Robert N. Butler, MD

Visionary of Healthy Aging

W. Andrew Achenbaum

Columbia University Press

Robert N. Butler, MD

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Pub Date: August 2013

ISBN: 9780231164429

288 Pages

Format: Hardcover

List Price: $60.00£47.00

Pub Date: August 2013

ISBN: 9780231535328

288 Pages

Format: E-book

List Price: $59.99£47.00

Robert N. Butler, MD

Visionary of Healthy Aging

W. Andrew Achenbaum

Columbia University Press

Robert Neil Butler (1927–2010) was a scholar, psychiatrist, and Pulitzer Prize–winning author who revolutionized the way the world thinks about aging and the elderly. One of the first psychiatrists to engage with older men and women outside of institutional settings, Butler coined the term "ageism" to draw attention to discrimination against older adults and spent a lifetime working to improve their status, medical treatment, and care.

Early in his career, Butler seized on the positive features of late-life development—aspects he documented in his pathbreaking research on "healthy aging" at the National Institutes of Health and in private practice. He set the nation's age-based health care agenda and research priorities as founding director of the National Institute on Aging and by creating the first interprofessional, interdisciplinary department of geriatrics at New York City's Mount Sinai Hospital. In the final two decades of his career, Butler created a global alliance of scientists, educators, practitioners, politicians, journalists, and advocates through the International Longevity Center.

A scholar who knew Butler personally and professionally, W. Andrew Achenbaum follows this pioneer's significant contributions to the concept of healthy aging and the notion that aging is not synonymous with physical and mental decline. Emphasizing the progressive aspects of Butler's approach and insight, Achenbaum affirms the ongoing relevance of his work to gerontology, geriatrics, medicine, social work, and related fields.
This is not only a personal biography of an iconic figure in the field of aging but also a biography of the discipline of gerontology. The stories fill in the blanks for us and help make sense of our own professional lives as we see more fully the role Robert N. Butler played in the development of the field. Dr. Butler was our hero, and he gave us courage. His story needs to be shared. Leah Rogne, Minnesota State University
W. Andrew Achenbaum has crafted a biographical masterpiece about a significant contributor to the ideas and social ideals of the twentieth century. He reconstructs the life and contributions of Robert N. Butler—psychiatrist, foremost authority on aging, Pulitzer Prize winner, and activist—and in the process illuminates the practices, debates, and concerns surrounding aging in America and around the world. This book about a remarkable visionary is a must-read, reaffirming Achenbaum's position as a leading scholar and historian of aging in America. Scott A. Bass, American University
Considering the enormous impact Robert Neil Butler had on gerontology, I am thrilled that W. Andrew Achenbaum has taken on the very fitting and formidable task of depicting and commemorating Butler's life work. Butler's career was marked by a fundamental optimism toward the aged which brought talent, rigor, and legitimacy to the field of gerontology. I look forward to the insights I am certain to gain from better understanding the life of this great pioneer. Ken Dychtwald, President and CEO, Age Wave
This is the biography of Robert Butler we've been waiting for. For those who were privileged to know him, this book brings him vividly to life. For those who recognize his influence, it will illuminate his legacy. For all who expect to grow old, it will bring a lasting message of hope. Harry R. Moody, Director of Academic Affairs, AARP
This is a book that should be on the bookshelf of every gerontologist today. Gerontologist
Achenbaum provides much more than a biography of Butler in this beautifully crafted, historically grounded account… veteran gerontologists will treasure this exceptionally fine book… younger generations of gerontologists will benefit from this historically and conceptually grounded account of Butler. Journal of Ageing and Society
Preface
Acknowledgments
1. Life Review
2. The Formative Years
3. A Professional Apprentice
4. Forging Washington Connections
5. Butler at the National Institute of Aging
6. Expanding the Scope of Geriatrics
7. Recasting the New Gerontology Through the International Longevity Center
8. America's Aging Visionary
Epilogue
Appendix: Prologue or Introduction to Life Review
References
Index

Read the preface:

About the Author

W. Andrew Achenbaum is professor of social work and history at the Graduate School of Social Work, University of Houston, where he holds the Gerson and Sabina David Professorship in Global Aging. He is also a fellow at the Institute for Spirituality and Health and the John P. McGovern M.D. Center for Health, Humanities, and the Human Spirit at the University of Texas Medical Center. His books include Social Security: Visions and Revisions; Crossing Frontiers: Gerontology Emerges as a Science; and Older Americans, Vital Communities: Toward a Bold Vision of Societal Aging.