Little “Moore” on Dr. Moore — Part II

by Kristen N. Zak

As discussed in the 1st part about Dr. Moore titled “Dr. Moore’s Impact Part I: ‘Moore’ than a Little Impact”, Dr. Bruce V. Moore, who lived in the Highlands residence on 517 Hetzel Street, left a significant impact on the Penn State and State College communities. Furthermore, Dr. Moore has left a profound lasting influence on the discipline and practice of psychology.

Part I discussed Dr. Moore’s work specifically at Penn State. He joined Penn State’s psychology faculty in 1921. At that time, Psychology fell within the School of Education. Largely through Dr. Moore’s efforts, the Psychology Department at Penn State would become its own distinct department in 1945, and Dr. Moore assumed the post of Department Chair. He retired from Penn State in 1952, and the current Penn State psychology building, built in 1972, is dedicated and named after him. While he taught at Penn State and chaired the Psychology Department, Dr. Moore, among a number of projects, conducted studies on graduate engineers, and evidence suggests that he worked closely with Penn State colleague Dr. Robert Bernreuter assembling personality inventories for incoming Penn State freshmen. These inventories analyzed students’ characteristics and identified the best-suited career path for students based on respective personality type and traits. Dr. Bernreuter directed the Psychological Clinic at Penn State, which Dr. Moore also directed for a short period of time. Dr. Moore’s early research and clinical work are the topics of this article.

Figure 1 Floor Plan Moore Building 3rd Floor, 1971. Penn State Physical Plant.

Will Grant Chambers, the Dean of Penn State’s School of Education, first conceived of the plan for an on-campus psychological clinic. And, integral to this, a psychology faculty member was to head up the clinic. Dr. Moore took leadership in executing Chambers’ plan. Dr. Moore was responsible for hiring the new clinic’s director and hired Dr. Bernreuter for the position. The Psychological Clinic was originally located in the Old Beta Fraternity house; soon after that the Clinic changed campus locations multiple times until it found a longer-term home in a separate psychology building. That psychology building, constructed in 1972, is the previously mentioned Moore Building.

At the beginning, the Clinic served only State College Public School and Penn State students. In 1945, the Clinic began aiding veterans and members of the broader State College community. This widening of the client base was the idea of Clinic director Bernreuter as he recognized that a close and accessible mental clinic was not available for State College residents. Another beneficial feature of the Clinic’s operations was that it aided in the development of the graduate Clinical Psychology program at Penn State; graduate students in the Psychology Department worked with patients on campus as part of their graduate training.

Figure 2 Bruce V. Moore, “Motor Print” 1915.

Dr. Moore’s clinical work began during his service in World War I. He was an army psychologist from 1918-1919 first at Walter Reed Hospital in Washington, D.C. before moving to Army Hospital No. 20 in Prescott, Arizona. His main professional focus at the time was studying and analyzing veterans and soldiers returning home from overseas. It was during Dr. Bernreuter’s World War II service that Dr. Moore temporarily directed the Psychological Clinic at Penn State.

Dr. Moore drew from—and expanded upon—his study and experiences during World War I as he chronicled and analyzed the behaviors of returning World War II ex-GIs. “The News for Evening Dailies,” a local State College newspaper, published a series of articles between 1944 and 1945 containing pieces of advice from Dr. Moore on the plight of soldiers returning from fighting in World War II. One article published on February 15, 1944 contained Dr. Moore’s recommendation for soldiers’ families to stay together to provide support upon the soldier’s return home. Dr. Moore counseled for “parents not to preempt their soldier boy’s prerogative by planning beforehand” in a May 19, 1944 “News for Evening Dailies” article. Moore also proposed for clinics, with the Psychological Clinic at Penn State most likely one of those centers, to open for widows of the war who “may seek help in financial, vocational, and personal matters.” Another issue addressed by Dr. Moore included wounded veterans, who would be returning to their children maimed and injured. He advised spouses of these veterans to candidly talk with children about their wounded family member, noting in a March 27, 1945 article that “an honest straightforward explanation is the best way to prepare children.”

In a final “News for Evening Dailies” article dated November 16, 1945, several months after the end of World War II, Dr. Moore discussed his observations on World War II veterans that came to Penn State’s Psychological Clinic. He wrote about veterans’ emotions upon homecoming, and he gave more recommendations to families regarding their returning soldiers. Moore observed that “many boys…feel a little blue and lost once they got their discharge papers and arrive home. Unaccustomed to civilian ways, they worry their families by not behaving as they did before they went away…Ex-servicemen… have been living in a world where they were disciplined to forget the responsibilities of life.” Moore’s research led to the important conclusion, he continued, that “much of the veteran’s irritability and lack of enthusiasm…is the result of nervous fatigue”, and his advice to families of veterans is “not to burden them with future plans until they’ve had a ‘fair chance to find themselves.’” The “nervous fatigue” that Dr. Moore mentions in his summarized research results is most likely a reference to Combat Stress Reaction (CSR), what we now commonly refer to as “Post Traumatic Stress Disorder” (PTSD).

PTSD research has come a long way since Dr. Moore’s lifetime. When he first started as an Army Psychologist in World War I, Dr. Moore observed soldiers experiencing shellshock, a term used in 1919 by then-President Woodrow Wilson. During World War II, the term shellshock was replaced with “Combat Stress Reaction” (CSR) or battle fatigue. After clinicians observed World War II veterans, Holocaust survivors, victims of sexual assault or rape, and Vietnam War veterans, PTSD became an formally-recognized mental disorder, when the American Psychological Association (APA) published the third Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders (DSM-III) in 1980. In the DSM-III, the APA recognized PTSD as an anxiety disorder and found strong connections between the disorder and military service and experiences. As research progressed and multiple volumes of DSMs were published, PTSD’s definition was updated. The most recent update was in 2013 in DSM-5, when the APA designated PTSD as a “Trauma- and Stressor-Related Disorder”—a separate and distinct category in the list of mental disorders, rather than simply an anxiety disorder.

Dr. Moore saw strong parallels between what he studied and observed regarding returning veterans from the two World Wars. The contents of the 1944-1945 “News for Evening Dailies” articles pointed to Dr. Moore’s recognition of, and concern for, the early stages of CSR, what he labeled then as “nervous fatigue”. Dr. Moore’s clinical research resulted in connections between the veterans he observed at Penn State’s Psychological Clinic and future PTSD research.

Now as I walk past the Moore Building on Penn State’s campus, I do not just see the words “Moore Building” as meaningless. I see a hard-working, dedicated man whose passion in psychology transformed his field of study. His work on personality inventories and aptitude tests in colleges and workplaces lasted for decades after their implementation, and his contributions to CSR research led to further developments and the official diagnosis of PTSD. Dr. Moore left his mark in the field of psychology and at Penn State, where he is honored by the building bearing his name.

Kristen N. Zak graduated from Penn State University with degrees in history and music performance. She finds great interest in the United States Civil War, legal history, and local history. Over the summer, Kristen worked as a remote intern for a business professor at Montclair State University. She now works full-time as a remote contact tracer for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, hoping to help others during the COVID-19 pandemic. She aspires to attend graduate school for history and education and become a university history professor. If you wish to contact her, she can be reached via the following email address: