Dr. Sidney Blatt Retires After Nearly Five Decades In the Department

06/27/2011: In a career spanning more than 50 years Dr. Sidney J. Blatt, who will retire from the faculty of the Yale Department of Psychiatry this month, has distinguished himself as an analytic clinician, an empirical researcher, a personality theorist, and a beloved teacher and mentor. Dr. Blatt first came to Yale in 1960 as an assistant professor in the Psychology Department. He joined the Psychiatry Department in 1963 and has served as Professor of Psychiatry and Psychology, and Chief of the Psychology section for almost 50 years. Dr. Blatt received his PhD from the University of Chicago, and completed post-doctoral psychology training at the Michael Reese Hospital and psychoanalytic training at the Western New England Institute for Psychoanalysis.

Author or coauthor of more than 220 published articles and approximately 17 books, he has conducted extensive research on personality development, psychological assessment, psychopathology and psychotherapeutic outcomes. His wide-ranging areas of scholarship and expertise include the Rorschach Inkblot Test, mental representation, internalization and an empirically-supported theory of normal and pathological development involving two interdependent personality styles—one related to self-definition and one to relatedness. Along with colleagues and students, he has developed measures widely-used in research and clinical settings to assess styles of depression, self- and object-representations, and boundary disturbances in thought disorders. A wide-ranging intellect, he also authored a book on developmental cognitive theory and art history.

Dr. John Krystal, Yale School of Medicine Department of Psychiatry Chairman, remarked, "Sid has contributed importantly to the life of our Department for nearly 50 years. He has had an enormous impact on the Department and the field as a leader in psychology, esteemed colleague and collaborator, valued mentor and teacher, rigorous scientist, and distinguished clinician. One does not simply fill-in behind Sid, you retire his jersey and hang it from the rafters."

Dr. Blatt is the recipient of numerous awards including the Sigmund Freud Scholar at Hebrew University, the Bruno Klopfer and Marguerite Hertz Awards for Distinguished Accomplishments in Personality Assessment, Distinguished Scientific Awards of Divisions 12 and 39 of the American Psychological Association, the Hans Strupp and the Otto Weininger Awards for Distinguished Contributions to Psychoanalysis, and the Mary S. Sigourney Award for Distinguished Contributions to Psychoanalytic Theory and Research.

Dr. Blatt has served as a visiting fellow or professor at Austen Riggs Center, Hampstead Child Therapy Clinic, Tavistock Centre, University College London, The Ben Gurion University of the Negev, Menninger Foundation, Catholic University of Leuven, George Washington University, Bar Ilan University, and The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where he served simultaneously as the Sigmund Freud Professor, the Director of the Sigmund Freud Center for Psychoanalytic Study and Research, the Ayala and Sam Zacks Professor of Art History, and a Senior Fulbright Research Fellow.

Mentor to many generations of Yale Psychology graduate students, and pre- and post-doctoral psychology fellows in the Psychiatry Department, Dr. Blatt has supervised or advised more than 40 doctoral dissertations at Yale and other universities. Many of his students have gone on to distinguished research careers. In 2002, former students organized a Festschrift in his honor at the Division 39 meetings of the American Psychological Association which resulted in a 2005 volume, Relatedness, Self-definition and Mental Representation: Essays in Honor of Sidney J. Blatt.

As Robert Wallerstein writes in his review of Blatt’s 2008 book Polarities of Experience: Relatedness and Self-Definition in Personality Development, Psychopathology, and the Therapeutic Process, "Our field owes much to Sidney Blatt's . . . productive lifetime of almost unmatched threefold integration of clinical experience, theoretical conceptualization, and systematic empirical research."

Submitted by Dr. Kay Long, Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry