Bertram Schaffner

Schaffner headshot
Born and raised in Erie, Pennsylvania, Bertram H. Schaffner (1912-2010) began his university studies at Harvard at age 15, transferred to the Honors Program at Swarthmore College, graduating in 1932 and completed his medical education at Johns Hopkins in 1937. Following a residency at New York’s Mount Sinai Hospital and further training at Bellevue Hospital and the New York State Psychiatric Hospital, Schaffner served with the US Army, evaluating the mental fitness of draftees and then with the 10th Armored Division as a neuropsychiatrist (seeing active combat during the Battle of the Bulge). At war’s end, he served at the Nuremberg trials and then with the American Military Government on the denazification process, which lead to the publication of his book Father Land in 1948.

Back in New York City, Schaffner further trained at the William Alanson White Institute with which he remained associated for most of his career as a psychiatrist, teacher and adviser. He promoted mental health initiatives in the Caribbean, serving on the Expert Committee for Mental Health of the United Nations, advising the British, French and Dutch island governments in the West Indies on their mental health programs.

In his 60s Schaffner revealed that he was gay. In his psychiatric practice, he was a leader in the study of the problems of homosexual medical practitioners; he was one of the first doctors to treat AIDS patients, advocating for more humane treatment for them; from the 1980s on, he dedicated much of his professional efforts to helping AIDS patients and their health care providers. In 2001, the
Journal of Gay and Lesbian Psychotherapy recognized him as a leader who has made a major impact on the treatment of homosexuals and the work of gay therapists.

Schaffner was a collector of Indian art, an interest spurred by his participation in a 1966 Brooklyn Museum trip to India, where he often returned. Schaffner was a major donor to the Brooklyn Museum and served on its Collections Committee.

Click on the cover for details about the eBook:

Father Land eBook cover