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In Memoriam: Cynthia Deery Pincus Russell, PhD

July 08, 2020

Cynthia Deery Pincus Russell, PhD, former Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Yale School of Medicine, died June 11, 2020, in Branford.

Dr. Russell relished her life filled with family, music, and professional and spiritual work. An exceptional oboist, she left Chapin School in New York City to attend Putney School in Vermont on a full scholarship in the arts and went on to play in the New Haven Symphony Orchestra and elsewhere. She graduated from Radcliffe College in 1957 and earned an MSW degree from Columbia University in 1959.

After relocating to New Haven and raising three boys, Daniel Sterling, Jeremy Pincus, and Adam Pincus, she earned her doctorate from the Union Institute in 1978. She served for many years on the clinical faculty in the Department of Psychiatry at Yale School of Medicine, where she trained hundreds of healthcare professionals as part of Bernie Siegel’s Exceptional Cancer Patients program.

She was one of the founders of Ezra Academy in Woodbridge. She founded and directed the Connecticut Institute for Psychosynthesis housed in her family’s ancestral 1790 home, the Sterling Homestead in Stratford. Her institute focused on adult spiritual development, where she taught and supervised counselors, amassing techniques for rapid recovery and growth from a variety of cultures. She unfailingly published a quarterly newsletter, Psychosynthesis Lifeline, for decades. Beyond counseling and teaching, her institute housed a number of activities including a breast cancer support group, a chamber music ensemble, writing classes, and service projects for the community focusing on cancer and AIDS patients and the elderly.

Dr. Russell published extensively – four books, dozens of articles, research on adult development and depression, poetry, non-fiction and fiction. Her book Coming Home was based on her experiences as the home hospice caregiver for her sister, Diantha. Her Patient as Teacher program, representing 12 years of her research, has been taught at Yale School of Medicine.

She served on the boards of the Sterling House Community Center and the Yale University Divinity School, both housed in buildings donated by her family. She remained giving and resolutely independent until her last day, always valuing the spiritual above the material in all things.

She is buried in Eretz HaChaim cemetery outside Jerusalem. She will be missed by her family as well as her many friends, colleagues, and students.

Submitted by Christopher Gardner on July 08, 2020