Dr. Louis B. Fierman

dr. louis fierman
Dr. Louis B. Fierman, an innovator in the field of psychotherapy and psychiatry, a much loved therapist, a longtime Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Yale University, Medical Director of Elmcrest Psychiatric Institute in Portland, CT, and of Psychotherapy Associates in New Haven, CT, died on Wednesday, November 7, 2012 at the age of 90. Dr. Fierman was born in Cleveland, Ohio, graduated from Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in 1947, and came to Yale after serving as public health officer stationed in the town of Fukuoka while a Captain in the US Army in occupied Japan. He was appointed chief resident at the Yale Psychiatric Institute and the Yale-New Haven Hospital Psychiatric Service and remained an associate clinical professor at Yale until 2011. Dr. Fierman was the foremost authority on the work of Hellmuth Kaiser, who pioneered the field of nondirective psychotherapy. Dr. Fierman edited and published a collection of Kaiser's works, Effective Psychotherapy. He is the author of several other books, including his latest, Shrink: On Becoming a Psychiatrist, as well as countless professional articles. Those works are on permanent display as part of the Louis B. Fierman and Hellmuth Kaiser Archives, opened at the Allen Memorial Library at Case Western Reserve Medical School in April 2011. While serving as the medical director for Elmcrest Psychiatric Institute, Dr. Fierman pioneered a community-oriented approach to in-patient treatment. The hospital was the first to prohibit tobacco use on the grounds and provided patients with opportunities to engage in art, music and horticulture therapy. Dr. Fierman put together a team of therapists, architects and designers to create a truly 'therapeutic environment.' In connection with his innovative work, he was a frequent speaker on Connecticut television and radio programs on topics connected with mental health. Dr. Fierman was also President of the Connecticut Psychiatric Society, Chief of the Psychiatric Service at the West Haven Veterans' Administration Medical Center, a member of the Joint Commission on the Accreditation of Hospitals, and Medical Director of Psychotherapy Associates, a private practice group in New Haven, Connecticut. He was a Distinguished Life Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association. Dr. Fierman was an active participant, former president, and first chair for French horn in several local orchestras, include the Nutmeg Symphony Orchestra and the Hamden Symphony Orchestra. He began playing the French horn while in grade school, and music was a life-long passion. Dr. Fierman is survived by Dr. Ella Yensen Fierman, his wife of 65 years, his son Daniel, his daughter Lauren and son-in-law Daryll, and his beloved grandchildren Kelsey and Nicholas. In lieu of flowers, contributions in Louis's honor may be made to: The Medical Annual Fund Case Western Reserve University, School of Medicine 10900 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, OH 44106-7095. Burial will be private. A memorial service will be held at Beecher & Bennett Funeral home, 2300 Whitney Avenue, Hamden, CT, on November 18 at 2:00 pm. Friends and family are invited to gather prior to the service from 12 to 2 to share memories.

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Memories Timeline


  1. Ella, Laurie & Dan, I cannot tell you how sad it was to hear of Lou’s passing. Glenn and I wish to extend our sincerest sympathy to all of you. Lou was my friend and my mentor. He was fair, honest, funny, sympathic, brilliant and loved his family so much. We are so glad we went to his last book signing and got to spend time with him. I will miss exchanging emails with him and hearing his voice on the phone. Sadness fills my heart and I can only imagine the loss you all are feeling. You are all in my thoughts and prayers. Love to all of you from both of us.

  2. To all of you regarding my father: Thank you for all your support. He was an important part of many peoples’ lives, revered and loved. We miss him very much. I was with him when he died. He was very much at peace that day. This has been difficult for me/us, but it was his time to go so he went. Thank you all again for your love and support. Dan

  3. Dr Ella and family. My deepest sympathy for your loss. I share this moment with all of you. The most respected colleague and friend. Farewell Lou. Juan and Cristina

  4. Lou’s mother and my dad were cousins. Our family spent many Sunday dinners with the Fiermans. We LOVED Tante Rifka and Uncle Bennie and the whole family. I have many fond memories of Lou .. quiet, reserved and very bright! He inspired me to attend college .. the first in my family to do so, as he was, too. My sincere condolences to Lou’s wife, children, and grandchildren. I wish I had known you all!

  5. Dear Aunt Ella and Family, We are all So very sorry to hear of your loss. Ron has so many fond memories of growing up with Uncle Lou at his side and of the many visits with the family in Con. He made Joel and I feel so special to be part of the family. So sorry, we won’t be able to be with you for the memorial services, but our thoughts and prayers will always be with you. All our love, Ron, Sue and Joel Fierman

  6. Dear Ella and Family, I am sorry to hear of Lou’s passing. I will remember him as being extraordinarily inspirational and intellectually stimulating. He taught me to ponder the deepest truths of being human. He had a highly productive life that deeply touched many people. I am sorry for your loss.

  7. Dear Ella, I was very sorry to hear about Lou’s passing. I will tell my mother as well, although her memory is quite aways off from where it used to be. I was very touched to see Lou at my father’s memorial a few years back, and while I hadn’t seen him in ages, I recognized the same combination of kindness and humor that always characterized my memory of him. I had forgotten about his having kept up the french horn for so long, and it was a wonderful connection – like Bob Rubenstein and his painting. Please accept all of our heartfelt condolences from our family to yours.

  8. Dear Fierman Family and Friends: I send my deepest condolences at the loss of our dearest Dr. Fierman. I had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Fierman while working on his archive at CWRU and learned about his life through his delightful stories. He talked about his deep love for his family, his incredible military and medical career – which led to his important contributions to the field of Psychiatry. The archive was a labor of love for me and I am grateful that we not only celebrated with him the grand opening, but also honored him by establishing the Dr. Louis B. Fierman and Dr. Hellmuth Kaiser Archive that will serve as a lasting tribute for generations to come. He impacted so many lives – so glad I had a chance to meet him. My thoughts are with you.

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