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In Memoriam: Robert Stern, MD, PhD

September 02, 2020

The following message was sent to the Department of Psychiatry by John H. Krystal, MD, Chair of Psychiatry.

I have the sad task to share the news of the death of Robert Stern M.D., Ph.D. at the age of 92 on September 1, 2020. At the time of his death, Dr. Stern was associate clinical professor of Psychiatry.

Dr. Stern was a long-standing faculty member in the Department of Psychiatry. Born in Budapest, Hungary, he completed his PhD at Yale in 1956 and then completed his M.D. at Case Western Reserve University in 1966. He returned to Yale for residency training and joined our faculty in 1974.

Dr. Stern established an active private practice in New Haven and he was an expert in the assessment and treatment of borderline personality disorder. He was a valued and respected supervisor of Yale Psychiatry residents for several decades. He also was known for his intellectual curiosity. He attended Department Grand Rounds regularly and participated actively. The breadth and vivacity of his interests was illustrated by the opening lines of his review of Dr. John Gunderson’s, Borderline Personality Disorder: A Clinical Guide (American Journal of Psychiatry, 2003):

"If this book were a new opera composed by John Gunderson and conducted by him at a worldwide premiere performance at one of the famed houses in Milan, Paris, London, or New York, everyone in the audience, including this critic, would stand up impulsively and cheer. Indeed, stand up and cheer we must."

I will always remember Dr. Stern fondly. He was my attending on my first night on call as a PGY1 psychiatrist in the Emergency Room at the (then) Hospital of St. Raphael. I had encountered a patient whose expertise in borderline personality disorder far exceeded my expertise in psychiatry. I called Dr. Stern for help. He came right over and sat both the patient and I down for a chat. We both benefitted enormously. The patient went home and I went forward to my career in psychiatry.

Dr. Stern is survived by his wife of 47 years, Jane, children Naomi Taransky (Jennifer) and Adam (Sarit Shatken), and grandchildren Benjamin, Aviva, Dorey, Ramona and Louis.

Submitted by Christopher Gardner on September 02, 2020