomenology and psychoanalysis, and phenomenological approaches to personality theory, psychopathology and psychotherapy, and psychoanalytic theory as revised by Jacques Lacan.

Fischer has published papers on phenomenological psychology in multiple journals, and served as the chair of the Philosophical Division of the APA. Through radio talk shows, T.V. appearances, and press interviews, Fischer has also brought phenomenological thought to the attention of the public.

Dr. Fischer served as Chairman from 1998 to 2001 and is now a Professor Emeritus at Duquesne University.