Lauretta Bender (1897-1987)

Lauretta Bender was born in Montana, and was a slow reader with poor handwriting in grade school. These problems contributed to her later research interests in neuropsychology, childhood schizophrenia and suicide. She obtained her M.D. from Iowa State University (1926), studied psychiatry, and was an associate of David Wechsler who had developed widely used intelligence tests. Lauretta Bender inferred that many learning disorders were neurobiologically determined, related to delayed maturation of brain functions required for language. Dr. Bender was renowned for her creation of a test which measure perceptual motor skills and development. The Bender-Gestalt test is commonly used in tests of personality, originally based on her monograph, “A Visual Motor Gestalt Test and its Clinical Use”.

Lauretta Bender was the wife of Paul Schilder, an eminent Viennese psychiatrist know for his research on body image. With Dr. Schilder’s collaboration, Dr. Bender proposed that children with reading disabilities have difficulty with the temporal ordering and organization of language sequences in sentences and paragraphs.

Dr. Schilder died in 1940, and in 1968 Dr. Bender married Dr. Henry B. Parks, a historian.

Harold P. Blum, M.D.