Dr. Emilio Mira y López
Emilio Mira y Lopez is considered to be the most
outstanding psychiatrist and psychologist of the Spanish speaking world in
the 20th century.
Dr. Mira y Lopez was born in Santiago de Cuba on October 24, 1896. His father, a Spanish military physician who specialised in tropical diseases, had been sent to the island, and was stationed there with his wife at that time. Two years later, in 1898, following the defeat of the Spanish Army in Cuba, the family moved back to Spain. After a brief stay in La Coruña, they established their residence in Barcelona in 1903. For that reason, Dr. Mira y Lopez grew up in Catalonia and always considered himself, and was considered, as a Catalan.
In 1917, at the age of 20, he received his medical degree with extraordinary honours from the University of Barcelona. In 1923 he was also awarded his doctor's degree with extraordinary honours from the University of Madrid.
His role in the introduction and development of modern professional guidance and selection in Spain was decisive. The Government Institute that he led in Barcelona from 1926 to 1938 became famous throughout Europe. He also translated the main works of German psychiatry - regarded at that time as the best of Europe - into Spanish and spread knowledge of psychoanalytic theories. His book "The Psychoanalysis", published in "Monografies Mediques" in Barcelona in July 1926, was one of the first on the subject published in the country.
In 1933, he was elected to occupy the first professorship of psychiatry created at the Autonomous University of Barcelona, thus becoming the first chairman of this speciality in the history of Spanish Universities.
Dr. Mira y Lopez was president of a number of International Congresses on Psychology and Psychotecnics. Especially outstanding were his scientific works the "Manual of Psychiatry", the "Manual of Juridical Psychology" and his "Myokinetic Psychodiagnosis" test (PMK), which was presented at the Royal Society of Medicine, in London in 1939. This test has generated since then more than 300 studies and doctoral thesis all over the world, and is still being successfully used in many countries. Its main quality is the guaranteed veracity of the answers, since the person under examination is unable to control them. The test is therefore able to detect, among many other personality traits, potential aggression in individuals.
During the Spanish Civil War, the Catalan Government named Dr. Mira y Lopez Director of the Institute of Professional Adaptation for Women (preparing women for taking on the jobs of men who were at the front line) and later, in 1938, the Ministry of National Defence named him Chief of Psychiatric Services of the Republican Army.
After the Republican defeat in February 1939 and two months exile in France, he moved with his family to London, where he received a fellowship from Maudsley Hospital. There he completed work on his test and presented to the psychiatric section of the Royal Society of Medicine. With the beginning of the Second World War, he travelled to America. Thus, after an extensive tour of conferences and lectures at the main Universities in the Americas, he settled in Argentina, working as a psychiatrist in a private sanatorium and being invited to give courses at different schools of the University of Buenos Aires.
In 1942, Dr. Mira y Lopez was invited by the Academy of Medicine of New York, as a "Salmon Lecturer" following his election as "scientist of the year" for his contributions to the field of Psychiatry.
In 1943, he was appointed Director of Psychiatric Services and Mental Hygiene in the province of Santa Fe, Argentina. Shortly after, in 1944 he was appointed by the Ministry of Education of the Uruguayan Government to set up and manage an institute of Professional Guidance in Montevideo.
In 1945, the government of the state of São Paulo in Brazil appointed him to teach technical training in professional Guidance to future civil servants. The success of this course resulted in Dr. Mira y Lopez being invited by the Getulio Vargas Foundation, the most important foundation in Brazil, to become Founding Director of the Professional Guidance and Selection Institute in Rio de Janeiro.
For the next 18 years, until he passed away, Dr. Mira y Lopez worked intensively, creating branches of the Institute in different Brazilian cities. He travelled frequently, invited by different Latin American Universities as well as European congresses.
He was named honorary member of many Psychology and Psychiatry associations throughout Central and South America. His books were regularly published in Argentina, Brazil and Mexico, and his articles where distributed in many Latin American newspapers by the Prensa Latina ( Latin Press) Agency.
His many other activities included:
1955: named Vice-president for the Atlantic Region of the Inter-American Psychology Association. 1958: Invited to reorganise the Department of Psychology of the Central University of Venezuela. 1960: named by Unesco as expert in Experimental Psychology teaching courses at the National University of La Plata (Argentina). 1962: invited by Unesco to attend international seminar on scientific psychology in Caen (Normandy, France).
In 1964, after conducting an intensive course on medical psychology at the Medical School of the National University of Cuyo (Mendoza, Argentina), Dr. Mira y Lopez suffered a second myocardial attack. He subsequently passed away a month and a half later, on February 16, 1964.
Emilio Mira y Lopez left behind generations of teachers, psychologists, psychiatrists and psycho-technicians, educated through his teaching, theories, his many courses and conferences, and his more than thirty publications (many of which are still published in Brazil, Argentina and Mexico.)
In Spain, he remained unknown during many years of the Franco dictatorship. It was only thanks to the courageous attitude of Dr. Juan Obiols, head of the department of psychiatry of the University of Barcelona, that a succession of acts acknowledging his work were organised. In 1972 Dr. Obiols organised a gathering of the most prominent Spanish psychiatrists to pay homage to Dr. Mira y Lopez, and dedicated the first issue of his department review to him.
Among the many subsequent acts of dedication were the inauguration of a square with his name in Barcelona in 1993, the publication of a book about his life and work, and several commemorative acts to mark the centenary of his birth in 1996 in Barcelona and Madrid. The Schools of Psychology and Medicine of both cities and the Catalan Government participated in these events. Other events have included the publication of a letter of recognition signed by more than 200 authorities and institutions representing the world of psychiatry, medicine and culture; the publication of his last lectures by the University of Barcelona and the UNED of Madrid; and a dedication in his memory at the first Catalan Assembly of Mental Health in February 1999. Finally a commemorative plaque was unveiled in December 1999 on the building where he lived in Barcelona, before going into exile. This plaque was presented jointly by the Catalan Assembly of Mental Health and the Association of Medical Doctors from Barcelona.
Before closing, we would like to call attention to the naming "Dr. Mira y López", in June 2003, by the Provincial Government of Barcelona, of the Healthcare Centers of his ownership sitted in the Torribera Enclosure, in the town of Santa Coloma de Gramenet, neighboring the capital city. These cover both Mental Health and Public Health services. Moreover, we wish to mention the publication by the said authority of two books, one containing Prof. Mira's last lecture before his death, and the other giving a complete information about his life and works, based on the contents of the present web.
