Thomas Joseph Hannie Jr., PhD, passed away unexpectedly on February 13, 2021. He had been dealing with a heart condition over the last year. Dr. Hannie was 83.
Dr. Hannie had a profound influence on the psychology profession in Louisiana and over the last half century was a cornerstone of change for many pivotal milestones in the profession.
He was a forensic psychologist and a true applied scientist who was also a fascinating person. He possessed a depth of experience that, coupled with his exceptional analytical thinking, gave him a keen ability to critique any point of law, psychology, or philosophy.
Tom’s abilities were complemented by his sense of humor and a contagious enjoyment of life and living. He was just as likely to invite you over for an LSU football party as to
correct your flawed logic on some matter, and his colleagues counted themselves lucky either way.
“Very few psychologists have ever had anything close to the impact he had on psychology in our state, and over a very long time period,” said colleague Dr. John Fanning.
Dr. Kim VanGeffen said, “Tom was a powerful figure in the history of psychology in Louisiana. We owe a lot to him.
As an LSU psychology undergraduate in the 1960s, Tom helped in the successful effort to pass the original Louisiana licensing law. In 1978, he served as president of the Louisiana Psychological Association and was proud that his year saw the start of the successful drive to remove, from the licensing law, the clause requiring psychologists to diagnose and treat only “…in consultation and collaboration with a physician.”
Gregarious and energetic, he engaged in many professional organizations and activities
throughout his lengthy career. Tom served on the Louisiana State Board of Examiners of Psychologists and was Chair in 1982. Along with serving as president of the Louisiana
Psychological Association, he also served as the president of the Orleans Psychological Society and as president of the New Orleans Society of Clinical Hypnosis.
Over the years, Tom was a clinical fellow in the Behavior Therapy & Research Society, and a member of many organizations, including the Association for the Advancement of Behavior Therapy, the New Orleans Behavior Therapy Society, the Southeastern Association for Behavior Therapy, and the American Institute of Stress.
He was also a member of the American Psychology-Law Society, the International
Association for the Study of Pain, and the Society for a Science of Clinical Psychology.
He was a member of the American Psychological Association, the Southeastern Psychological Association, and the Southwestern Psychological Association. He was also a member of Psi Chi Honorary Society in Psychology.
Before retiring he was licensed/certified in Louisiana and Texas, and held the Diplomat
from the American Board of Vocational Experts. He was a certified School Psychologist from the Louisiana State Department of Education.
Dr. Hannie was known for his analytical accuracy and precision. “Tom’s advice was
always the best,” said Dr. Susan Andrews. “He forgot more psychology than most of us ever knew.”
Dr. Bill McCown first met Tom Hannie at the 1978 state convention, where Hans Eysenck presented, “While most of us were thunderstruck with Eysenck’s legitimate genius, Tom, always interested in professional issues, took the opportunity to grill Eysenck on why the status of British psychologists was ‘not equivalent to their
IQs,’ ” said McCown.
“Tom knew his literature well. Eysenck had been responsible for setting up the clinical psychology profession in Britain in 1950. Tom wanted to know why so many years later most very bright British psychologists were getting paid very little and whether we in Louisiana could learn anything from this.”
Dr. Tom Hannie’s career path was that of an applied psychological scientist and he developed expertise and excellence in many areas. These included evaluation and treatment of victims of psychological and physical trauma, evaluation and treatment of chronic pain patients, including vocational aspects, and evaluation and intervention of children with school, behavior and emotion problems.
He also worked in pre-employment assessments, vocational evaluations and counseling, disability determination evaluations, labor market surveys, and neuropsychological evaluations.\
I wanted to see some of everything before I went into private practice,” Tom told the Times in 2010. Coming out of the comprehensive doctoral training program at the University of Georgia with a degree in clinical psychology, a minor in industrial-organizational, a minor in sociology, and a sub-specialty in behavior therapy, Tom
began his career by gaining experience in a variety of settings and with a variety of clients.
He explained that he originally worked with executives, with school systems, with preschool children, with alcohol and drug cases, with inpatients, and with outpatient clinical cases. He performed a variety of assessments and also worked as an instructor, trainer, and supervisor in a wide range of settings.
His primary professional position was as a consulting psychologist in private practice, in
Metairie from 1973 to 2005 and in Baton Rouge from 1989 to 2007.
But over time Tom found that he was very well suited to, and took real pleasure in, the work of the forensic psychologist––forensic evaluation and testimony. This role became the “most enjoyable” aspect of his long and distinguished career.
“Every case is like going back to graduate school,” Tom said. “You have to be up on the
latest research. You have to prepare as if they can bring in the top expert in the nation. It’s having to be at the top of what you do,” he said. “You’re investigating and working the puzzle. The basis of the work is that you don’t rely on what you’re told–you dig it out for yourself. You have to find the inconsistencies in the data.”
During his long career, Tom consulted in over 2000 criminal cases, and several thousand civil/worker’s compensation cases. “Nothing will make you learn how to express yourself like forensics,” he said. “If you get out of line, you can get hit—hard.” He explained, “You learn how to use few words. They’ll rip you up if you don’t have things in line.”
