Richard Isay

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Richard A Isay
Born Richard Alexander Isay
(1934-12-13)December 13, 1934[1]
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Died June 28, 2012(2012-06-28) (aged 77)[1]
New York, New York
Resting place Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn, New York
Occupation Psychiatrist, Psychoanalyst, Author, Gay Activist
Language English
Nationality American
Ethnicity Sephardic Jewish
Genre Gay Male Psychology
Notable works Being Homosexual: Gay Men and their Development, Becoming Gay: The Journey to Self-Acceptance, Commitment and Healing: Gay Men and the Need for Romantic Love
Spouse Gordon Harrell
Children David Isay, Joshua Isay

Richard A. Isay (December 13, 1934 – June 28, 2012) was an American psychiatrist, psychoanalyst, author and gay activist. He was a professor of psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medical College and a faculty member of the Columbia University Center for Psychoanalytic Training and Research. Isay is considered a pioneer who changed the way that psychoanalysts view homosexuality.[2]

Biography[edit]

Richard Isay was born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Isay graduated from Haverford College and the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry. Soon after completing his psychiatry residency at Yale University, he completed his training at the Western New England Psychoanalytic Institute. Throughout his career, Isay maintained a private practice of psychiatry and psychoanalysis and was an influential teacher and supervisor. He was the program chairman of the American Psychoanalytic Association (APsaA). He was also the chairman of the Committee on Gay and Lesbian Issues of the American Psychiatric Association.

In 1983, as chair of the APsaA’s program committee, Isay organized a panel called "New Perspectives on Homosexuality". Isay argued that homosexuality is a normal variant of sexual identity, and that psychoanalysts should stop trying to change the sexual orientation of their patients, which he considered injurious, creating a firestorm of controversy. "Several analysts walked out", Isay later recalled. Isay soon became the first openly gay member of the association.[3]

Isay wrote widely on the subjects of psychoanalysis and homosexuality, including texts such as Being Homosexual: Gay Men and Their Development.[4] Being Homosexual was one of the first books to argue that homosexuality is an inborn identity,[5] and the first to describe a non-pathological developmental pathway that is specific to gay men. It is widely considered a breakthrough in psychoanalytic theory and an important, historical work.

In an autobiographical chapter of his book, Becoming Gay: The Journey to Self-Acceptance,[6] Isay tells the story of how he spent ten years trying to change his homosexual orientation. During his analysis, he married. After completing his analysis, he realized that he was, in fact, gay. He was closeted for several years, during which time he became a prominent member of the American Psychoanalytic Association. He began to write and about homosexuality shortly after meeting his life partner, in 1979.

In Becoming Gay, Isay recounts that with the help of the American Civil Liberties Union, he threatened to sue the APsaA, due to their discriminatory policies. As a result, on May 9, 1991, the APsaA adopted a non-discrimination policy for the training of analytic candidates and changed its position statement on homosexuality. 1991 was also the year that the APsaA agreed to allow gays and lesbians to become training analysts, and to promote gay and lesbian teachers and supervisors. The ApsaA then became the first national mental health organization to support gay marriage, in 1997;[7] a policy that was spearheaded by Isay.

In his 2006 book, Commitment and Healing: Gay Men and the Need for Romantic Love,[8] Isay describes the difficulty many gay men have sustaining romantic, loving relationships.

Isay appeared on Larry King Live, The Oprah Winfrey Show, 20/20, The Morning Show and others.

In 1993 Isay was featured in the documentary "America Undercover: Why am I Gay? Stories of Coming Out in America."[9]

In 1995 Isay was profiled in the book, Gay Soul: Finding the Heart of Gay Spirit and Nature, by Mark Thompson.[10]

On August 13, 2011, Isay married Gordon Harrell, his partner of 32 years.[11]

On November 12, 2011, Isay received the highly prestigious Hans W. Loewald award, from the International Forum on Psychoanalytic Education.[12]

Isay died on June 28, 2012, of complications of adenocarcinoma. He was interred at Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, New York.[13]

On June 14, 2014, Isay was featured in the first gay themed tour of Green-Wood Cemetery.[14][15]

Education[edit]

  • Shady Side Academy, Pittsburgh, PA 1940-1953
  • Haverford College 1953-1957
  • MD University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry 1957-1961
  • Intern (rotating) University Hospitals of Cleveland (Case-Western Reserve) 1961-1962
  • Psychiatry, Yale University, Department of Psychiatry 1962-1965
  • Psychoanalysis, Western New England Institute for Psychoanalysis 1968-1973

Professional career[edit]

  • U.S. Navy Submarine Base, Groton, Connecticut 1965-1967
  • U.S. Navy Medical Corps, Lieutenant Commander, Staff Psychiatrist 1967-1975
  • Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, Yale University, Department of Psychiatry and Yale Child Study Center 1975-1981
  • Clinical Associate Professor of Psychiatry, Cornell Medical College 1981-1989
  • Faculty, Columbia University Center for Psychoanalytic Training and Research 1981-2012
  • Private Practice of Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy 1981-2012
  • Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, Cornell Medical College 1989-2012

