Psychology department chair dies

Psychology Department Chair Susan Nolen-Hoeksema ’82 died Wednesday in Yale-New Haven Hospital. She was 53.

Nolen-Hoeksema was treated at both Yale-New Haven and Yale Health over the past month after contracting a serious blood infection, and her doctors eventually diagnosed a heart issue requiring surgery, according to a Thursday email sent to faculty, students and staff in the Psychology Department. She died in the Yale-New Haven intensive care unit following heart surgery.

Psychology professors Kelly Brownell, Marcia Johnson and Jack Dovidio, who informed the department of the news, said in the email that Nolen-Hoeksema’s death was “unexpected” and “devastating,” adding that the Yale community will miss her generosity, support and wisdom.

“This news is shocking and devastating to all of us who knew Susan as a vibrant, energetic, warm, and generous person,” the psychology professors said. “She has left us far too soon.”

Since 2004, Nolen-Hoeksema has led Yale’s Depression and Cognition Program, which studies how depression affects cognitive processes and mental and physical health. She has received national recognition for her work on depression, women’s mental health and mood regulation, including the Leadership Award from the American Psychological Association’s Committee on Women in Psychology and the Research Career Award from the National Institute of Mental Health.

Nolen-Hoeksema was born in Springfield, Ill. and completed her undergraduate degree in psychology at Yale. She received her doctorate from the University of Pennsylvania and was a faculty member at Stanford University and the University of Michigan before returning to Yale in 2004.

Nolen-Hoeksema was the author of multiple books on women’s mental health, including “The Power of Women” and “Women Who Think Too Much: How to Break Free of Overthinking and Reclaim Your Life,” as well as scholarly works and textbooks.

Nolen-Hoeksema is survived by her husband, Richard, and son, Michael.

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