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Daniel Offer, Scholar in Adolescent Psychiatry, Dies at 83

Services for emeritus professor of psychiatry will be held May 16

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May 15, 2013

EVANSTON, Ill. --- Daniel Offer, MD, professor emeritus in the department of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and editor emeritus, Journal of Youth and Adolescence, passed away in Seattle May 13 after a long illness.  He was 83.

Services will be held at 11 a.m. Thursday, May 16, at Chicago Jewish Funerals, 8851 Skokie Boulevard, Skokie, Illinois, followed by internment at Memorial Park Cemetery, 9900 Gross Point Road, Skokie, Illinois.

Dr. Offer was a major force in adolescent psychiatry, a beloved professor at Northwestern and a scholar whose books continue to remain classics in the field.

Despite living on dialysis for the previous seven years, he continued to travel internationally and enjoyed his retirement, his family and his scholarly interests. Not surprisingly, he co-authored the book “Dialysis Without Fear,” generously offering information and support to others, based on his own experience.

Dr. Offer completed his undergraduate degree at the University of Rochester and his medical education at the University of Chicago. He was an intern at the University of Illinois at Chicago and the Institute for Juvenile Research. 

He trained in psychiatry at Michael Reese Hospital and Medical Center in Chicago, at that time a nationally renowned department that had distinguished itself in research, training and patient care. He eventually rose to the position of chair of the department of psychiatry at Michael Reese Hospital and served as chair for 10 years.

He was elected president of both the American Association of Directors of Psychiatric Residency Training and the American Society for Adolescent Psychiatry -- a “founding father” of both organizations.

Dr. Offer attained the rank of professor at the University of Chicago and then joined the faculty of Northwestern University in 1990. He assumed emeritus status in 2008. He was a gifted and popular teacher, focusing on both normal adolescents and adolescent patients. For many years he generously chaired the Northwestern psychiatry department appointments, promotions and tenure committee.

Dr. Offer was a giant in adolescent psychiatry. His longitudinal study of normal high school boys -- one of the most successful ever in length of follow-up (more than three decades) and retention of subjects challenged the established wisdom that “adolescent turmoil” was a required developmental phase to reach a normal adulthood.  Dr. Offer identified a variety of patterns of adolescent adjustment that could lead to a successful outcome.  His 1969 book, “The Psychological World of the Teenager,” and the 1975 “From Teenage to Young Manhood: A Psychological Study” remain classics.

In all, he published 12 scientific books and monographs, 67 scientific articles, and three psychological tests and interpretive manuals. His paper, “The Altering of Reported Experiences,” published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry in June 2000, is required reading for those who wish to understand the vagaries of memory.

Contributions in Dr. Offer’s memory can be made to the American Associates of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, 240 Tamal Vista Boulevard, Suite 260, Corte Madera, CA 94925.