Christiana Drummond Morgan (born Christiana Drummond Councilman) (1897–1967) was a lay psychoanalyst at Harvard University best known for her work co-authoring the Thematic Apperception Test, one of the most widely used projective psychological test.
She administered one of the earliest versions of the test to one of the first diagnosed anorexic patients in Boston. She is mostly remembered as the lover of American psychologist Henry Murray.
The nude portrait statue of Christiana commissioned by Murray from Gaston Lachaise is now owned by the Governor’s Academy, Byfield, Massachusetts. Christiana committed suicide at 69 years of age. There is some controversy over her death related to Henry Murray’s conflicting accounts, but it is mostly considered a suicide.
Christiana was born in Boston, Massachusetts on October 6, 1897. She attended Miss Winsor’s school for girls in Boston from 1908 to 1914 and later a boarding school in Farmington, Massachusetts. She came of age, a debutante in Boston society and met William Morgan, a young man enlisted to fight in WWI.
William went abroad to war and Christiana stayed behind and received a certificate as a nurses aid after completing a training program at the YWCA in New York City. She served as a nurse during the 1918 Influenza.
Christiana was an artist, writer, and lay psychoanalyst fascinated by the depth psychology. Part of the Introvert/Extrovert Club in New York City in the 1920s, she traveled to Zurich to consult Carl Jung.
When Carl Jung met Christiana he considered her the manifestation of the perfect feminine, une femme inspiratrice whose role was to act as a muse to great men. Jung conducted a seminar, called the “Vision Seminars”, analyzing Christiana’s many drawings and dreams. She created mythic visions chronicling her struggle with the feminine and masculine forces in her world.
At Harvard University she played a vital role in inventing the Thematic Apperception Test, a way to elicit fantasy still used today. The test is considered the most used and researched projective psychological test.
In its early development, the test which consisted of a series of pictures shown to a patient who is asked to make up a story about each picture, many of Christiana’s own drawings were included.
Also, she was cited as co-author with Henry Murray in the first publication of the test. As it was further developed, Christiana’s pictures were taken out as well as her co-authorship. This is sometimes attributed to her lack of professional credentials.
After a radical sympathectomy surgery for high blood pressure and years of excessive drinking, Christiana Morgan committed suicide at the age of 69 at Denis Bay, St. John, Virgin Islands on March 14, 1967.
She left a Conrad Aiken poem to be read over her grave.
“O sweet clean earth, from whom the green blade cometh!
When we are dead, my blest beloved and I,
Embrace us well, that we may rest forever,
Sending up grass and blossoms to the sky.”
Image thanks to Craig Nelson.