Mitchell Ginsberg, Ph.D.
Louis B. Fierman


Louis B. Fierman

Louis B. Fierman, MD (1922-2012), was an innovative psychiatrist, who saw himself primarily as a psychotherapist. The sub-title of one of his books hints at this: it is entitled “Shrink”: On Becoming a Psychotherapist. He could just as well have had the word Psychiatrist at the end of that sub-title.

Fierman was amember of the Yale Psychiatry Department for decades. After time as Senior Resident at both YPI (the Yale Psychiatric Institute) and at the West Haven V.A. Hospital (a Yale Medical School training facility), he became a member of the faculty of the Psychiatry Department and then Head of the Psychiatry Service at the same V.A. Hospital. During this time, he revolutionized the training program, shifting it from its Freudian psychodynamics orientation to one that followed the (for some) revolutionary ideas of Hellmuth Kaiser, who had been trained as a psychoanalyst in the 1920s at the BPI (the Berlin Psychoanalytic Institute).

Later, the Yale Psychiatriatry Deparment was taken back by those with a Freudian oreintation, and Fierman became the Director the Elmcrest Psychiatric Insitute in Portland (Connecticut, outside of Middletown), where he was able to impliment his vision of therapy, one in which the principles of what is now called Kaiserian therapy could be applied, making use of community meetings and the respected input of all of those involved in the treatment of the in-patients at the hospital.

To Lou, I repeat here the expression of my appreciation and serendipitous pleasure of learning through him the world of Hellmuth Kaiser. Lou was consistently encouraging of my work and further training in this domain beginning in the early 1970s. He was a colleague through the decades, and I am quite pleased that I was able to be instrumental in the re-publication of the book by Kaiser that Lou had edited back in 1965, which had gone out of print several years later. This came into print and Lou had the pleasure, I am told, of having held a copy up in each hand, with a large smile on his face. He died not long thereafter.

Some of Lou's caring and clarity of thought can be sensed in his book Freeing the Human Spirit: A Psychiatrist’s Journal; a key feature of his understanding of psychotherapy is captured by the title of another of his books, The Therapist Is the Therapy: Effective Psychotherapy II. See also here an article of his, You’d Be Paranoid Too If Everyone Were Against You.


© Mitchell D. Ginsberg, Ph.D.