Irene Dempsey

the practical psychologist


About Irene


Rewriting the Psychology of Women

Notes on Communication

An Outline of Underdog Psychology


Other writings

Email us

About Irene

Irene Dempsey was born in a small town in Iowa and grew up in Boulder, Colorado during the Great Depression.  She received her Bachelor's and Master's degrees from the University of Colorado, and did her doctoral work at the University of California at Berkeley.  Her interest in psychology was ignited by a graduate class on behaviorism and learning theory that she took at the University of Colorado as an undergraduate.  She was inspired by the fundamental principle of learning - that people (like animals) can change even ingrained behaviors, provided there are appropriate returns.  For Irene, psychology was not about disease and treatment, but about skill-gaps and teaching.

From the beginning of her career, Irene was most interested in the special issues of women, whose social roles make their lives complicated, and in the importance of health as the key foundation for personal development and achievement.  In the early 1950s, Irene's doctoral research focused on the psychological challenges faced by women, who feel pressure to fulfill their (primarily supportive) social roles but who also seek personal expression and achievement.  The all-too-common experience of being overworked, underappreciated, and having no hope for improvement - the underdog experience - is the foundation of Underdog Psychology. 

Health, too, was a consistent interest of Irene's from the early 1950s, when she came across the work of nutritionist Adele Davis.  From that time, Irene paid great attention to the role of diet and exercise in supporting the energy level each person needs to avoid the underdog experience.  In the mid-1970s, Irene had her first real vacation, and recognized the importance of time off, along with diet and exercise, in keeping one's batteries charged.  For the rest of her long life, Irene ate lean, healthy meals, exercised daily, and took breaks in her favorite vacation spots - Hawaii, the Caribbean, and Tuscany.

Besides her work, her family, and health, Irene's passions included cooking and eating delicious, healthy meals and developing her constantly changing garden.  From the mid-1950s, Irene lived in Davis, California with her husband, Paul.  Her two sons, Ajax and Jed, live nearby. 

© 1970-2003 Irene Dempsey