Bernard Perry Ottenberg

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1924 - 2017
Bernard Perry Ottenberg, MD, psychiatrist and professor of psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania, passed away March 7, 2017. He was 92 years old.
Born in Philadelphia on November 14, 1924, Dr. Ottenberg attended Oak Lane Country Day School, graduated from Central High School and attended Temple University for one year. He was drafted into the United States Army during WW2 and served overseas in south Asia for about three years. After being honorably discharged, he attended Harvard University, where he earned an AB in 1948 and an MD in 1952. During that time, he also met and married June Chamberlain, to whom he remained married until his death. Dr. Ottenberg returned to the Philadelphia area, where he started his medical internship in 1952, followed by a residency in psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania. In addition to his private practice, he had a lifelong interest in social psychiatry. "I've spent my whole life trying to articulate the bridges between dynamic psychiatry and emerging social issues and problems," Dr. Ottenberg said in a 1984 Pennsylvania Gazette article.
Dr. Ottenberg credited his mentors and Harvard, Penn, and elsewhere for guiding him toward psychiatry. "Mentors have played a major, major psychological role in my specialization," he told Penn Psychiatry Perspective, noting that three stood out in particular, Harvard sociologist Talcott Parsons, Marvin Stein, MD, one of his colleagues at Penn, and Columbia psychiatrist Viola Bernard who worked with Dr. Ottenberg on social psychiatry.
In 1956, Dr. Ottenberg became a Research Fellow and Instructor in Penn's Psychiatry Department. In 1970, he was appointed Clinical Professor. Throughout his time at Penn, he maintained a private practice as a therapist, which lasted for almost sixty years, well into his mid-eighties.
Dr. Ottenberg was a member and leader of the Group for the Advancement of Psychiatry. He was also active on the American Friends Service Committee, the Viola W. Bernard Foundation and other organizations. He participated very actively in the Philadelphia art scene for decades, serving on the board of Moore College of Art and the Philadelphia Academy of Fine Arts. As well as lecturing, supervising residents and giving numerous interviews on social issues, he published over 100 articles in psychiatric journals and general newspapers, many assembled in a manuscript collection, entitled Psychiatry and Social Issues. He summered in Moultonborough, New Hampshire, where he and his wife had a house and loved the countryside.
Dr. Ottenberg is survived by his wife of 65 years, June Chamberlain Ottenberg, a retired Temple University professor of music. He is also survived by his four children, their spouses, nine grandchildren and two great grandchildren. A private memorial service will be held in a few weeks.
Published in The New York Times from Mar. 20 to Mar. 24, 2017
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