1. He rised Spanish psychology to the level of the best
of occidental psychology through the introduction in his publications of
experimental psychology, juridical psychology, as well as the works
of the most prominent German psychiatrists and the psychoanalytical
theories of Freud and Jung.
2. He introduced and developed Professional Guidance in
Spain and headed the institute that became famous throughout
3. He was the first University professor of Psychiatry in
Spain, at the Autonomous University of Barcelona.
4. He was a keen supporter of psychosomatic unity, and
amplified this vision to include the psycho-bio-social concept of men. He
pointed out the importance of the family in the maintenance of neurosis,
being a pioneer of family therapy in Spain, and at a more advanced
stage, the importance of the social milieu. He stated "There cannot be a
healthy individual within a sick society". This explains his interest in
getting the medical world involved in finding solutions to social
problems, by seeking to influence Government agencies and the country's
5. He introduced a new vision of medicine, defining the
patient as: "a person who suffers or causes suffering to others" and
medicine itself as "the science whose goal is the elimination of
human suffering." He considered somatotherapy (body therapy)
together with psychotherapy (mind therapy) as a unit. He saw health, or
biological normality as the most perfect dynamic equilibrium obtainable
between the properties of a being, and the best possible efficacy
obtainable in its reactions." Neither of the two isolated attitudes
by themselves are effective, as human beings always require integrated
treatment: Medicine requires a constant and adequate utilisation of
both resources: the psychological tools as well as the biochemical and
6. Dr. Mira y Lopez unified or combined medicine with
psychology, considering psychiatry as a branch of both, especially
concerned with abnormal cases or, according his own definition, with
"morbid perturbations of the activities of the psyche aiming at correcting
them". Psychiatric physicians must then first learn psychology, in order
to be first clinical psychologists, since knowledge of normal
cases should precede the study of abnormal cases, because the abnormal
must be understood starting from the point of view of
7. Dr. Mira y Lopez produced a detailed study of
psychoanalysis, delineating three fundamental dimensions: psychoanalysis
as an explorative method, as a doctrine and as a therapy. As an
explorative method, he considered most valuable the technique of
determined associations of Jung -a technique that he perfected- also
giving value to his theory of the collective unconscious. As a
doctrine, he didn't completely agree with the theory of the libido
and the scarce role assigned to the ego, along with its pessimistic view
of man and society. And, with regard to the efficiency of the therapeutic
method, although he recognised the importance of having demolished the
censure of the conscious mind, and recommending its application in many
cases, he was strongly critical of other areas of the theory.
8. Dr. Mira y Lopez proposed and practised numerous improvements in psychiatric treatment searching the well-being of patients. He was one of the first psychiatrists to observe and describe self- government and organisation among patients after he observed abandoned patients organising themselves efficiently to help and take care of each other, after the exodus of many health care and hospital workers in the Spanish Civil War.
9. Dr. Mira y Lopez created the only known personality test that guarantees that the subject is unable to modify the sincerity of his answers. This test is 100% reliable, since answers are obtained under technical conditions that exclude voluntary control. Answers come from the natural tendencies anchored in one of the most profound areas of the psyche; the miopsyche,(from the Greek word mio, muscle). The psychiatric diagnosis is established through the peculiarities of certain movements performed by the subject, hence the name Psychodiagnosis Myokinetic. This psychological diagnosis through muscular movements (also known as PMK from its Spanish name Psicodiagnóstico Miokinético) was seen by Dr. Mira as his major contribution to science.
10. He promoted the requirement that judges should be aware of psychology as well as the importance of preventing rather than punishing crime.
11. His contribution to psycho-pedagogy includes many lectures and numerous publications. He believed in the need to teach morality and ethics to children and the profound importance of education in contributing to the construction of a better society.
12. In all his fields of research, he studied in depth
all schools and authors, taking the best contributions of each. He was in
that sense inclined to adopt an eclectic rather than dogmatic approach.
His work united scientific rigor with clarity of thought and language in
To catalogue and explain all of Dr. Mira y Lopez's work
is a difficult task, since all of those who have studied it, point out the
spread of interests and activities Dr. Mira y Lopez cultivated
throughout his life. In this respect, professor Lafuente
Lafuente goes on to state in a different text:
In fact, the breadth of his work is not dispersed, since it was always coherently directed toward one objective: the search for the harmony and well being of the individual (his integral psychophysical health), immersed in its social milieu.
His biographer, Dr. Luis Iruela says:
The two opinions are not contradictory, but complementary. To better understand this, it is necessary to take into account the influences on him in his youth:
His attendance as a student (1914-17), at the laboratory of the School of Physiology of the University of Barcelona, under the direction of Augusto Pi Sunyer who, along with Ramón Turró, represented at that moment positivist thinking in Catalunya. This helped him to shape the use of a positive methodology, a genetic and evolutionary vision of organisms, as well as a unitary and functional conception of the same. Both scientists supported Dr. Mira's firm ideas about the psychophysical unity of the individual and gave him a formal base from which to fuse physiology and psychology within medicine with the objective of the well-being of the individual.
At the same time, his translations of the work of prestigious German psychologists and psychiatrists also awakened his interest in the human psyche. Both influences determined the theme of his doctoral thesis, presented at the University of Madrid in 1922 on " The somatic correlations of mental work" which was the first work on experimental psychology done in Spain.
However, his work was not confined to this area. The
study of Freud's work, directly from the original German, convinced him,
in spite of his disagreement on certain aspects, of the importance of
the psychoanalytic theories.
We finally need to mention his humanitarian interests at a social level, which were awakened during his visits to the poor neighbourhoods of Barcelona as a medical student. These led him to be one of the founders of the Socialist Union of Catalunya in 1923 and to teach free courses to workers at the Popular Encyclopaedic Ateneo of Barcelona. This interest not only persisted, but increased throughout his life, as his words late in his life indicate: "we cannot attain healthy minds in a sick society" and that the old saying "mens sana in corpore sano" (healthy mind in a healthy body) should be reversed to "mens sana in societas sana" (healthy mind in a healthy society).
