John F. Clarkin, Ph.D., Appointed Director of the Personality Disorders Institute (PDI)

John F. Clarkin, Ph.D., has been appointed Director of the Personality Disorders Institute (PDI). This appointment has been occasioned by the transition of Dr. Otto Kernberg, founding Director of the PDI to emeritus professor. The appointment of Dr. Clarkin, a national leader in the phenomenology and treatment of personality disorders, as the Director will ensure continuity in the mission and productivity of the PDI.

Dr. Clarkin was recruited to Department of Psychiatry in 1970 following graduate training at Fordham University and internship and post-doctoral training at the New York State Psychiatric Institute-Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center. He served as Director of the Payne Whitney Outpatient department from 1972 to 1978 and was appointed Director of Psychology at what was then called NewYork-Presbyterian’s Westchester Division in 1980. Dr. Clarkin’s research activities have focused on the phenomenology of personality disorders, and the treatment of patients with borderline personality disorder and bipolar disorder. He is the author of numerous articles and books on psychopathology, differential treatment planning, psychotherapy, and the personality disorders. He is past president of the international Society for Psychotherapy Research.

During Dr. Kernberg’s tenure and leadership as Medical Director of the Westchester Division (1985-1995), the hospital achieved the reputation as a center of excellence for the treatment of severe personality pathology and attracted faculty and trainees interested in the understanding and treatment of these pathologies. As Director of Psychology, psychology trainees received the education and training that prepared them to advance to prominent academic and clinical careers in this specialty area.

The Personality Disorders Institute was established in 1995, with Dr. Kernberg as the Director and Dr. Clarkin as the Co-Director. In its 27-year history the PDI has pursued the mission of furthering the understanding and treatment of personality pathology. The PDI is characterized by its contributions to training in the department and its academic and research productivity. Seminars for residents and psychology trainees in personality pathology and treatment have been established along with supervision of individual treatment cases. Over its history, the PDI has conducted research funded by the NIMH and relevant foundations. A psychodynamic psychotherapy for borderline personality disorder called transference-focused psychotherapy (TFP) has been articulated in manualized form and investigated in a treatment development study and two randomized clinical trials. The trials established TFP as effective in treating both the symptoms of borderline personality and in improving psychological functioning in the areas of reflective functioning and attachment.

Membership in the PDI has been marked by its stability over time including the leadership of Drs. Kernberg and Clarkin along with Drs. Frank Yeomans, Diana Diamond, Eve Caligor, Alan Weiner, Jill Delaney, Barry Stern, Nicole Cain, and Eric Fertuck. There is a long-standing relationship with child and adolescent researchers Drs. Lina Normandin and Karin Ensink at Laval University (Canada). Through the establishment of the International Society for Transference Focused Psychotherapy (ISTFP), the training and utilization of TFP for severe personality disorders has been extended throughout North and South America, Europe, Australia, and Asia. Dr. Frank Yeomans is the current president of the international organization.

As an exceptional clinician, researcher, and mentor, it is hard to imagine someone better to entrust with leading Personality Disorders Institute (PDI).  

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