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Theodore and Ruth Lidz papers

Call Number: MS 895

Scope and Contents

The papers consist of correspondence, writings, and data files documenting the professional careers of Ruth and Theodore Lidz. The papers focus on their professional lives, particularly from the 1950s to the 1980s, highlighting the Lidzes' study of the importance of the family environment in cases of schizophrenia.


  • 1927-2001


Conditions Governing Access

Letters of recommendation in box 14 are closed for seventy-five years from the date of creation as established by Yale Corporation regulations.

Research data in boxes 28-45 is closed for seventy-five years from the date of creation (2011-2060).

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright for unpublished materials authored or otherwise produced by Theodore and Ruth Lidz has been transferred to Yale University. These materials may be used for non-commercial purposes without seeking permission from Yale University as the copyright holder. For other uses of these materials, please contact

Copyright status for other collection materials is unknown. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.) beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owners. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Theodore Lidz, 1978 and 1995-1996; and of the estate of Theodore Lidz, 2001.


Arranged in five series: I. Ruth Lidz Papers, 1938-1995, n.d. II. General Files, 1939-2000, n.d. III. Writings and Research, 1936-2000, n.d. IV. Teaching, 1947-1972, n.d. V. Personal, 1927-2001, n.d.


20 Linear Feet

Language of Materials


Catalog Record

A record for this collection is available in Orbis, the Yale University Library catalog

Persistent URL


The papers consist of correspondence, writings, and data files documenting the professional careers of Ruth and Theodore Lidz. The papers focus on their professional lives, particularly from the 1950s to the 1980s, highlighting the Lidzes' study of the importance of the family environment in cases of schizophrenia.

Biographical / Historical

Theodore and Ruth Lidz were psychoanalysts who collaborated on the study and treatment of schizophrenia and also were interested in the art and anthropology of the indigenous people of the South Pacific. During a long career, Theodore Lidz wrote more than 175 articles and eight books exploring familial, social, and cultural factors involved in normal development and the development of mental disorders. Ruth Lidz also studied the psychological aspects of abortion, human fertility, and the problems of pregnant adolescents.

Theodore Lidz was born on April 1, 1910, in New York City. He attended Columbia College and the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, receiving his B.A. in 1931 and his M.D. in 1936. After two years of medical internship at New Haven Hospital, he moved to Baltimore. In 1938, he became a resident in psychiatry at the Henry Phipps Psychiatric Clinic, Johns Hopkins University.

Ruth Wilmanns Lidz was born on June 18, 1910, in Heidelberg, Germany, the daughter of Karl Wilmanns, a professor of psychiatry at Heidelberg University and the granddaughter of the chemist Victor Meyer. Leaving Germany in the middle of her medical studies because she could no longer live under the Hitler regime, she spent a year in Sweden and completed her medical degree at Basel, Switzerland, in 1935. After an internship in Istanbul, she came to the Henry Phipps Psychiatric Clinic at Johns Hopkins University to work on insulin therapy for schizophrenia.

Theodore and Ruth Lidz met and married in 1939. Their first son was born in 1941. When, in 1942, Theodore left for military service in the South Pacific with the Johns Hopkins Medical Unit, Ruth was placed in charge of the Phipps chemistry laboratory, became the Hopkins' electroencephalographer, and was psychiatrist to the well-baby clinic. Theodore served in New Zealand, Fiji, and Burma and was the only psychiatrist for several hundred psychiatric casualties from Guadalcanal. On his return to Hopkins in 1946, Theodore became chief of the Psychiatric Section of the Department of Medicine and initiated research on psychosomatic medicine. He continued at Johns Hopkins until 1951, as an instructor and then associate professor. With Ruth, he studied psychiatric problems among parents of patients hospitalized with schizophrenia. This work served as a basis for later studies. While in analysis with Frieda Fromm-Reichmann, Ruth recognized her artistic interests that had been discouraged by her father. In her middle age, she became a fine sculptor in her spare time

In 1951, Ruth and Theodore Lidz moved to New Haven where Theodore was appointed as professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the Yale School of Medicine and psychiatrist-in-chief of the Yale Psychiatric Clinic. Ruth established her psychoanalytic practice and joined the clinical faculty of the Yale Department of Psychiatry in 1965. Theodore was chairman of the department from 1967 to 1969. He was president of the American Psychosomatic Society from 1957 to 1958 and of the American College of Psychoanalysis in 1992. His book, The Person, was widely translated and became a standard text. He received the Frieda Fromm-Reichmann Award of the American Academy of Psychoanalysis, the Stanley Dean Award of the American College of Psychiatrists, the William C. Meninger Award of the American College of Physicians, and the Van Giesen Award of the New York State Psychiatric Institute, primarily for his studies of the relationship between psychiatric disorders and the family environment of the patient. Although he never denied a genetic factor in causing schizophrenia, he disputed the interpretation of the statistical studies of Kety, Wender, and Rosenthal that schizophrenia was primarily a genetic disorder. Both Ruth and Theodore Lidz had reservations about the long term treatment of schizophrenic patients on neuroleptic drugs. The drugs muted negative feelings and outbursts, thus suppressing meaningful material for a therapeutic relationship. They were convinced of the patients' need for psychotherapy

On a trip to the South Pacific in 1970, the Lidzes combined their psychiatric and anthropological interests. Their study of initiation rituals in Papua New Guinea led to their book Oedipus in the Stone Age. They also collected art objects from a variety of cultures. They donated a large collection of their indigenous artifacts to the Peabody Museum of Natural History in 1986.

Although he retired in 1978, Theodore continued to write, lecture, and treat patients into the middle of the 1990s. To the end, he remained eager to convince others about the relevance of the family as an important factor in achieving a more fully integrated psychoanalytic theory. Ruth published twenty-five articles and contributions to books, including Schizophrenia and the Family and The Woman as Patient. Ruth died on October 9, 1995. Theodore died on February 16, 2001. They were survived by three sons, Victor, Charles, and Jerome.

Guide to the Theodore and Ruth Lidz Papers
Under Revision
compiled by Diane E. Kaplan and Bella Z. Berson
July 2008
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Part of the Manuscripts and Archives Repository

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