Henry Eisner '51
Deceased July 4, 2009
Henry Eisner, age 80, formerly of Bala Cynwyd, a retired psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, passed away on Saturday, July 4, 2009, at his home in Philadelphia from complications relating to Parkinson's Disease.
Born in Newark, New Jersey, Dr. Eisner was a graduate of Deerfield Academy (1947), Amherst College (1951), and of the University of Pennsylvania Medical School ( 1955). He married Eleanor Wiberg in 1958 and, after Dr. Eisner's induction into the United States Army, Dr. and Mrs. Eisner moved to Germany, where then-Captain Eisner served as Assistant Chief of Pediatrics at the U.S. Army Hospital, Landstuhl, Germany.
When Henry and Ellie returned to the United States in 1960, Dr. Eisner began training as a psychoanalyst. He maintained a private practice in Philadelphia until 1999. He was a member of the faculty and supervising analyst in the Institute of the Philadelphia Association for Psychoanalysis (Child and Adolescent Division), an associate professor of Pediatrics and Child Psychiatry with Allegheny University Health Systems, Hahnemann Division, and a senior attending physician at Belmont Center for Comprehensive Care in Philadelphia. Dr. Eisner authored numerous articles in medical journals, including "The Predisposition to Croup," published in the American Journal of the Medical Sciences, Vol. 237, No. 1, January, 1959, which identifies psychological factors that contribute to the incidence of croup in certain patients, and initiated Dr. Eisner's interest in psychosomatic disorders and ultimately his career in psychiatry. He was an active member of the American Psychoanalytic Association for many years.
He was deeply interested in the writings of James Joyce and lectured on psychological issues expressed in Joyce's fiction. In his last years he worked to identify and describe psychiatric issues that contribute to symptoms in Parkinson's disease. At Amherst College, Henry lettered in soccer and was a member of Alpha Delta Phi fraternity. His father, Mortimer, preceded Henry as a graduate of Amherst College. He is survived by his children Benjamin (Lois Murphy) and Elizabeth (Mark Lloyd). He also leaves behind 4 grandchildren, Emily, Lily, Robert and Ingrid, as well as a sister, Gretchen Eisner Rachlin. His wife of 48 years, Eleanor Eisner predeceased him in 2007, and his sister, Joan Eisner Garb, in February of this year.
-On behalf of the Class of 1951-
Dr. Henry Eisner died July 4 at home in Philadelphia from complications of Parkinson’s disease.
In our 50th year Reunion Book, Henry wrote his ‘semi-obituary’:
“Dr. Eisner has suffered from Parkinson’s disease since 1991. Because of the availability of competent medication, he was able to work until 1999, for which he was exceedingly grateful. His practice was in child, adolescent and adult psychiatry and psychoanalysis. His interests were in psychology and its effect on the physical aspect of disease. He was fascinated by the subject of human development and the origin of psychopathology and the emotional aspects of life and disease.
“He loved reading and memorizing poetry. Poetry had become for him a source of solace, as well as wisdom, and served for him what religion serves for others.”
He sent this semi-obituary to classmate Bill Maloney, believing he would die before our 50th Reunion.
He did not attend that Reunion, but anticipation of his death was premature. Henry underwent two neurosurgical procedures: deep brain stimulation. A physician friend accompanied Henry through this ordeal. In the recovery room, he was astonished to find Henry awake, alert and reading from Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations.
The surgery was successful; Henry did attend a later Reunion and remained intellectually and emotionally engaged until the last six months of life.
Henry was predeceased by his wife, Eleanor, with whom he was “crazy in love” for their 48 years of marriage. He is survived by a son, Ben; a daughter, Liz; four grandchildren; and a sister.
Henry’s semi-obituary includes these lines from Frost—so appropriate!
“The heart is aching to seek, but the feet question ‘Whiter’
Ah, when to the heart of man
Was it ever less than a treason
To go with the direct of things
To yield with a grace of reason
And bow and accept the end of a love or season”
—Jeff Hartzell ’51