Psychiatric Annals

Profiles of Great American Psychiatrists: HENRIETTE R. KLEIN, M.D. An Appreciation

Marvin Stern, MD

Abstract

In a profession, achievement and recognition come easier to those who are in some full-time status. How can we explain Henriette Klein, who has accomplished so much in so many areas in a socalled part-time status? Her professional accomplishments include leadership in the politics of psychiatry as well as outstanding contributions as a teacher and trainer, as an outstanding clinical consultant, and as a person who has made significant research contributions. In addition to these accomplishments, she has succeeded admirably as a wife and mother, and has found time to pursue other interests, including the theatre and bridge - which, by the way, she does quite competently.

A facile explanation might be that she simply has a lot of energy and does not require much sleep, but these are only two minor attributes to explain her extraordinary success in so many areas. She has a great many friends and admirers, of whom I am one, and they would see those characteristics which make her such a valuable leader and teacher. First is intelligence. A quick and direct appraisal of situations is one of her great strengths. While her nononsense approach might be startling in the beginning, it is soon seen as a positive attribute which helps her to get things done quickly without waste of time on non-essentials. She has always had a very great interest in people and events, and manages to stay knowledgeable about both professional and personal struggles and triumphs of a large number of people. She has the motivation and energy to see people readily and uses the telephone as a great ally. Here, also, it is used with dispatch and efficiency, and with little verbiage. Yet I cannot imagine people being offended by her direct style. Her loyalty to the high standards of the field and to a large number of friends is also impressive. She always manages to find some time to lend a helping hand.

None of my comments are based on short-term evaluation since Henriette has been an important figure in her chosen field for just past 50 years. Let me review briefly her early history.

She grew up on the outskirts of Chicago in a family which was rather typical of the culture. Her parents had no formal education, but had a great respect for learning, so that all were encouraged to regard education as a serious matter and to appreciate music. As a result, the four children were all university-educated. Henriette is a graduate of the University of Chicago. Her medical and psychiatric training came after her migration to the East coast where she spent time in Philadelphia, Washington, and Baltimore, and finally settled in New York City where she spent the most significant part of her professional life. She was married to Bill Horwitz, who himself made a mark as a beloved teacher and friend at Columbia University where he was Professor of Clinical Psychiatry at the time of his death. They were devoted to their two children: a son who became a lawyer with high ideals, and a daughter who is a hematologist in New York City.

Henriette also helped in the planning of two successful enterprises in education. In the 1940s, she joined Howard Potter to reorganize the psychiatric division of the Long Island College of Medicine. This later was incorporated into the State University Of New York as the Downstate Medical Center. She also was a leader in organizing the Downstate Psychoanalytic Center, which rather recently has become part of New York University's Department of Psychiatry.

With Potter, she organized one of the first inpatient services…

Henriette R. Klein, M.D.

Henriette R. Klein, M.D.

In a profession, achievement and recognition come easier to those who are in some full-time status. How can we explain Henriette Klein, who has accomplished so much in so many areas in a socalled part-time status? Her professional accomplishments include leadership in the politics of psychiatry as well as outstanding contributions as a teacher and trainer, as an outstanding clinical consultant, and as a person who has made significant research contributions. In addition to these accomplishments, she has succeeded admirably as a wife and mother, and has found time to pursue other interests, including the theatre and bridge - which, by the way, she does quite competently.

A facile explanation might be that she simply has a lot of energy and does not require much sleep, but these are only two minor attributes to explain her extraordinary success in so many areas. She has a great many friends and admirers, of whom I am one, and they would see those characteristics which make her such a valuable leader and teacher. First is intelligence. A quick and direct appraisal of situations is one of her great strengths. While her nononsense approach might be startling in the beginning, it is soon seen as a positive attribute which helps her to get things done quickly without waste of time on non-essentials. She has always had a very great interest in people and events, and manages to stay knowledgeable about both professional and personal struggles and triumphs of a large number of people. She has the motivation and energy to see people readily and uses the telephone as a great ally. Here, also, it is used with dispatch and efficiency, and with little verbiage. Yet I cannot imagine people being offended by her direct style. Her loyalty to the high standards of the field and to a large number of friends is also impressive. She always manages to find some time to lend a helping hand.

None of my comments are based on short-term evaluation since Henriette has been an important figure in her chosen field for just past 50 years. Let me review briefly her early history.

She grew up on the outskirts of Chicago in a family which was rather typical of the culture. Her parents had no formal education, but had a great respect for learning, so that all were encouraged to regard education as a serious matter and to appreciate music. As a result, the four children were all university-educated. Henriette is a graduate of the University of Chicago. Her medical and psychiatric training came after her migration to the East coast where she spent time in Philadelphia, Washington, and Baltimore, and finally settled in New York City where she spent the most significant part of her professional life. She was married to Bill Horwitz, who himself made a mark as a beloved teacher and friend at Columbia University where he was Professor of Clinical Psychiatry at the time of his death. They were devoted to their two children: a son who became a lawyer with high ideals, and a daughter who is a hematologist in New York City.

Henriette also helped in the planning of two successful enterprises in education. In the 1940s, she joined Howard Potter to reorganize the psychiatric division of the Long Island College of Medicine. This later was incorporated into the State University Of New York as the Downstate Medical Center. She also was a leader in organizing the Downstate Psychoanalytic Center, which rather recently has become part of New York University's Department of Psychiatry.

With Potter, she organized one of the first inpatient services for problem children at the New York State Psychiatric Institute, and out of their work an important publication entitled "An Evaluation of the Treatment of Problem Children as Determined by a Follow-up Study" was published.

Her curiosity regarding clinical issues in psychiatry led her into a variety of interesting clinical areas. These vary from a study of personality in patients in a gastrointestinal clinic to a very important study entitled "Anxiety in Pregnancy and Childbirth." With her husband, Bill, she explored paranoid mechanisms and they were among the first to broaden the dynamic explanations for paranoia.

As a trainer in a psychoanalytic group, she was very involved in outcome studies for patients and was much concerned about the costs of psychoanalytic therapy. Her observations on trainees in analysis have been long-recognized.

It is interesting that while she has been a model for many younger female colleagues who manage their profession and family life, she does not see herself as a feminist, but rather as an exemplar of the appropriate use of talent. If one were simply to chronicle her "firsts," they clearly represent the high esteem and affection in which she is held. She was the first woman president of a district branch of the American Psychiatric Association; the first woman President of the Association of Psychoanalytic Medicine; and the first woman member and President of the New York Psychiatric Society. She is also the first woman Trustee of the American Psychiatric Association from New York. She was honored by the Association of Psychoanalytic Medicine for her unique contributions - and, it just so happens, she was the first woman honored. Through the latter years in her associations with Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons and Lenox Hill Hospital, she held the title of Clinical Professor of Psychiatry. Since her retirement from active involvement with the University, she has been a special lecturer.

I shall make no effort to detail her great involvement at the local and national level in a variety of educational and professional issues. However, her interest in ethics and standards has been an overriding one, and she has shared her wisdom with a number of ethics committees.

All of this barely scratches the surface. It is important to see her in a broad perspective. Despite all of her efforts, in reviewing her career, she feels she has not done enough, and wishes she had done more. This self-critical view is not shared by her friends and colleagues who feel honored to have known her and are in her debt for dealing so honestly, humanely, and directly with the problems and lives of so many people.

10.3928/0048-5713-19840701-14

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