Briefly: Dr. Mira has left a strong thread of his name in all the fields he cultivated, including all aspects and branches of psychiatry and psychology. For him, there was only one important theme: - the study of men with the aim of attaining maximum state of health and well being. Towards the end of his life, he widened the concept of psychosomatic medicine to include integral or eubiatric medicine, (from the Greek eu, well-being and bios, life), the medicine that teaches how to live well. He arrived at the conclusion that if health comes from the harmonic functioning of all the organs, including the psyche, then all sciences that relate to the well being of men should be included in the field of medicine. Thus, integral medicine would require the collaboration of physicians, hygienists, lawyers, teachers, economists, sociologists and politicians to create the social conditions under which men could lead healthy, happy lives.
"Pragmatic man of science and idealist at the same time", as Dr. Lafuente defines him, he dreamed of a future in which the human living condition would reduce to a minimum, cases of suffering and mental maladjustment. As Dr. Mira states in his preface to his "Manual of Psychotherapy", " It is not enough to console, we have to fight bravely for the human personality to confront pain and suffering with something more than passive resignation. We only have one war to declare: the war against unhappiness and death."
Dr. Mira's interest in Psychology started early in his
life, as a result of his studies in medicine. The influence of well known
physiologist Augusto Pi Sunyer in whose laboratory he collaborated,
first as a student and after as assistent professor, contributed to the
life-long development of his ideas concerning the functional unity of
organisms and led him to conceive the human being as a psychophysical
unity. This explains why he considered medicine and psychology as one,
since the mission of the physician is to cure a human being, not only a
physical body, or a psyche.
As Iruela states: "For Dr. Mira, the psychological emerges from the physiological and reaches plenitude in the social, in the adaptation of man to the world that surrounds him, following a course of increasing complexity."
With respect to the human personality, he had dynamic,
integral and evolving concepts which coincided with those of Stern,
stating that the individual psycho-physiological totality that
characterises all organisms, adopts, in the case of human beings,
the form of an individual unit that acts intentionally, and is auto and
hetero referent. It lives and feels alive.
Dr. Mira would say that both the personalogy of Stern and modern psychiatry converged in pointing out the importance of the evolutive study of personal integration. It is only by following the psychological life of the subject step by step (thanks to a carefully obtained social scientific biography), that it will be possible to trace the scheme of his personality. This concept of personality takes into account both endogenous factors (physical constitution, temperament and intelligence) and exogenous ones, (the experience of learned situations) in a dynamic and evolutive synthesis, with the end result the formation of character.
Thus, personality would be, as conceived by Dr. Mira, the
harmonious meeting of three fundamental instances: intelligence,
temperament and character, regulated by a forth one, the ego.
Intelligence, in turn, would be the integral result of the activity
of the cognitive functions; temperament, the result of the activity of the
affective functions, and character, the result of conative functions
(those voluntary activities that are initiated by intention and
materialise in action).
Psychology and Medicine.-
Dr. Mira y Lopez admitted diverse classifications of psychology, depending on the point of view being used. Taking the criteria of practical application, he distinguished medical psychology, educational, industrial, juridical, social, etc. In all of these areas the presence of psychology is indispensable. In the case of medical psychology, it would almost be a redundancy, since medicine in its involvement in curing a person integrates not only physiology, but also psychology. And Dr, Mira states: "We can say that Medical Psychology is to psychotherapy (psychical therapy) as human physiology is to somatotherapy (physical therapy) : the obliged antecedent".
Finally, it is important to emphasise that he considers psychiatry a medical psychology occupied with abnormal cases. His biographer, L.M. Iruela says that Dr. Mira was clearly open to all possible influences that he used in a personal and original way: he had a scientific attitude free of prejudice and a sincere desire to extract common points of view from the diverse psychological opinions and to make them converge by finding common points.
Evaluation of psychoanalysis within psychology.-
Dr, Mira distinguished in psychoanalysis three clearly differentiated fundamental dimensions; a method of exploration, a doctrine and therapeutic.
As a method of exploration:
As a doctrine:
As a therapeutic method:
Merits of Psychoanalysis.-
Dr. Mira states that none of these negative points
contradict its positive contributions. Psychoanalysis has contributed to
the destruction of the rationalism that dominated the fields of
European philosophy and psychology at the end of XIX century, as
well as the voluntarism doctrines of kantian origin, favouring a critique
of the excessive evaluation of the ratio. From a therapeutic point of
view, it has put more emphasis on the study of the patient globally than
in the diagnosis and treatment of its symptoms:
In 1932, Dr. Mira published his "Manual of Juridical
Psychology" with materials from his experience at the Institute for
Professional Guidance under his direction, and notes from a course about
legal medicine he had taught at the University of Barcelona School of Law.
He linked juridical psychology with psychiatry and psychology, signalling
as his basic objective the prevention of delinquency and the social
rehabilitation of those who had already committed crimes. It is directed
at Judges, with the aim of providing them with data and knowledge about
psychology, to help make their work more effective.
Psycho-technique and Professional Orientation.-
While the psychology studies in Madrid were geared
towards the neurophysiological research of Ramon y Cajal, Simarro or
Lafora, in Catalunya psychology took a practical stand, being applied to
the study of human labour in the search for a plan to obtain better
efficiency in the world of the worker This followed the modern
orientations of sociology and economics. This was one of Dr. Mira's most
successful fields of work, when as head of department of Psychometry from
1919, he was appointed director of the Institute of Professional
Orientation (IPO) in 1926, which at the time was under the School of
Labour of the municipal government.
At the "Instituto de Seleção e Orientação Profesional", he revived research he had been carrying out in Spain, finally being appointed Secretary General of the Psychotechnique Brazilian Association in 1950, and Vice-President for the Atlantic Region of the Inter-American Society of Psychology. The Brazilian government entrusted him not only with the selection of drivers for public vehicles, but also with the selection of those aspiring to enter a diplomatic career in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Dr. Mira defines professional orientation as "a
scientific action, complex and persistent with the aim of attaining that
each individual practices a type of work in which he can with
minimal effort obtain the maximum profit and satisfaction for himself and
for society". Or, more exactly "the scientific adjustment of the
"doing" to the "being". He emphasised the fact that what we
try to determine is not a specific profession but a "type of work" which
can be equally found in quite different occupations. In an inverse way, it
is also possible to find professions that contain several types of
Since there is nothing more distressing for a professional than being considered not suitable for a job or position and not having the aptitude or appropriate skills, it is necessary to prevent these situations. That is one of the main services offered by professional orientation: to avoid the discovery "a posteriori" of the lack of the individual's skills. But this does not mean that professionals with a minimum of aptitudes can be classified in a hierarchical way and selected according to the differences compared to the average. Thus, professional selection becames positive instead of negative because instead of finding who is not qualified to fill in a certain position, it points to who is better or most suitable and, at the same time, who is better suited for other positions.
Besides the Myokinetic test, (initially conceived in use for professional orientation and perfected later to be a personality test ), Dr. Mira developed a new type of classification of intelligence. He considered that the majority of metric scales for intelligence only calculated the mean value of conceptual, perceptive and effective intelligence or capacity for self-control, establishing an average or mean value that would be called factor G or "General intelligence". This information is not enough for professional guidance, so he adopted a more empirical viewpoint, trying to find the mean value of three groups of intellectual correlations. This he calls mechanical or space intelligence, verbal intelligence and abstract intelligence. Their average value would be the factor G.
It is important to point to the fact that since 1965 the descriptions of analysis of work promoted by the OIT were centred in this triple differentiation. This is a decisive contribution to the field of psychology with which the apparently insurmountable confrontation between the multi factorial stand of Thurstone and the multi modal stand of Thorndike was overcome.
His fundamental work on this subject is the “Manual de Orientación Profesional” published in Buenos Aires by Editorial Kapelusz in 1947.
In 1931, when the Institute for Professional Orientation
directed by Dr. Mira became Psychotecnique Institute of the Catalan
Government, its activities were widened, the number of collaborators
increased, and a psychopedagogy department was created. One of
its aims was to contact with pedagogic renovation movements of that time
in Catalunya, (Escola Nova) and to provide them with the necessary
foundation in psychology.
But his interest in psychology of education was not new. In 1924, he had translated the work of Otto Lipmann, director of the Institute for Applied Psychology of Berlin, "Psychology for teachers" from German. His ideas about the subject were similar to the work of Claparède and Decroly, and most important, they coincided widely with the ideas of the "Escola Nova" that where also his own. So, he established links between his Institute and the new currents of foreign psychopedagogy, especially with the Institute J.J. Russeau, of Sciences of Education of the University of Geneva, directed by Claparède.
As Director of the institute, he had always tried to prevent it being converted into a bureaucratic office, by always aiming to transform professional guidance into a real science, serving the individual, according to social and human progress and rooted in positivist ideas and socialist expression. Since 1933, Dr. Mira had welcomed physicians, psychologists and psychoanalysts escaping Nazi persecution. That same year he founded, together with one of those refugees, Dr. Alfred Strauss, and a Catalan colleague, Dr.Jeroni de Moragues, the first clinic for observation and treatment of alterations in child behaviour in a Latin country. The clinic was equipped with the most modern techniques of the time, among them, an observation camera and hosted many excellent courses. This clinic was totally destroyed in 1936, in the first months of the Civil War.
Later, in South America, Dr. Mira published several books on this subject: "Evolutive psychology of the child and adolescent"; "How to study and learn" and "The child that doesn't learn".
Psychology. Activities and positions filled.-
1919: Director of the Psychology Laboratory of the Institute for Professional Orientation and Selection of Barcelona.
1921: Secretary of the ll International Conference of Psychotechnique, Barcelona.
1923: Official reporter on the III International Conference of Psychotechnique (Milan). Reporter in the VII International Congress of Psychology in Oxford, where he is named member of the International Committee of Psychologists.
1926: Director of the Institute for Professional Orientation and Selection of Barcelona. Gives course on Psychoanalisis in the Academy of Medical Sciences
1927: Official reporter of the V International Conference of Psychotechnique (Utrecht), member of the directive committee of the Société International de Psychotechnique, (Paris). Conferences at the Medical Society for Psychology of Vienna. Teaches course in Psychology at the Popular Encyclopaedic Ateneo.
1928: General Secretary of the Academy and Laboratory of
1929: Teaches course on Juridical Psychology at the
School of Law of the University of Barcelona.
1930: President of the VI International Conference of Psychotechnique in Barcelona.
1931: Teaches course in Psychology at the University of
Labour in Barcelona. Reporter for the VII International Conference of
1932: President of the XI International Conference of Psychology (Copenhagen). Teaches course of Experimental Psychology at the School of Philosophy, Barcelona.
1933: Special guest and main speaker at the annual reunion of the American Society for the Advancement of Science (Section psychology) together with W.Kohler, W.Spearman, and Henry Piéron. Founder, together with Joaquin Xirau, of the Review of Psychology and Pedagogy.
1934: VIII International Conference of Psychotechnique, (Prague). Professor of Child Psychology and Child Psychopathology at the School of Pedagogy of the University of Barcelona.
1935: President of the Spanish League of Mental Hygiene.
1936: Named President for the I International Conference for Scientific Psychology that had to take place in Madrid, event that was cancelled due to the Civil War.
1937: Director of the Institute for Professional Adaptation of Women from the Catalan Government. Honorary President of the International League for Mental Hygiene, (Paris). Member of the Superior Cultural Board of the Spanish Republic.
1939: Research fellow of the "British Society for protection of Science and Learning." Research projects at Maudsley Hospital and Mill Hospital in London, presented before the Royal Academy of Sciences as a base for his test Myokinetic Psychodiagnostic.
1941: Guest professor to teach summer courses at the University of Chile. Professor of Psychology at the Free School of Superior Studies of Buenos Aires. Teaches curse of Psychotherapy at the School of Medicine of the University of Buenos Aires, besides other Argentine Universities.
1944: Signs a contract with the Ministry of Education of Uruguay to found and direct an Institute for Professional Orientation in Montevideo.
1945: Hired to teach courses to public functionaries of the State of São Paulo, Brazil, to form technicians in professional orientation.
1946: Named organizer and founding director for the Institute of Selection and Professional Orientation. (ISOP) of the Getúlio Vargas Foundation, in Rio de Janeiro.
1947-48: Teaches courses in Guatemala, Mexico, Cuba and Venezuela.
