HomeHealthDr. Mitchell Rosenthal, Phoenix House Founder, Dies at 87

Dr. Mitchell Rosenthal, Phoenix House Founder, Dies at 87

Raised in Flushing, Queens, he graduated from Jamaica Excessive College; earned a bachelor’s diploma in 1956 from Lafayette School in Easton, Pa., the place he majored in biology and minored in psychology; and acquired a medical diploma from what’s now the State College of New York Downstate Medical Heart in Brooklyn in 1960.

Dr. Rosenthal’s first marriage, to Ellen Slosberg Nagy, led to divorce. He married Dr. Simms, a psychotherapist, in 1990. Along with her, he’s survived by three youngsters from his first marriage, David Rosenthal, Claudia Plepler and Alexis Proceller; and 7 grandchildren.

Dr. Rosenthal’s imaginative and prescient of remedy by way of what he referred to as “dynamic analytic psychiatry” in group remedy, reasonably than in conventional one-on-one psychotherapy, was impressed by the California-based drug remedy and self-help group Synanon. He discovered its methods by way of statement and participation, and he utilized them whereas serving in Navy hospitals on Staten Island and in Oakland, Calif., within the mid-Nineteen Sixties.

He was struck by the way in which veterans getting back from the Vietnam Struggle with drug and alcohol issues hardly ever acquired remedy earlier than being dishonorably discharged. After going by way of Synanon’s group-therapy boot camp, he mentioned, almost two-thirds had been capable of return to lively responsibility. (By the Nineteen Seventies, nonetheless, Synanon had turn into an insular, cultlike enterprise.)

Employed by Mayor John V. Lindsay’s administration, Dr. Rosenthal was finally elevated to deputy commissioner for rehabilitation at New York Metropolis’s Dependancy Companies Company. He established Phoenix Home whereas in that job, then spun it off as a non-public nonprofit.

“Individuals who come into Phoenix Home are basically strangers to themselves,” he instructed Existence journal in 2009. “We give them the help they should share their damaging secrets and techniques, to shed their guilt, to purge their rage, and to unlock their potential.”

“This,” he added, “is change for all times.”

Such change may very well be wrenching, he acknowledged, which he mentioned was one of many causes he had chosen to focus on psychiatry.

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