Committees[edit]

  • Admissions Committee, Yale Medical School 1973-1981
  • Chairman, Extension Division, Western New England Psychoanalytic Society 1974-1980
  • Co-Editor, Newsletter, American Psychoanalytic Society 1976-1980
  • Secretary, Program Committee (31st Congress) International Psychoanalytical Association 1977-1979
  • President, Western New England Psychoanalytic Society 1979-1981
  • Chairman, American Program (32nd Congress) International Psychoanalytical Association 1979-1981
  • Co-Chairman, Program Committee, American Psychoanalytic Association 1980-1981
  • Chairman, Ad Hoc Committee on the Desirability of Non-Medical Training, American Psychoanalytic Association 1982
  • Chairman, Program Committee, American Psychoanalytic Association 1981-1984
  • Committee on Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Issues, American Psychiatric Association, Chairman 1991-1993

Awards[edit]

  • Gay and Lesbian Analysts "for outstanding contribution to psychoanalysis". (New York City 1996)
  • 1996 Best Psychology Book: Becoming Gay, Books For A Better Life, Pantheon Books (1996)[16]
  • Winfield Scott Award, "in recognition of outstanding contributions and his selfless approach to health care, education and activism on behalf of the Lesbian and Gay community". (July 28, 1998)
  • AGLP 2000 Distinguished Service Award, "for his pioneering work in combating homophobia in the psychoanalytic community as well as his many publications on the process of coming out and the psychological development of gay men and lesbians". Association of Gay and Lesbian Psychiatrists (May 17, 2000)[17]
  • Hans W. Loewald Memorial Award "for original and outstanding contributions to the ongoing development of psychoanalytic theory, practice and application". International Forum on Psychoanalytic Education, 22nd Annual Interdisciplinary Conference (November 12, 2011)[19]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Dr. Richard Isay, Who Fought Illness Tag for Gays, Dies at 77". New York Times. June 29, 2012. 
  2. ^ Chris Geidner (June 29, 2012). "Dr. Richard Isay, Who Fought Illness Tag for Gays, Dies at 77". New York Times. Retrieved 6 July 2012. 
  3. ^ "Gays in the Institutes". University of Rochester. Alumni Gazette. Retrieved 3 May 2013. 
  4. ^ Isay, Richard (1989). Being Homosexual: Gay Men and Their Development. Farrar, Straus and Giroux. p. 159. ISBN 0-374-11012-3. 
  5. ^ Karen McCally (2002). "Gays in the Institutes". Alumni Gazette. University of Rochester. Retrieved 21 October 2012. 
  6. ^ Isay, Richard (1996). Becoming Gay: The Journey to Self-Acceptance. Pantheon. p. 208. ISBN 0-307-38977-4. 
  7. ^ "Richard Isay, Psychologist, psychiatrist and gay pioneer, dies at 77". TowleRoad. June 30, 2012. Retrieved 2 May 2013. 
  8. ^ Isay, Richard (2006). Commitment and Healing: Gay Men and the Need for Romantic Love. Wiley. p. 160. ISBN 0-471-74049-7. 
  9. ^ "America Undercover: Why Am I Gay? Stories of Coming Out in America". IMDB. Retrieved 1 May 2010. 
  10. ^ Thompson, Mark (1995). Gay Soul: Finding the Heart of Gay Spirit and Nature. HarperOne. p. 272. ISBN 0-06-251041-X. 
  11. ^ Dan Littauer (July 1012). "http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/late-richard-isay-who-cured-psychiatry-gay-cures010712". Gay Star News. Retrieved 9 October 2012. 
  12. ^ "Hans W Loewald Award". Past Recipients of the Award. IFPE. Retrieved 11 December 2012. 
  13. ^ Richman, Jeff (July 3, 2012). "Dr Richard Isay Dead at 77". Green-Wood Cemetery. Retrieved 11 December 2012. 
  14. ^ "Gay Green-Wood Trolley Tour". Green-Wood. Green-Wood. 
  15. ^ "The Gay Graves Tour". Walk About New York. Walk About New York. June 18, 2014. Retrieved August 13, 2014. 
  16. ^ "Becoming Gay". Becoming Gay. Texas Travel and Leisure. Retrieved 11 December 2012. 
  17. ^ "AGLP History". AGLP History. Association of Gay and Lesbian Psychiatrists. Retrieved 11 December 2012. 
  18. ^ "Callen-Lorde Honors Navratilova, Reed, and Isay". Gay City News. Nov 17–23, 2005. Retrieved 11 December 2012. 
  19. ^ "Hans W Loewald Award". Past Recipients of the Award. IFPE. Retrieved 11 December 2012.