Frederick (Fritz) Redlich,Êa former dean of the Yale School of Medicine, died of congestive heart failure on Jan. 1 in the Yale-New Haven Hospital. He was 93.
Redlich, who joined the University faculty in 1942, helped to revive a leaderless department of psychiatry by encouraging a more multidisciplinary approach to the field. For the 17 years after Redlich’s promotion to professor and chairman in 1950, the Psychiatry Department prospered, gaining national regard under his leadership.
As the Medical School dean from 1967 to 1972, Redlich established a new Department of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry and a new medical education program. He left Yale in 1977 to teach at the University of California, Los Angeles until 1982, and he returned to New Haven in 1999.
“Even after his retirement, Fritz maintained close ties with the Yale Department of Psychiatry. When he returned to the New Haven area, I was privileged enough to obtain his wise counsel on issues vital to the current department,” said Benjamin S. Bunney, the Medical School’s current chairman of psychiatry. “One of the things I admired most about him was his ability to both invent and carry out his work’s vision.”
Redlich’s son Peter Redlich said his father had always been deeply invested in his work at the University.
“Yale was my father’s greatest love during most of his lifetime,” Redlich said.
Born to Ludwig and Emma Redlich in 1910 in Vienna, Austria, Redlich studied psychology and medicine at the University of Vienna, earning his medical degree in 1935. He continued his education with an internship and residency training in neuropsychiatry until 1938, when Redlich immigrated to the United States with his wife, Elsa.
Redlich had a great love for America ever since he studied as an exchange student at Wittenberg College of Ohio, from 1930 to 1931. He later served for a year during World War II in the U.S. Army Medical Service.
The co-author of six books and nearly 100 scientific articles, Redlich was elected a member of the National Academy of Sciences, Institute of Medicine, and of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, receiving Distinguished Service Awards from both the American College of Psychiatrists and the American Psychiatric Association.
In one of his most distinguished books, Social Class and Mental Illness, written with Yale sociologist August Hollingshead, Redlich demonstrated that lower-class patients often received inferior forms of psychiatric treatment. Redlich’s work on this book helped give shape to the subdiscipline of social psychiatry and also led to the creation of the Yale-Connecticut Mental Health Center, which Redlich co-founded and first directed.
Another renowned book of Redlich’s is Hitler: Diagnosis of a Destructive Prophet, which considers the possibility that Hitler may have suffered from a mental disease, though Redlich ultimately concludes that he was most likely not severely mentally ill.
To his close friend and colleague, George F. Mahl, Redlich was more than a writer, scientist and scholar. Mahl said Redlich also loved hiking, skiing and sailing and had a great appreciation for music, art, literature and close friendship.
“He was not all work. He was a courageous and daring man. Those traits characterized everything he did,” said Mahl. “I met Fritz in 1947 as an advanced graduate student and became a member of his department in 1948. He and I remained close friends all the way until his death.”
Mahl said it cannot be overemphasized how novel and important Redlich’s extension of psychiatry as a multidisciplinary field proved to be.
Redlich is survived by his wife of 49 years, Herta Glaz, an internationally celebrated opera singer; his son, Peter; and a grandson.