In constructing this chronology, we consulted Exploring Affect: The Selected Writings of Silvan S. Tomkins, edited by E. Virginia Demos; “Silvan S. Tomkins: A Biographical Sketch” by Irving Alexander, in Shame and Its Sisters: A Silvan Tomkins Reader, edited by Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick and Adam Frank; the biographical information presented on the Tomkins Institute website (http://www.tomkins.org/); and archival materials (university transcripts, census data, marriage records, correspondence).
- Born June 4 in Philadelphia to Russian Jewish immigrant parents, Samuel Solomon Tomkins, a dentist, and Rose Tomkins (née Novak). Grew up in Camden, New Jersey. Sister Charlotte born two years later.
- BA, University of Pennsylvania. Takes courses primarily in English, philosophy, and psychology; concentrates on playwriting.
- MA and PhD in philosophy, University of Pennsylvania. Dissertation: “Conscience, Self Love and Benevolence in the System of Bishop Butler,” supervised by Professor Louis W. Flaccus. Takes courses with Edgar A. Singer Jr.
- Hired by a racing syndicate in New Jersey to handicap horse races, nicknamed “The Professor.” Continues to play the horses in Atlantic City and Miami Beach for several years.
- Postdoctoral fellow in philosophy at Harvard University. Works with Willard Van Orman Quine, Ralph Barton Perry, Henry Sheffer, and (possibly) Alfred North Whitehead. Brief marriage to Mary Shoemaker.
- Moves to the Harvard Psychological Clinic as a postdoctoral fellow; later becomes a research assistant. Works with Henry A. Murray and Robert W. White on studies of personality. With Daniel Horn, devises the Tomkins–Horn Picture Arrangement Test (PAT). Enters a seven-year psychoanalysis with Ruth Burr. Dedicates Contemporary Psychopathology: A Sourcebook (1943) to Burr.
- Instructor, Department of Psychology, Harvard University. Marries Elizabeth (BeeGee) Taylor.
- Lecturer, Department of Social Relations, Harvard University. Publishes The Thematic Apperception Test: The Theory and Technique of Interpretation (1947) in collaboration with Elizabeth Tomkins.
- Visiting professor, Department of Psychology, Princeton University. Appointed associate professor and director of clinical training program (1949). Works with the Educational Testing Service. Serves as consultant at Fort Dix, the Pennsylvania Psychiatric Institute, and the National Institute of Mental Health. First presentations on affect theory (1951, 1954) published in La Psychoanalyse (1956), edited by Jacques Lacan. Birth of son Mark Tomkins (1955).
- Professor, Department of Psychology, and director of clinical training program, Princeton University. Invited to spend a year (1960–61) as a research fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, Stanford University, where he completes the first two volumes of Affect Imagery Consciousness. Experiences serious injury while surfing in Hawai‘i (1961). Publishes AIC: Volume 1. The Positive Affects (1962) and AIC: Volume 2. The Negative Affects (1963). Receives Career Scientist Award from the National Institute of Mental Health (1964).
- Research professor and director of the Center for Research in Cognition and Affect, Graduate Center, City University of New York. Develops research on smoking and addiction, the psychology of knowledge, affect and faciality, and other subjects.
- Research professor, Department of Psychology at Livingston College, Rutgers University. Marriage with BeeGee ends. Retires from Rutgers as emeritus professor.
- Adjunct professor, Busch Center, University of Pennsylvania. Presentations and publications on script theory. Diagnosed with lymphoma (1990); sees the publication of AIC: Volume 3. The Negative Affects: Anger and Fear (1991). Dies June 10, 1991 (age eighty-one), at Shore Memorial Hospital in New Jersey. AIC: Volume 4. Cognition: Duplication and Transformation of Information published the following year.