Frank Ochberg | Fellow

Frank Ochberg | Fellow

Frank Ochberg, MD is a founding board member of the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies (ISTSS) and recipient of their highest honor, the Lifetime Achievement Award.

Dr. Ochberg edited the first text on treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and served on the committee that defined PTSD. The Lifetime Achievement Award is awarded to the individual who has made great lifetime contributions to the field of traumatic stress studies. Ochberg is an acclaimed psychiatrist, pioneer in trauma science, educator, diplomat, chair emeritus of the Dart Center Executive Committee, and founder of organizations, including ISTSS.

A graduate of Harvard University and Johns Hopkins Medical School, Ochberg has dedicated his life and work to the prevention of the psychological consequences of violence. Following the assassinations of Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King in the late ’60s, Ochberg, then a resident at the Department of Psychiatry at Stanford University, helped form a group of students and faculty to study dimensions of aggression. Shortly afterward, he co-edited the book, “Violence and the Struggle for Existence.” That was only the beginning—he directed his professional life into what would become a lifelong career of service, research, education, treatment, and international leadership in the interrelated fields of trauma, crisis and coping with violence and cruelty.

Ochberg has worked with the National Institute for Mental Health, the U.S. Department of Justice and the National Security Council. Though he was responsible for community mental health primarily in the United States, he was an advisor and instructor for numerous governments and international organizations.

While on a European assignment, Ochberg conducted one of the first systematic studies of political terrorism. It was from this research that he defined the term, “The Stockholm Syndrome,” used to describe the phenomenon of interpersonal seduction of victims, discussed in the book, “Victims of Terrorism,” that he co-edited with David Soskis.

Ochberg had several key roles within the American Psychiatric Association that helped shift policy toward a more informed view of traumatization. He advocated policy initiatives that helped overcome resistance to the PTSD diagnosis. He was part of the Vietnam War generation within APA who moved for open elections, advancing a feminist agenda, and recognizing minority rights. His philosophy of treatment (collegial, gentle, individualized) became the theme of a number of influential writings, including the first text on PTSD treatment, in his 1988 book, “Posttraumatic Therapy and Victims of Violence.”

Ochberg provided the start-up grants and helped to create and maintain Gift from Within, the only global nonprofit organization for people with PTSD.

He also has produced and funded public service announcements on PTSD awareness that aired in the USA to more than 4 million homes. In the past few years he coordinated and narrated When Helping Hurts: Sustaining Trauma Workers,a Gift from Within videotape that won several awards.

Recently Ochberg was named the second winner of the Academy of Traumatology Golden Award for achievement by a member. And at the 2003 annual meeting in Chicago, ISTSS announced the creation of a new annual award, the Frank Ochberg Award for Media and Trauma Study, in recognition of Ochberg’s role in creating and sustaining this crucial and rapidly evolving field.

Ochberg developed, with colleagues, the Committee for Community Awareness and Protection (responding to serial-killer threats). For this activity, he became the first physician to receive the Law Enforcement Medal of the Sons of the American Revolution. For more information log on to www.giftfromwithin.org.