1949: Named organizer and supervisor of the Service of Professional Orientation of the Department of Education of the State of Minas Gerais (Brazil).
1950: Chosen by unanimity Secretary General at the Brazilian Association of Psychotechnique
1954: Teaches intensive courses for three months at the University of Santa Clara, Cuba.
1955: Vice president for the Atlantic Region of the Inter American Society of Psychology, (Rio de Janeiro).
1956: Teaches course of Psychology at the University of Camaguey (Cuba).
1958: Invited by the University of Venezuela to reorganize during three months their department of Psychology. Reporter in the XIII Congress of the International Association of Applied Psychology.
1959: Organizer and supervisor of the Institute of Vocational Orientation of the University of Bahia (Brazil).
1960: Named Expert in Experimental Psychology by Unesco, to teach courses at the department of Psychology of the School of Humanities at the National University of La Plata, (Argentina). Honorary member of the Argentinean Association of Psychosomatic Medicine.
1962: Guest professor for summer courses in psychology at the University of Quito (Ecuador), and named honorary professor for the School of Philosophy at the same University. Invited to participate at the International Seminar of Scientific Psychology of Audiovisual Media, sponsored by Unesco, in Caen (Normandy).
1963: Invited by the School of Medical Sciences of the University of Cuyo, (Mendoza, Argentina), to teach an intensive course on Medical Psychology in November.
He passes away in Brazil, in February 1964.
According to Dr. Iruela, "The uniqueness of Dr. Mira 's
focussing of psychiatry within the scientific Spanish panorama consisted
in starting from the psychological study of normal man to get to
understand the pathological phenomena of the mind. The same way we proceed
from physiology to understand pathological physiology.
And he illustrates his words with a transcription from
the studied author:
Dr. Iruela clarifies that the fact that Dr. Mira starts
from psychology to understand psychiatry doesn't mean he disputes the
medical and biological character of this last discipline. Rather it would
be the opposite, since for him, psychology was a branch of biology. And he
gives Dr.Mira's definition of psychiatry:
In relation to psychopathology, he conceives psychopathological disturbances as the alteration of the different functions of the psyche. With respect to aetiology, Dr. Mira thinks that "a mental diagnosis can have its origin in different causes, and vice versa, the same etiologic agent can cause different mental disturbances".
Already, in the 20's, Dr. Mira had advanced the
hypothesis of the temperamental, (affective) origin of the vast majority
of mental disturbances, thus, in 1946 he stated:
Dr. Mira elaborated a classification of mental illness full of clarity and practicality:
He stated that these disturbances are not incompatible
with each other, and can happen simultaneously or in succession in the
Dr. Mira had a special interest in the treatment of neurosis, which he divided in two major groups: psychoneurosis and organoneurosis. He considered the first to include those who appear to be determined by a comprehensive psychological motivation, whereas in the second, the prevailing factor are its physical symptoms, most of the time localized in a specific organ or system.
Iruela considers a valuable contribution, Dr. Mira's emphasis on the importance of the use of psychotherapy in the treatment of neurosis and his strong intuition about the equally important influence of the pathology of the family in maintaining neurotic symptoms. Thus, he recommended the need to have the family nucleus under the same plan of treatment, becoming a pioneer in family therapy in Spain.
He established norms for psychiatric assistance using
modern criteria, implementing measures to improve the care and well being
of the mentally ill, both in close and opened psychiatric clinics, and
recognized the right of internal patients to lead normal sex
As a professor of psychiatry, he implemented a new method of teaching at that time, including the active participation of students based on their clinical experience with patients.
In the Review of Psychiatry of the School of Medicine at the University of Barcelona, (Vol.XXXIV N 2 March-April 1997) Professor C. Gastó details, one by one, the considerable number of contributions made by Dr Mira in the study of the different pathologies, and he ends with an analysis of the two volumes of the "Manual of Psychiatry" (1946) which he defines as a compendium of Mira's ideas concerning psychopathology. Professor Gastó emphasizes his interest in differential analysis or, in other words, on his belief that "not all morbid phenomena obey a unique cause", and he clarifies that "Mira, although an integrator of theories, never tried to eliminate competitive ones". He also highlights Mira' s attitude as a clinical doctor, never ignoring badly defined or atypical morbid forms, in the domain of the terrain of the endogenous, as well as in the terrain of abnormal reactions.
With reference to Dr. Mira's therapeutic psychiatry,
His main contribution to this field is his "Treatise of Psychiatry" first published in Barcelona, in 1935. A second publication in two volumes was made in 1942 in Buenos Aires , by Editorial El Ateneo and in 1955, the same library published the fourth edition amplified to three volumes, including 1.500 pages, (vol.I Medical Psychology and Psychopathology , vol. ll Clinical Psychiatry and vol.III. Diagnostic, Assistance Treatment and Prophylaxis in Psychiatry). This last edition, the more complete, was also published in Portuguese by Editora Cientifica of Rio de Janeiro the following year. Several generations of Spanish and Latin American psychiatrists have studied this treatise, and it has been said that except for the differences with today's pharmacological treatments, very little needs to be changed in order to adapt it to current psychiatry.
Other books on the subject are "Psychiatry of War" first published by Ed. Norton, New York, 1943 and translated to Spanish and published next year by Editorial Médico Quirúrgica in Buenos Aires; "Basic Psychiatry" (292 pages) and "Compendium of Psychiatry" (452 pages), both published in Spanish by Editorial El Ateneo in Buenos Aires in 1948.
Psychiatry. Activities and positions filled.-
1925: Physician of the Psychiatric Services of the Town Council of Barcelona. Member of the Société de Clinique Mentale.
1927: Founder and co-director for the medical rest house for nervous disorders named "Bonavista" in the outsides of Barcelona.Secretary for the 33 Congress of Psychiatry and Neurology (Paris)
1932: Director-consultant for the Institute "Pere Mata" of Reus (Catalunya)
1933: Appointed by unanimity to occupy the first
professorship of psychiatry created in Spain, at the University of
1934: Director of the Psychiatric Sanatory of San Baudilio (section women). President for the Spanish League of Mental Hygiene.
1936: Reporter at the Congress for Physicians and Neurologists of French Culture celebrated in Zurich. Honorary Vice-president of the International League for Mental Hygiene, (Paris).