Dr. Hannie consulted to Feliciana Forensic Facility in Jackson where he evaluated clients
for competency to stand trial and provided court testimony related to competency. He consulted to the Jefferson Parish Juvenile Detention & Probation division regarding evaluations and program development, interventions, and training of the probation staff.
Tom consulted extensively to assist in the care of disabled individuals to improve their quality of life. He consulted to numerous group homes and rehabilitation services where he combined his efforts with evidenced-based treatment, accurate evaluations, staff training, and treatment planning for clients.
Also during his career, Tom worked in business and industry, particularly in areas that required the interface between clinical and vocational. He was also an instructor at Louisiana State Extension Service at Pineville, Northwestern State University Continuing Education program, and LSU’s courses at England Air Force Base, Keesler Air Force Base, and others.
In 2007, Tom retired, and this allowed him more time to enjoy his considerable range of hobbies. He greatly enjoyed professional level gambling, he was a sports car enthusiast, and he loved sports, most especially LSU football. He owned a Mini Cooper, decorated it in purple and gold with the LSU emblems, which he drove and displayed in LSU activities.
Friend and colleague Dr. Gail Gillespie said, “Tom was quite the character. I recall his
discussing with me how he used to win at casino poker games, and he once let me take a spin in his sporty sports car! We shall miss him and his larger-than-life personality.”
In 2010, Tom explained, “Since retiring, I have returned to my childhood. In my previous life I made my living playing poker,” referring to how he supplemented his income as an engineering student, math wiz, and U.S. Army vet, who went to school and worked on the oil rigs.
“If it weren’t for the travel required, I’d play more often,” he said. Tom was a personal friend with many of the people portrayed in the popular movie 21, the story about how MIT mathematicians beat the Las Vegas systems. Tom said, “…the most effective system for blackjack was developed by a clinical psychologist!”
“The people I have met through blackjack are some of the brightest, most creative people I know. Most are educated, PhDs in many scientific areas, JDs, MDs. Imagine guys who can walk in a casino, figure out how to make a profit, and do it.”
Also during retirement, Tom had more time for volunteer civic activities. He was a member of Baton Rouge Freethinkers and strongly involved with Americans United for Separation of Church and State, a group committed to the protection of First Amendment freedoms.
In 2010, Dr. Hannie moderated a forum about the social, legal, and philosophical issues of same sex marriage, titled: “Same Sex Marriage: Is It a Church-State Issue?” The forum was sponsored by the Louisiana Chapter of Americans United for Separation of Church and State.
In 2011 he was instrumental in opposing a bill that would have created a Ten Commandments monument on the Capitol grounds. Legislators dropped HB 277 after receiving Hannie’s detailed letter with legal references. Dr. Hannie pointed out that the Commandments are a religious text and the posting would be “constitutionally suspect and an affront to religious liberty and diversity in Louisiana.”
In 2013, his Letter to the Editor was published in the Baton Rouge Advocate, where he pointed to differences between science and religion. “Science is science, religion is religion,” he wrote.
“Again, many have missed the point. We must teach science to our children. Science includes building theories to explain the data. In science class, different theories should be taught based on the evidence for each.” And, “If a school is private and thus may teach religion, teaching creationism and intelligent design is acceptable. Hopefully science and religion are not confused there. We are concerned about our public schools, which are prohibited from teaching religion by our Constitution.”
“Evolution is within science. Creationism and intelligent design are within religion.
“Maybe more important than teaching our children biology is teaching them the difference between science and religion, as it is obvious that too many of our citizens haven’t learned the difference.”
He expressed ongoing support for the freedom of information efforts of the Times. He often helped report on and analyze news, including secretly taping a government meeting. In 2015, he won the The Psychology Times’ Sunshine Meets Psychology Contest with Thomas Jefferson’s quote, “Where the press is free and every man able to read, all is safe.”
He had no trouble asserting his views and asking for explanations. In 2014, Dr. Hannie asked the board members to reconcile apparent problems due to sections of the law contradicted their public statement. In 2017, he asked “… if the attorneys were committing malpractice by not recusing themselves and if y’all have looked at that?”
Thomas Joseph Hannie Jr., PhD was a brilliant, truth-loving and wise colleague to those in the psychology community. For many he was a constant source of advice, understanding, and insight.
He understood what it meant to be a science-based, applied psychologist and he embraced everything he did in the profession with a sense of excellence.
A natural and skillful leader, Tom had a pivotal role in professional changes and his leadership was essential in the history of Louisiana psychology.
Tom was also a cheerful, fascinating colleague. His enjoyment of life was contagious and he willingly shared his enthusiasm with his friends and colleagues. He had a generous heart and a tolerant spirit.
His passing leaves a great void in the community.
Dr. Tom Hannie is survived by his loving wife, Rosemary Parkel Hannie, his two sons Mark and Trey Hannie, and his granddaughter, Ella Caroline Hannie.