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Steven M. Southwick

April 24, 1948 ~ April 20, 2022 (age 73)

Obituary

Southwick, Steven M., M.D., one of the world’s leading experts on psychological traumatization and human resilience died on April 20, 2022 at the age of 73. At the time of his death, Steven was the Glenn H. Greenberg Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry, PTSD and Resilience at the Yale School of Medicine and Medical Director Emeritus of the Clinical Neuroscience Division of the National Center for PTSD of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. A groundbreaking psychiatric researcher, he and his colleagues identified the first neural mechanism contributing to PTSD symptoms. Inspired in part by the writings of Dr. Viktor Frankl, he was drawn to the capacity for resilience after traumatization. He and his colleagues, particularly Dennis Charney, M.D., identified psychological, biological, and social processes that promoted resilience to the detrimental effects of stress in studies of combat veterans, 9/11 First Responders, U.S. Special Forces trainees, and other groups. This work led to a new vision of human resilience that encompassed these dimensions of stress response outlined in seminal publications, including his book with Dr. Charney, Resilience: The Science of Mastering Life’s Greatest Challenges.

Dr. Southwick grew up in a prominent medical family. He was born on April 24,1948 in Boston, MA. His father, Dr. Wayne Southwick was the founding Chair of the Department of Orthopedic Surgery at the Yale School of Medicine. His brother, Frederick, is Professor of Medicine at the University of Florida. He played football and wrestling at Hopkins School and Yale College. His sister Marcia was a tenured Professor of Creative Writing at University of Nebraska.  He served in the U.S. Army and was stationed in Germany. He then graduated from George Washington School of Medicine, completed internship at Francis Scott Key Hospital associated with Johns Hopkins Medical School, and Psychiatry Residency at Yale University. He remained at Yale throughout his career, while serving as Adjunct Professor at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. At Yale, he developed a distinguished reputation as an expert in PTSD treatment and the education of medical students, and trainees in psychiatry, psychology, and related specialties.

He was respected and beloved by those who knew him. He was kind, gentle, selfless man with an ever present sense of humor. He also was a person of the highest level of commitment and integrity. He embodied resiliency, a trait he studied and fostered in others. This was expressed in the way he balanced his work life with physical activities, including biking, hiking, and kayaking with family and friends.  He and his wife Bernadette especially treasured kayaking to the Thimble Islands, hiking, and bicycling throughout the Connecticut countryside.

Dr. Southwick was preceded in death by his parents Ann and Wayne Southwick and sister-in-law Mary and survived by his siblings Frederick and Marcia. He was a devoted and loving husband, father, and grandfather. He is survived by his wife Bernadette, daughter Christina Baker, son-in-law David Baker, and grandchildren Avery and Jaxon. He is also survived by his sister-in-law Kathie, nieces Ashley Schivelbein, and nephews Nick Levis and Peter Southwick.

Dr. Southwick was the recipient of numerous honors. On January 23, 2019, Senator Richard Blumenthal (D, CT) read a tribute to him into the Congressional Record including, “His impressive work has helped make great strides in the efforts to alleviate suffering and promote resilience for veterans.”

Memorial Services will be virtually held on April 30, 2022, beginning at 10 a.m.

Contributions in his memory may be made to:

Mount Sinai Prostate Cancer Research Center of Excellence (proceeds for research and fellowship in Dr. Southwick’s honor) to Ash Tewari, Department of Urology Ichan School of Medicine, One Gustave L. Levy Place, Box 1272, NY, NY 10029, USA

For the Yale Obituary, please visit: https://medicine.yale.edu/news-article/in-memoriam-steven-southwick-md/

To sign the online guestbook, please visit hawleylincolnmemorial.com

Interment will be private at the Connecticut State Veterans Cemetery, Middletown.

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