The Borderline Personality Disorder community suffered a painful loss this week.
Seth Axelrod, PhD, Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Director of Dialectical Behavior Therapy Services at the Yale School of Medicine passed away after a seven year battle with cancer.
A pioneer in the movement to raise awareness of BPD, Seth was gracious, kind, funny and deeply motivated to improving the lives of people with BPD. He was equally devoted to enhancing the skills of his students and to educating mental health professionals about Borderline Personality Disorder.
Seth had a deeply held belief that people with BPD can and do achieve a life worth living. Although he did not have BPD, Seth created a life as a therapist, researcher and teacher that was notably worthy to the thousands of people with whom he interacted.
He lived seven years of that life battling his cancer diagnosis. Despite the limits the disease placed on him, Seth kept moving forward by living in accordance with many of the guiding principles of Dialectical Behavior Therapy.
Although he will be missed, Seth will be long remembered for his many contributions.
Here’s what his colleagues wrote about him in announcing his death:
Throughout his tenure at Yale, Seth has been a passionate and devoted leader in the care of individuals with severe personality disorders and in the application of Dialectical Behavioral Therapy. He has been a tireless teacher and advocate of Dialectical Behavioral Therapy training and has written and lectured extensively in adaptations of DBT in different settings and populations.
For nearly two decades, Seth has led the clinical care, program development and supervision and training of clinicians through the Yale New Haven Hospital Dialectical Behavioral Therapy Service. In doing so, he built an outstanding nationally recognized clinical service and DBT training program, and transformed the lives of countless patients and students in this role.
He also served as a founder and Co-Chair of the internationally regarded Yale annual conference on Borderline Personality Disorder in partnership with the National Education Alliance for BPD since 2006 with his dear friend and colleague, the late Dr. Perry Hoffman.
This video of Seth introducing one of those Yale-NEABPD collaborative conferences captures Seth’s personality, his spirit and his compassion for people impacted by BPD and other serious mental health conditions.
Please keep Seth in your thoughts as you navigate your own journey through life.