Title: Professor Emeritus
Areas: Social Psychology/Intradisciplinary Health
I received my doctorate in Lifespan Developmental Psychology in 1983 from Temple University and undertook a postdoctoral fellowship at the Max Planck Institute for Education and Human Development in Berlin, West Germany from 1982 to 1984. I came to Rutgers in 1984 and was promoted to Associate Professor with tenure in 1990. In 1994, I returned to school to study Clinical Psychology and earned my Certificate of Postdoctoral Respecialization in Clinical Psychology from Teachers College, Columbia University in 1998. In addition to my academic responsibilities, I have a private practice in Highland Park.
My early research focused on the ways in which adults continue to develop cognitively and intellectually across the adult lifespan. In particular, I studied postformal operational thinking and wisdom, as well as the interface between emotion and cognition (i.e., the ways in which emotional maturity positively impacts cognitive development and judgments about human affairs).
In the last decade or more, my interests have turned toward the clinical, with object relations and self-psychological theories guiding my clinical work and research. These are psychodynamic (“neo-Freudian”) theories that propose that our earliest experiences are internalized in emotional and cognitive structures that influence expectations for interactions with others in the world. These internalized expectations start with our earliest preverbal relationship with parents and other significant figures in our lives and become elaborated and expanded into increasingly complex and stable structures throughout the lifespan. These lead to distortions as well as accuracy in our understanding of present reality and, in turn, have the developmental potential to become more inclusive and accurate in processing both internal and external (often conflictual) experiences. In a “relational” framework, therapy provides clients with the opportunity to rework these structures in the context of a safe, empathic therapeutic bond with another person (the therapist), which typically evokes the conflictual issues and provides opportunities for resolving them.
Since turning my attention to clinical issues, I have worked on a psychobiography of a young woman who committed suicide over 50 years ago and am currently working on a conceptual project exploring the nature of multiplicity and “coconsciousness” in people with and without dissociative disorders.