Joseph Cressman “Snake” Thompson, M. D., (1874-1943) was a career medical officer in the United States Navy and attained the rank of commander before retirement in 1929. His nickname, ‘Snake’ derived from his expertise in the field of herpetology. He was also a cat breeder who helped develop the Burmese breed of cat. “In 1930 Dr. Joseph C. Thompson took a brown cat named Wong Mau from Burma to America. She herself was a hybrid from Siamese and a dark-coated breed named Burmese. Mated to a Siamese, she produced hybrids and Siamese. When the Burmese/Siamese hybrids were mated together, the darker coated Burmese were produced. These bred true, and in 1936 the Burmese was officially recognized in the United States of America as a new show breed.” (per The World Encyclopedia of Cats)
In the early 1920s Dr. Thompson became interested in Freudian psychoanalysis and he underwent analysis with Dr. Henry Grovens in 1923. In 1924 Dr. Thompson became vice-president of the Washington Psychoanalytic Association, but by 1936, after criticizing the American psychoanalytic establishment for straying too far from Freud, he was no longer listed as a member of the association. It was Thompson’s contention that lay analysts should be given as much importance in the psychoanalytic field as physicians.
According to Silas L. Warner, M.D., when Dr. Thompson was stationed in Guam he befriended young L. Ron Hubbard, whose father was also stationed there. They first met in 1923 on board a navy transport going from Guam to Washington, D. C. Hubbard later reported in a lecture how true he found one of Commander Thompson’s oft-repeated aphorisms, “If it’s not true for you, it’s not true.” It aligned with his own personal philosophy, according to Hubbard.
In the early 1930s Dr. Thompson moved to San Francisco, where he was one of very few psychoanalysts. Previous to the move he had published papers on psychoanalysis, including; Psychoanalytic Literature,Desertion,Observations of a Psychoanalyst,Tropical Neurasthenia,The Psychoanalyst and his Work, and Deprivation Psychoneurosis.
Joseph Cressman Thompson died of a heart attack in San Francisco on March 7, 1943, at the age of 68. His obituary in the San Francisco Chronicle mentioned his widow, Mrs. Hilda Thompson, and a very special Siamese cat, known as Pak Kwai Mau, or ‘White Devil Cat.’ A serious cat breeder, Thompson had at one time 45 cats. He left $10,000 in the bank in Pak Kwai Mau’s name.
In addition to contributing to the fields of cat fancy and psychoanalysis, Dr. Thompson wrote papers on reptiles and fish.
- The Psychoanalytic Roots of Scientology, by Silas L. Warner, M. D., a paper presented at the American Academy of Psychoanalysis, New York City, December 12, 1993
- Joseph “G.” Thompson was born July 6, 1874, at Quarantine Station, Long Island, New York per US Naval records.
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