Hans Steiner, child and adolescent psychiatrist, dies at 76 | News Center


“I find that my writing and my psychiatric practice mesh beautifully,” Steiner wrote on his website. “As I help patients develop and reshape the narrative of their lives, I employ similar skills when I write about fictional and non-fictional characters. My practice and my creative writing stand in a constant, refreshing dialectic which invigorates both.”

From Vienna to Palo Alto

Steiner was born on June 27, 1946, in Vienna, Austria, a year after the end of World War II. He grew up in a working-class family that struggled to make ends meet as Austria rebuilt itself after the war. In 1965, he became the first in his family to attend university, graduating from the University of Vienna with a doctor of medicine degree in 1972.

In his first year at the university, he met his wife, Judith, an American traveling in Europe, on a blind date. They were married in 1967.

He completed residencies at SUNY Upstate Medical Center in Syracuse, New York, and the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. In 1978, Steiner was hired as the assistant director of psychosomatic inpatient service at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital, which fulfilled his wife’s wish to return to the San Francisco Bay Area. He joined the Stanford School of Medicine faculty in 1981 as clinical assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences.

During his career, Steiner authored and edited more than 500 articles, abstracts, reviews and books. He received the Outstanding Mentor Award from the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry nine times and was a Lifetime Distinguished Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association.

He became an emeritus professor in 2009, but remained active in research, patient care and his numerous writing projects. In 2011, he was named the director of Stanford Medicine’s Program in Psychiatry and the Lawwhich provides forensic evaluations for legal purposes, such as competency to stand trial and mental states.

In 2017, he published Your Secret Mind, with co-author Rebecca Hall, a medical writer and former research assistant in his lab. The book helped readers understand and gain access to their unconscious mind, especially through creativity. It stemmed from a popular class he taught for many years to undergraduates and adults.

Steiner’s seemingly indefatigable energy for his many endeavors was made possible by his disciplined time management, his wife said. His strategy was to dedicate one day a week to each project — one day for consultations, one day helping people with their papers and so on.

Steiner’s father had been a swimming coach, and Steiner was always athletic. He enjoyed skiing, biking and playing tennis. His interest in sports also extended to studying the mental health of athletes.

In his last years, Steiner was working on a novel, his second. (His first was written in German when he was a medical student and typed by his wife on a Smith Corona portable typewriter.) His unfinished second novel was based on the experiences of his family in post-war Vienna, the city that would always represent home to him.


In his own words, Steiner described how his youth influenced his life’s work. “From these brief sketches of my early life, one easily can understand how I became interested in helping youth, athletes, people in all kinds of trouble, with few resources, and how I to this day relish teaching as a tool to bring forward in time the wisdom and knowledge of past generations,” he wrote.

In addition to his wife, Steiner is survived by his sister, Britta Schmid; his three children: Remy, Hans-Christoph and Joshua; and four grandsons.



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