A Yale-trained historian of ideas specializing in the history of American medicine and psychiatry, Paul E. Stepansky, Ph.D. enjoyed a 30-year career as consulting editor and publisher for leading psychiatrists and psychoanalysts in America. Long sought out by physician-writers seeking high-level help developing book projects, Stepansky has worked collaboratively with senior writers in fields as diverse as psychiatry, medical sociology, psychopharmacology, surgery, and architecture. Within psychiatry and psychoanalysis, Margaret Mahler and Heinz Kohut were among his private clients. From 1983 through 2006, he was Managing Director of The Analytic Press, Inc., which he built into a premier American imprint of mental health books and journals.
Stepansky’s writing career dates back to his undergraduate years at Princeton, when he was hired by University of Pennsylvania psychiatrist Karl Rickels to help write journal articles based on clinical drug trials conducted by Rickels’ psychopharmacology research unit. He shared authorship of several of the unit’s publications on psychotropic drug use in family practice. During this same period, he was hired by Princeton’s Department of Sociology to write critical reviews of books that applied Erik Erikson’s then popular psychosocial theory of development to historical subjects. He graduated from Princeton in 1973 as a university scholar and recipient of the Walter Phelps Hall Prize in European history. At Yale, where he received graduate training in European intellectual history, he was the first Kanzer Foundation Fellow for Psychoanalytic Studies in the Humanities.
Stepansky’s own scholarship has taken him from early articles on the role of psychiatry in family medicine; to history of psychoanalysis (A History of Aggression in Freud ; In Freud’s Shadow: Adler in Context ); to interdisciplinary studies in medicine and psychiatry (Freud, Surgery, and the Surgeons ); to historical critiques of psychiatry and psychoanalysis in relation to scientific medicine as it evolved in the late-nineteenth and twentieth centuries (Psychoanalysis at the Margins ).
In 2006, Stepansky stepped down from his position at The Analytic Press to pursue full-time scholarly work in the history and sociology of American medicine. Topics of special interest to him include the history of psychiatric and medical book and journal publishing in twentieth-century America; the history of primary care medicine in America; the history of alternative medicine in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries; and the interface of psychiatry and medicine in America since World War II. He retains appointments at Weill-Cornell Medical College, where he is interdisciplinary research faculty at the DeWitt Wallace Institute of the History of Psychiatry, and Montclair State University, where he is adjunct professor of the history and sociology of medicine.
In 2010 Stepansky launched Keynote Books to publish and distribute his stirring memoir of his father, William Stepansky, M.D., a remarkable GP of the postwar generation, and other general-interest works in medicine and society. The Last Family Doctor: Remembering My Father’s Medicine (Keynote, 2011) has been praised as a “perfect recapturing of an earlier era in medicine” (Howard Rabinowitz, M.D., Jefferson Medical College) and “a unique and compelling account of mid-twentieth century American medical practice” (Howard Kushner, Ph.D., Emory University). William Stepansky, M.D., indelibly captured in his son’s portrait, has been deemed “the doctor we all deserve” (Daniel Carlat, M.D., The Carlat Psychiatry Report) and, for young physicians, “a model for behavior” (Howard Spiro, M.D., Yale Journal for Humanities in Medicine). Using his father’s “medicine” as entry to the evolution (and devolution) of primary care since World War II, Stepansky compares postwar general practice with today’s primary care medicine, so that his portrait of his father’s medical world is “accompanied by extraordinarily acute observations on the significance of a personal story to illustrate major changes in the history of medicine in the mid-to-late decades of the twentieth century” (John Burnham, Ph.D., Ohio State University).