EUROPEAN FAMILY THERAPY ASSOCIATION
CONNECTING FAMILY THERAPISTS AND TRAINERS
(1917-1993) was born in New York City
He received a doctorate in psychology from Columbia University and a medical degree from the Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn. Early advocate of community-based outpatient care for the mentally ill, became the former chairman of the department of mental health sciences at the Hahnemann School of Medicine in Philadelphia (1973). In the early 1960’s, he was Director of the division of social and community psychiatry at the Albert Einstein School of Medicine at Yeshiva University in New York and Director of the state’s Bronx Psychiatric Center where he created a new atmosphere. The first in the States to demonstrate the efficacy of day treatment as an alternative to hospitalization for seriously mentally ill persons.
Maurizio Andolfi: Many people never heard of Israel Zwerling. He was the greatest social psychiatrist in U.S. and he did in the Bronx State Hospital what Franco Basaglia and other anti-psychiatrists were doing in Europe at the same time. Israel became the director of Bronx State Hospital in 1966 and he transformed the place. He lived with his family inside the hospital and he opened it up for voluntary and no voluntary patients. They could live and come back to the hospital at their wishes. He discovered that the presence of family, relatives, friends and normal community life provided a type of support that was missing at the hospital.
He was already the Dean of the psychiatric department at Albert Einstein College of medicine and he built up a very important family therapy section with people like Chris Beels, Phil Guerin, Albert Scheflen, all very important innovators of that time.
I was very lucky to get a fellowship on social community psychiatry at Albert Einstein college of medicine which allowed me to work widely in the South Bronx Area with marginalized families and communities.
Later, he moved and became the Dean at the Hahnemann Medical college in Philadelphia and I followed him as a visiting professor for several years. He was very genial and was able to sign a contract with the city of Philadelphia, teaching all the residents in psychiatry at the local community Mental Health Centers. They had to move from the nice auditorium in Civic Center and learned psychiatry on the spot.