Dr. Luborsky, Psychiatry

Dr. Lester Luborsky, professor emeritus of psychology in psychiatry in the School of Medicine, passed away October 22, 2009, at the age of 89.

After spending time at the Menninger Foundation, Dr. Luborsky joined the Penn faculty in 1959. After 31 years at Penn, he retired in 1990 but continued to teach. Dr. Luborsky also held a secondary appointment in the department of psychology in the School of Arts and Sciences.

Dr. Luborsky was the primary investigator of the University of Pennsylvania unit of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) collaborative study of psychotherapy for cocaine abuse for comparison of cognitive therapy, supportive-expressive therapy, drug counseling, and group treatment. His major concentration in psychotherapy research was on the factors that predict its outcomes. Other major research areas included: perception, substance abuse, and psychosomatic research. Among his many research achievements were the development of a theory of psychological symptom formation, the development of the core conflictual relationship theme method and the development of supportive expressive psychoanalytic psychotherapy. He was a pioneer in emphasizing the need for research on psychoanalytic or psychodynamic psychotherapy and for developing important measures to assess some of these psychoanalytic concepts such as the therapeutic alliance and the transference.

Dr. Luborsky was the recipient of numerous awards including the Research Scientist Award of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) and NIDA, The Gold Medal Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Applications of Psychology by the American Psychological Association, The Award for Distinguished Psychoanalytic Theory and Research by the American Psychoanalytic Association, and the Excellence in Teaching Award from Penn’s department of psychiatry.

The author of over 400 publications, Dr. Luborsky served on numerous editorial and advisory boards.

Born in Philadelphia, Dr. Luborsky was a graduate of Penn State University. He earned his master’s and PhD degrees from Duke University in 1943 and 1945, respectively.

Dr. Luborsky is survived by his son, Peter; daughters, Ellen and Lise; four grandchildren; three great-grandchildren; and siblings, Melvin and Fred.

Contributions may be made to the Society for Psychotherapy Research, c/o Tracy D. Eells, Dept. of Psychiatry, University of Louisville, 401 E. Chestnut St., Suite 610, Louisville, KY 40202.