Frederick C. Redlich, M.D.
Professor of Psychiatry, Emeritus
Dr. Frederick Carl Redlich died at Yale-New Haven Hospital of congestive heart failure on January 1, 2004 at age 93. He was born in Vienna and received his medical degree from the University of Vienna in 1935. His internship and residency training were also in Vienna. He was an exchange student in Wittenberg College, Ohio, in 1930-31. He began psychoanalytic training at the Vienna Psychoanalytic Institute in 1937. He emigrated to the United States after the Austrian Anschluss in 1938. He was a resident in neurology at the Boston City Hospital, 1940-1942, did a residency at the Psychiatric Inpatient Clinic of the New Haven Hospital, 1942-43, joined the Yale University medical faculty in 1942, became an American citizen in 1943, and served in the Army Medical Corps late in World War II, 1944-45. In 1945 he began training at the New York Psychoanalytic Institute, graduating in 1948, and achieving Board Certification in Psychoanalysis in 1953. Redlich became chairman of the Department of Psychiatry at Yale in 1950 and remained chair for 17 years, promoting a multi-disciplinary curriculum. He was dean of the Medical School at Yale from 1967 to 1972, where his emphasis was on fostering clinical research. After retiring from teaching at Yale in 1977, he taught at UCLA through 1982.
Redlich was a distinguished medical and psychiatric educator. He co-authored six scholarly works, including (with Eugene B. Brody) Psychotherapy with Schizophrenics (1952). His text, (with Merton Gill and Richard Newman) The Initial Interview in Psychiatric Practice (1954) is a classic still valued in training mental health clinicians today.
With his background in the social democratic culture of Vienna, Redlich was a psychiatrist who studied the relationship between the social environment and mental illness. He was a founding figure of social psychiatry. His book (with August B. Hollingshead), Social Class and Mental Illness (1964), documented the psychiatric problems and the lack of mental health services in low-income urban neighborhoods. The authors also discussed the effects of untreated mental illness on life in that environment. In 1964 Redlich was co-founder and first director of the Yale-Connecticut Mental Health Center to provide psychological care for poor people in New Haven. President Jimmy Carter appointed him to the Presidential Commission for the Study of Ethical Problems in Medicine and in Biomedical and Behavioral Research in 1979. He was president of the Foundations Fund for Research in Psychiatry.
Redlich's last book was a comprehensive medical and psychological biography of the Führer, Hitler: Diagnosis of a Destructive Prophet (1998), which he described as a "pathography." He identified Adolf Hitler's three medical and psychological problems as Parkinson's disease, coronary heart disease, and giant cell arteritis, an autoimmune disease that causes chronic inflammation of the arteries, with headaches and visual problems. He also found that Hitler suffered from spina bifida occulta, a condition that causes dysfunction of the genitalia. He concluded that, though exhibiting extreme paranoia and defenses "that could fill a psychiatry textbook," Hitler was probably not mentally ill. His paranoid delusions "could be viewed as a symptom of mental disorder, but most of the personality functioned normally." Hitler believed his condition was caused by syphilis, which the Führer considered a Jewish disease, and "became possessed with the idea of saving the Germans, and eventually all of humanity, from the great scourges – syphilis, Judaism and its offspring Christianity." Redlich took a position on Hitler's legal culpability and moral agency, writing that Hitler "knew what he was doing and he chose to do it with pride and enthusiasm."
Redlich's son Erik died in 2002. He is survived by his wife of 49 years, the mezzo-soprano Herta Glaz, of Hamden, Connecticut; a son, Peter, of Chester, Connecticut; and a grandson. "Fritz," as he was known to his friends, is sorely missed by those who knew and loved him and by his many students who appreciated his wisdom and humanity.
Calvin J. Frederick
Robert O. Pasnau