Robert S. Wallerstein, M.D., 1991

Dr. Wallerstein is Emeritus Professor and Former Chair, Department of Psychiatry, University of California San Francisco School of Medicine.

Dr. Wallerstein has been a frequent and important contributor to the literature on psychoanalysis and psychotherapy. His writings cover four areas, practice, theory, education, and research. Within clinical practice they range from the psychodynamic treatment of organic brain syndrome to the psychoanalytic therapy of patients who develop a transference psychosis. In the realm of theory he has produced papers on the nature and the problems of psychotherapy and psychoanalysis, separately and in relation to each other. These papers have concerned themselves with the conceptual and technical distinctions between psychoanalysis and psychoanalytically based psychotherapy, as well as treatment within each of these modalities. His writings encompass papers on treatment planning, prognostication, and assessment of change in psychotherapy; treatment goals and prediction in psychoanalysis; and surveys of issues pertinent to psychoanalysis and psychotherapy, plus the issues posed by the growing theoretical diversity of psychoanalysis. A third group of papers consists of both empirical and wide-ranging theoretical presentations on such topics as psychoanalytic research, psychoanalytic education, including its relationship to the university, and the relationship of psychoanalysis to behavioral science, and to the community mental health movement. Collectively and separately, his work constitutes a significant contribution to the field.

I was one of the winners of the Sigourney Award in 1991, the second year of its existence, along with very distinguished company, Charles Brenner, Hans Loewald, and Leo Rangell. At the time it was at the height of my activity, professionally and organizationally, in worldwide psychoanalysis. I had just recently, in 1989, ended my four year presidency of the International Psychoanalytical Association, and was very involved in my continuing lifelong work in psychoanalytic therapy research. The award was given in Los Angeles, the only time not in New York, and my remarks on receiving the award were extemporaneous, and are now long forgotten.

I should add for the record that I think that I was the only winner of the award who had known Mary Sigourney personally. She was a clinical psychologist, who had a psychotherapy practice here in the San Francisco Bay Area. She had been analyzed by a colleague, now long deceased, and had emerged with a passionate attachment to psychoanalysis and the help that it could be to people. My wife and I visited her, in her retirement years, in her very elegant home in Carmel Valley, about three hours from San Francisco. I was at the time chairman of the Department of Psychiatry at the University of California San Francisco School of Medicine, and Mary Sigourney gave a modest grant for psychoanalytic therapy research being carried out in our department. During her terminal illness she was hospitalized at Moffitt, our university hospital, and I would visit with her periodically. She informed me during those visits of her plan to endow a “Nobel Prize” in psychoanalysis, to be administered jointly by Mr. Devine, her attorney in Seattle, and whoever the incumbent treasurer of the American Psychoanalytic Association happened to be (she did not know who that was at the time). I, of course, supported her plan.

After Mary Sigourney’s death I was one of the people consulted by Bernard Pacella, the then treasurer of the American, and urged (along I am sure with others) that rather than one prize annually, it be planned for up to five each year at $20,000 each, and with a world-wide regional rotation, which, at the time, the two trustees set at two years in North America, one in Europe, and one in Latin America.

That is how the Mary Singleton Sigourney Award was initially established. It underwent a number of organizational vicissitudes subsequently, of which I was regularly aware, and when some issues around the management of the award arose in subsequent years, I was consulted by the officers of the American, as the only person known by them to have personally discussed the award with Mary Sigourney when she was planning it, and therefore had some knowledge of her specific management intentions. – Robert S. Wallerstein