In Memoriam: Robert S. Wallerstein, MD

Robert S. Wallerstein, MD

Robert S. Wallerstein, MD

With the passing of Robert S. Wallerstein, MD, on December 21, 2014, a distinguished career as a psychiatrist, psychotherapy researcher, and psychoanalytic leader was brought to a close, leaving a legacy of a widened scope of theory and technique in the psychological sectors of psychiatry. He was an administrator who advocated for cooperation between psychiatrists, psychologists, and social workers in achieving academic excellence and sought to develop a new profession, the Doctor of Mental Health. He also developed a departmental structure that worked across professional lines, leading to new ideas on research centers, educational plans, and high quality service delivery.

Dr. Wallerstein trained at the Menninger Foundation in Topeka, Kansas, rising to become the foundation’s director of research and conducting a pioneering study called the Psychotherapy Research Project. He moved to the Bay Area in 1966 as the chief of psychiatry at Mount Zion Hospital, then joined the faculty of the UCSF Department of Psychiatry as a professor. Dr. Wallerstein served as department chair and director of the Langley Porter Psychiatric Institute from 1975-1985, as well as a training and supervising analyst at the San Francisco Psychoanalytic Institute, and president of both the American and International Psychoanalytic Associations.

In addition, he was a prodigious and influential author who penned 20 books and more than 400 scholarly articles. His books included Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis: Theory, Practice, Research (1975), Becoming a Psychoanalyst (1981), Forty-Two Lives in Treatment (1986), The Talking Cures: The Psychoanalyses and the Psychotherapies (1995), Lay Analysis: Life Inside the Controversy (1998), Psychoanalysis: Clinical and Theoretical (1999), and Psychoanalysis: Education, Research, Science, and Profession (2003). In recognition of his outstanding contributions to the field of psychoanalysis, he received the prestigious Sigourney Award in 1991.

Dr. Wallerstein was a leader by consensus. With a remarkable ability of synthesis, he strived to bring together diverse schools of theory and treatment technique. He will be remembered as a dynamic and tireless leader who contributed extensively to every organization that he led.

He will be remembered and honored by the department at the 10th Annual Robert Wallerstein Lecture in Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy on April 8, 2015 on the UCSF Parnassus Heights campus.

For those wishing to give in his name, donations can be sent to:

The Wallerstein Memorial Library
UCLFAA Inc. (University College London)
c/o Chapel and York
1000 N. West Street, Suite 1200
Wilmington, DE 19801


New Israel Fund
PO Box 96712
Washington, DC, 20077-7438