1938: Chief of the Psychiatric Services of the Republican Army of Spain, with military degree of lieutenant colonel while he was in services.
1939: Conferences about Psychiatry of War in the USA at the Universities of Princeton, Yale, Chicago and Washington. Guest professor at the University of Havana.
1940: Argentina, consulting psychiatrist at a private sanatorium for mentally ill. Conferences at the National University of Buenos Aires. Honorary member of the Argentine Society of Psychiatry.
1941: Guest professor for summer courses at the University of Chile.
1942: "Salmon lecturer" at the Academy of Medicine in New
York, for having been elected as the more outstanding psychiatrist of the
1943: Named director of the Psychiatric Services and Mental Hygiene for the province of Santa Fe, Argentina.
1947: Honorary professor of psychiatry at the University
of Yucatan, (Mexico), and honorary member of the Venezuelan Psychiatric
1948: IDORT Award de 1948, São Paulo, Brazil (received in 1949)
1954: Honorary member of the Cuban Society of Neurology and Psychiatry. Honorary member of the Society for Psychiatry, Neurology and Neurosurgery of Cordoba, Argentina.
1960: Honorary member of the Academy of Mental health of New York.
1962; Member of the American Academy of Psychotherapists, New York.
History and name origin.-
One of the most important legacies of Dr. Mira to science, is his test for personality, initially presented before the psychiatric section of the Royal Academy of Medicine of London in October 1939, under the title: "The Myokinetic Psychodiagnistic. A new device for detecting the cognative trends of personality". The test was named by its author as Myokinetic Psychodiagnostic and known commonly as PMK or Mira's test. It started to become known first in South America during the 40's, meanwhile his author, living successively in Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil, was gathering more data and perfecting it. In the 50's, it was translated and published into other languages, the most remarkable publishing done in France, by the Centre de Psicologie Appliquée de Paris, owner of the international rights. It was there where the Editorial Paidós, from Argentina, obtained the publishing rights for Spanish language, publishing through the years several issues. During these years multiple articles, studies and doctoral theses were published about the test.
In 1989, Dr. Mira’s widow, Alice M. Galland, who had worked with him on that matter almost 20 years and continued after, published in Portuguese an extensive work collecting all the experience gathered before and after his death, and the improvements they applied together. The work offers also a complete relation and description of each of the studies and practical experiences (almost 300) done by different scientists in different countries on the PMK, These studies in its vast majority contribute to prove its efficiency, not only in what his author had thought, but even into a wider field that includes the discovery of many diseases. The book, in two volumes, was published by editorial Vetor of São Paulo, Brazil www.vetor-editora.com.br/, and that same editorial has published the Spanish version in 2002.
Dr. Mira was looking for a test that would not be subject
to fraud or simulation by the examined individual. In his own words, we
will explain what it consists of and why it was named Myokinetic
Basic description of the test.-
It is a test of graphic expression whose aim is to detect what we call the "attitudinal formula" of the examined individual, or - using a more expressive although less exact example "his psychological skeleton", that is to say, the fundamental reaction tendencies, which constitute his peculiarities of temperament and character.
The technical principle of PMK.-
It is the following:
The principle of Myokinetic dissociation.-
Derived from Werner Wolff’s observations of facial
expression, gestures and compared movements of both body halves. Each one
of us has a half of our body that is dominant (usually the right,
which corresponds to the left hemisphere of the brain, which is
where we find the speech centres.) This dominant half (left in case of
left handed people), is more evolved but at the same time, more unstable,
as a result of being easily subjected to the fluctuations of tension
in the individual conscience; instead, the dominated half, forgotten and
barely evolved, stays practically the same from infancy through old age.
The test requires a 6 page numbered notebook where different types of sketches have to be completed. These are the following:
Lineograms - zig-zags - stairs and cycles - chains- parallels in outside direction and vertical Us - parallels in inside direction and sagittal Us.The individual sits in front of a table with a wooden board in which the pages of the test will be successively fixed. This is done in two sessions: in the first, the sketches up to the sagital chains are obtained and in the second, (preferably a week later), the test is concluded.When given the instructions, any mention of it being a personality test is avoided. If the person asks any questions, he is only told that we are checking the precision and confidence of his movements.
The individual holds a pen and starts going over the sketches in the paper, holding it vertically, and is instructed to continue in spite of a screen put in front of him so he cannot see the graphics. In all of them they go all the way to the end and back, with the right hand , then with the left and then with both simultaneously, always on an horizontal plane, but sometimes on a vertical plane. Everyone of the figures in the test is related to some aspect of the personality and allows, after a careful measurement in millimetres of its deviations, and comparisons with the tables of coefficients statistically obtained, the establishment of a diagnosis that covers a wide spectrum of personal traits, both normal and pathologic, the results coinciding with those of the direct diagnosis or with those of other known tests.
The Myokinetic Psychodiagnostic was a patternized in 1949 with the attainment of linear measurements in millimetres and the angular openings with its values in grades, and in 1963, Dr. Mira, following his wife and collaborator, Alice Galland's advice (who since 1946 was in charge of the section of the Myokinetic Psychodiagnostic at the Institute for Professional Orientation in Rio de Janeiro, which he directed), introduced certain modifications to the measurements of the test, which are those being used up to now days.
Practical importance of the Myokinetic Psychodiagnostic.-
For a half century now, the Myokinetic Psychodiagnostic
has statistically demonstrated, mostly in Brazil where it has been most
widely used, its utility in detecting personality traits both normal
and pathological.It has even shown its utility in neurology, been
able to detect intoxications, head injuries, myopathies, Parkinson's,
arteriosclerosis, encephalitis, etc. It is used in the fields of
professional selection as well as industrial psychology, clinical
psychology, psychiatry and education.
The myokinetic psychodiagnostic in the XXl century.-
By far the most complete and detailed information
existing on this test, as it was the author's intention in devising, is to
be found in the book by Alice Galland, Mira y Lopez' s second wife and
collaborator during the eighteen years in which the author led the Public
Service Vocational Institute in Rio de Janeiro. The book was first
published in Portuguese and was translated into Spanish by mid-2002. At
that time it was revised and enlarged including results of studies and
statistical analyses undertaken internationally posthumous to his death
Books marked with an asterisk can be found at the following website pf Psiquiatria.com http://www.onlinepsiquiatria.com devoted to publications on-line.
"La Psicoanalisi." (in Catalan)( The
"Manual de psicologia juridica"( Manual of
"Manual de Psiquiatria" (Manual of
"Problemas psicológicos actuales" (Present
"Psicologia evolutiva del niño y del adolescente"
(*)(Evolutive psychology from child and adolescent)
"Manual de psicoterapia" ( Manual of
"Los fundamentos del psicoanalisis" (The
foundations of Psychoanalysis)
"Instantáneas psicológicas" (Psychological
"Higiene mental del mundo de posguerra" (Mental
hygiene of the pos-word world)
"Manual de Orientacion Profesional" (Manual
of Professional Guidance)
"El niño que no aprende" (*) (The child that
"Cuatro gigantes del alma" (*) (Four giants of the
"Psiquiatría básica" (Basic
"Como estudiar y como aprender" (*) (How to
study and to learn)
"Psicologia militar" (Military
"Le Psychodiagnostic Miocinetique" Centre de
Psychologie Appliquee, Paris, 1951,
"Psicología experimental" (Experimental
"Guia de la salud mental". (Guide of Mental
"Compendio de Psiquiatria" (Digest of
"Factores psicológicos de la productividad"
(Psychological factor of productivity)
"Hacia una vejez joven" (Towards a young old
"As vocacões e como descobri-las". ( Vocations and
how to descover them)
"Doctrinas psicoanaliticas. (exposicion y valoracion
critica)." (Psicoanalytic doctrines -explanation and critic
"Psicologia de la vida moderna". (Psychology of
“Post mortem” publications.-
"Futebol e Psicologia".
"El pensamiento". (The act of thinking)
"Manual de psicologia general" (*) (Manual
of general psychology)
Annin, E. Boring, E. and Watson, R. (1968). "Important psychologists, 1600-1967" Journal of the History of Behavioral Sciences (1968), No. 4, p. 303-315.
"Archivos Brasileiros de Psicotecnica" year 16, april-september, 1964, number 2/3, from the Service of Publications of the Getulio Vargas Foundation, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Bernardo, Miguel, and Casas, Rafael: "Història de la Psiquiatria a Catalunya". Published by the University of Barcelona, 1983 in catalan.
Campos Avillar, Joan. "Del sueño de Irma al sueño de Mira: ¿sueños profesionales?" Ed. Plexus, Barcelona, 1990.
Campos Avillar, Joan. Caleidoscopio histórico de la SEPTG. Recuerdos, Olvidos, y Reminiscencias, o la SEPTG y "sus viejas historias". A un “psiquiatra olvidado” El Prof. Emilio Mira y López. Boletín de la SEPTG (Sociedad Española de Psicoterapia y Técnicas de Grupo) Época IV Nº Monográfico -May 1998- p. 9-48.
Carpintero, Helio. "Historia de la psicología en España". Eudema, Madrid, 1994.
Carpintero , Helio and Lafuente, Enrique. "Emilio Mira y López, un psicólogo español entre dos mundos". Video and didactic guide, UNED, Madrid , 1994.
García Yagüe, Juan. Emilio Mira y sus aportaciones a la orientación escolar y profesional durante la etapa española. Revista Complutense de Educación. Vol. 8, Nº 1, Madrid, 1997. p. 179-198.
Kirchner, M. La Psicología Aplicada en Barcelona (1916-1936). Tesis Doctoral . Universidad de Barcelona, 1975.
Kirchner, M. La obra de Emilio Mira en el Instituto de Orientación Profesional de Barcelona (1919-1939). Revista de Historia de Psicología, 2, 3, 225-246, 1981 Universidad de Barcelona. Madrid, 1998.
Iruela, Luis Miguel. "Dr. Emilio Mira y Lopez, la vida
y obra. Psiquiatria, Psicologia y armonia social." (422
Lafuente, Enrique, and Mira, Montserrat: "Psicologia y Medicina (últimas conferencias de Emilio Mira y Lopez)" joint edition from the UNED (National University for long distance education) and the University of Barcelona. Madrid, 1998.
Martínez Navarro, A. La aportación de Mira y López a la modernización de la Pedagogía española. Revista Complutense de Educación, Vol. 8, Nº 1, Madrid 1957, p. 253-269.
Mira, Alice Madelaine Galland de. "PMK- Psicodiagnostico Miocinetico" (2 volumes) Ed. Vetor, Editorial Psico-pedagogica Ltda. São Paulo, 1987, (in portuguese). Spanish edition by the same publisher, Rio de Janeiro, will soon appear. The first volume contains the 300 pieces of work published about the test internationally.
Munné, Frederic: "La psicologia juridica de n'Emili Mira i Lopez" (in Catalan) Opening to the Academic Year 1996-97, at the School of Psychology of the University of Barcelona., 1996.
Review of the Department of Psychiatry of the
University of Barcelona, Number 1, year 1973. Dedicated entirely to
reproducing the previous year homage dedicated to Dr. Emilio Mira y
Saiz, Milagros y Dolores, (coordinators) "Personajes para una historia de la psicología en España". Publications of the Autonomous University of Barcelona, Editions Pirámide, Madrid, 1996.
Siguan, Miguel. "La Psicologia a Catalunya". Editions 62, Barcelona, 1981, (in catalan).
Vilanou, Conrad y Moreu, Angel. Aproximació bibliogràfica a l’obra psicopedagògica del Dr. Mira y López (fins a 1939). In “Emili Mira i els orígens de la Psicopedagogía a Catalunya”.
Vilanou, Conrad (coordinator). "Emili Mira i els origens de la psicopedagogia a Catalunya" University of Barcelona, School of Pedagogy, 1998, ( in Catalan).
Others references published in Spain:
Butlletí del Col·legi Oficial de Doctors i Llicenciats en Filosofia i Lletres i en Ciències de Catalunya. Hivern 1996, nº 95. Centenari d’Emili Mira (in catalan), p. 44-51.
Capdevila, A. y Sáiz, M. (1998). El inicio del estudio del factor humano en la conducción de transportes en Catalunya. Revista de Psicología del trabajo y de las Organizaciones, 14, 2, p. 233-250.
