Obituary: Christoph Heinicke, 85, psychoanalyst, head of UCLA Family Development Project
June 22, 2012
3 min read
Christoph Heinicke, a distinguished adjunct professor of psychiatry and biobehavioral sciences at UCLA and longtime director of the UCLA Family Development Project, which fosters child development, died Sunday, June 17. He was 85.
Heinicke joined the UCLA psychiatry department in 1972 and never retired, working until shortly before his death. He enjoyed a long and distinguished career as a teacher, researcher and practicing psychoanalyst.
Born in Germany in 1926, Heinicke fled the Nazi regime with his stepfather and mother, eventually settling in Portland, Ore., in 1936. He won a number of scholarships to attend Reed College where he earned a bachelor's degree in 1944; Northwestern University, where he received his master's 1950; and Harvard University, where he earned a Ph.D., graduating summa cum laude.
Heinicke was then given a four-year Commonwealth Fund Fellowship to pursue child analytic training at the Anna Freud Clinic in London, where he worked with Anna Freud and British psychologist John Bowlby at Bowlby's Tavistock Psychiatric Research Unit. Heinicke was a pioneer in mother–infant attachment research was the first person without a medical background to complete full psychoanalytic adult clinical training as a research candidate.
A highly regarded psychotherapy teacher and supervisor, Heinicke was noted for his sensitivity to the therapeutic relationship and his commitment to teaching. After teaching at Stanford University, he joined the UCLA faculty in 1972 and advanced to the level of adjunct professor in the division of child psychiatry in 1977. Most recently, he was named a "distinguished" adjunct professor, a title reserved for senior faculty members who have achieved the highest levels of scholarship during their careers.
Heinicke was an active teacher, coordinating UCLA's clinical practicum for child psychiatry fellows for many years, co-directing the resident child psychotherapy clinic and serving as a clinical supervisor to several generations of trainees.
In 1987, Heinicke began a series of longitudinal studies of mothers and young children to determine the essential features of a preventive, relation-based therapeutic intervention to help foster child development. This became the foundation of the UCLA Family Development Project, which uses Heinicke's academic findings to break cycles of abuse and addiction and assist at-risk mothers in Los Angeles in becoming better parents.
Heinicke continued to direct the Family Development Project over the last 25 years, most recently collaborating with faculty at Olive View–UCLA Medical Center to further the project's dissemination. His family fondly remembers the scores of holiday cards they would receive each year from appreciative families.
Heinicke was the recipient of numerous awards, including the Lester Hofheimer Prize for best research in psychiatry from the American Psychiatric Association; the Departmental Teaching Award from the UCLA Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences; the Bowlby–Ainsworth Award from the New York Attachment Consortium; and the Dr. Parkes Volunteer Service Award from the Westside Family Health Clinic in Santa Monica.
In addition to helping others be great parents, Heinicke was himself a devoted and beloved father and grandfather and a loving husband. He is survived by his wife, Sally Heinicke; three sons, Andrew, David and Malcolm Heinicke; daughter-in-law Meg Heinicke; and grandchildren Charlotte Frances Heinicke, Alexander Christoph Heinicke and Margaret Serena Heinicke.
The family will announce plans for a memorial service at UCLA. They request that no flowers be sent and that any gifts in Heinicke's honor be directed to the UCLA Family Development Project, made payable to the Regents of the University of California, UCLA Family Development Project, ATTN: Vicki Ponce, Semel Institute, 760 Westwood Plaza, Room 58-242 Los Angeles, CA, 90095-1759.