I am a Midwestener originally but have lived and worked on both coasts. I was born and raised in Cleveland, the oldest of three and daughter of a mechanical engineer businessman and an educated homemaker. Part of my growing up strategy as a college student was to spend a junior year abroad in Hamburg in the 60’s. I majored in German and got a master’s at Columbia after graduating from Smith.
I taught for a year at a junior college in Kentucky and then went to UC Berkeley in a Ph.D. program before facing the fact I did not want to be a German scholar. I still wanted to follow my childhood interest in medicine. I left the Ph.D. program and did a year of pre-med at CAL. The revelation that basic zoology had changed from the dissection of frogs to the study of DNA and RNA was exciting and formative: science propels us forward in staggering ways. I finished catching up on modern pre-med and applied to Case Western Reserve. Although I was relieved to be on a course that ensured active and constructive work with people, I maintained a deep interest in meaning, the relationship of form to content, and the beauty of narrative and character development, all of which had suffused my studies in literature.
My developmental and preventive orientation to medicine has two main roots: growing up in the care of a talented general practitioner, a woman who graduated from CWRU in 1929, and working as a research assistant in mother infant bonding with John Kennell and Marshall Klaus the year before I started medical school at CWRU. Dr. Mildred Bowen delivered excellent care. It included referral to experts when her skills were limited in relation to our needs. She taught me the value of realism and commitment to organizing if not directly providing the best possible care. Kennell and Klaus were inspiring models, taking me to see fascinating children at the end of the research day, but my plan to become a pediatrician shifted when psychiatry proved more interesting. Officially working with the whole person – medically, socially, psychologically – felt like a privilege. I was a natural for the biopsychosocial model.
I spent 10 rewarding years in New Haven, first as a psychiatric resident and then as an assistant professor for 6 years. I worked in community mental health administratively and in long term inpatient care clinically. In both areas I was mentored by psychoanalysts who were interested in the severely mentally ill. When I moved to San Francisco in 1985, I worked at San Francisco General Hospital at a leadership level administratively and began psychoanalytic training at the then San Francisco Psychoanalytic Institute and Society.
My training at SFPI&S became the heart of my intellectual and clinical work straight away. The faculty and my fellow candidates were challenging, friendly and inspiring. After graduation my involvement expanded to include administrative as well as teaching activities. At SFPI&S my roots in the pursuit of meaning, whether in German literature or in everyday relationships, came together with my pragmatic interests in providing care and tending to the well-being of the structure through which it is delivered.