Doménech, E. y Corbella, J. (1995). L’aportació d’Emili Mira al progrés de la Psiquiatria Infantil a Catalunya. Gimbernat, XXIII, p. 53-63 (in catalan).
García, E., Arbulu, E. y Carpintero, H. (1992). Las acusaciones contra Emilio Mira y López. Un episodio lamentable en la Historia de la Psicología. Revista de Historia de la Psicología, 13, 2-3, p. 459-470.
García, E., Herrero, F. y Carpintero, H. (1993). La tesis doctoral de Emilio Mira y López: “Las correlaciones somáticas del trabajo mental” (1922). Revista de Historia de la Psicología, 14, 3-4, p. 139-151.
Hoffman, Mª H., Tortosa, F. y Carbonell, E. (1994). Emilio Mira y López y el desarrollo de la Psicología del Tránsito. Los casos de España y Brasil. Revista Latinoamericana de Psicología, 26, 3, p. 495-516.
Instituto de Psicología Aplicada y Psicotecnia (1964). El Instituto de Psicología aplicada y Psicotécnia de Barcelona. Notas sobre su evolución histórica. Barcelona. Diputación Provincial de Barcelona.
Lázaro, J. La interpretación de Freud en la obra del Doctor Mira y López (1921-1936). Tesis de Licenciatura. Universidad Complutense de Madrid, 1985.
Lázaro, J. El psicoanálisis de Freud en la obra de Emilio Mira y López (1921-1936). Revista de la Asociación Española de Neuropsiquiatría. 1986; 6 (19): 636-49.
Miralles, J. L. (1979). Las obras psicológicas de Emilio Mira y López. Tesis doctoral. Valencia. Facultad de Filosofía y Ciencias de la Educación. Universidad de Valencia.
Miralles, J. L. (1980). Antecedentes de la obra de E. Mira y López en la Fisiología Catalana del siglo XIX. Revista de Historia de la Psicología, 1, 1, p. 89-120.
Miralles, J. L. (1985). Aproximación bibliométrica a la obra psicológica de Emilio Mira y López: Bases para su interpretación. Revista de Historia de la Psicología, 6, 1, p. 79-96.
Munné, F. (1997). Emilio Mira y López, primer psicólogo jurídico de España. Revista de Psicología General y Aplicada, 50, 2, p. 245-249.
Pérez-Delgado, E. y Mestre, V. (1995). Aportación de Emilio Mira y López al desarrollo de la psicología moral. Estudio de sus cuestionarios de evaluación. Revista de Historia de la Psicología, 16, 3-4, p. 53-61.
Pigem Serra, J.M. Emilio Mira y López y su entorno. Archivos de Neurobiología 1982; 45(2): 135-56.
Sáiz, M., Sáiz, D. y otros (1997). Los inicios de la medición psicológica en el marco escolar catalán. Revista de Psicología General y Aplicada, 50, 3, p. 371-387.
Sáiz, M. y Sáiz, D. (1990). La Revista de Psicología y Psicopedagogía como fuente documental primaria para la comprensión de los inicios de la Psicología aplicada en España. En II Congreso del Colegio Oficial de Psicólogos, Área 1: Psicología y Profesión, (p. 90-94). Madrid: C.O.P.
Sáiz, M. y Sáiz, D. (1992). Emilio Mira i López, pionero de la psicología aplicada en España e Iberoamérica. Revista de Historia de la Psicología, 13, 4, p. 93-100.
Sáiz, M. y Sáiz, D. (1993). El establecimiento de la Psicología Científica en España. Barcelona: Avesta.
Sáiz, M. y Sáiz, D. (1994). Les revues de l’Institut d’Orientació Professional de Barcelona (1920-1937). In Actas del XIII Congreso de la Cheiron-Europe, (p. 293-300). París: Universidad René Descartes.
Sáiz, M. y Sáiz, D. (1998). La psicología aplicada en España. Revista de Historia de la Psicología, 19, 1, p. 83-119.
Sáiz, M., Sáiz, D y otros (1991). Emilio Mira y López: Nuevos datos bibliográficos. Revista de Historia de la Psicología, 12, 3-4, p. 211-220.
Sáiz, M. y Sáiz, D. (1992). Emilio Mira y la Psicología aplicada: su aplicación al marco escolar. Revista de Historia de la Psicología, 13, 2-3, p. 105-113.
Sáiz, M., Sáiz, D. y otros. Psychiatry in war: el papel del psicológo y el psiquiatra en los conflictos bélicos según Emilio Mira (still unpublished).
Sáiz, M., Sáiz, D. y otros (1999). L’Institut d’Observació Psicològica “La Sageta”. Revista de Psicología, 21, 1-2, p. 85-98.
Sáiz, M., Sáiz, D. y otros (1994). La IIª y IVª Conferencias Internacionales de Psicotécnia celebradas en Barcelona. Algunas de sus repercusiones en el ámbito social e institucional. Revista de Historia de la Psicología, 15, 3-4, p. 227-237.
Sáiz, M., Sáiz, D. y otros (1995). Aproximación a los inicios de la medición psicológica en Cataluña. Revista de Historia de la Psicología, 16, 3-4, p. 41-52.
Solé i Sagarra, Josep. Impresiones y recuerdos personales de neuropsiquiatras importantes que he conocido. En III Jornadas Nacionales de Historia de la Psiquiatría de la AEN. A Coruña, May 1999, p. 153-177.
Siguan, M. (1991). Un siglo de Psiquiatría en Cataluña (1835-1936). Anuario de Psicología, 51, 4, p. 183-202.
Tortosa, F., Calatayud, C., López, Mª J. y Pastor, J.C. (1989). E. Mira y López en la Psicología Internacional. Revista de Historia de la Psicología, 10, 1-4, p. 189-200.
We have chosen some of the libraries whose Catalogues are available on internet:
Library of Congress of the United States of America
Catalan Universities Collective Catalogue - CCUC
Library of the University of Barcelona
Historical Archives of the University of
Network of University Libraries (REBIUN, Spain)
Libraries of the Mexican Autonomous National
Faculty of Medicine, National University of Cuyo (UNCU),
A www.google.com search with the exact naming “Mira y
Lopez” written like this, between inverted commas and with the accent
recorded 900.000 webs and a similar request limiting the pages to those in
the Spanish language gave 582.000.