"He created options for treatment where there were almost none..."

[This commemoration of Bruce Hauptman is taken from Special Times, Winter 2018, Volume 1, published by the Community Therapeutic Day School, 187 Spring Street, Lexington, Massachusetts. It is re-published with the permission of Nancy Fuller, Executive Director of the Community Day Therapeutic School, and Dr. Hauptman's wife. The title quote and quote immediately above are taken from appreciations by current and former children, staff, parents and siblings printed in the Special Times].

A memorial service will be held at the Community Therapeutic Day School barn on April 8th 2-3:30 pm


Bruce Hauptman MD, died peacefully and suddenly Saturday November 11, 2017, at the age of 79 with his wife Nancy Fuller by his side. He was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1938, the son of Dr. Hyman and Toba Hauptman. His family was deeply committed to the pursuit of understanding in medicine and child development. Bruce lived a wonderful life. He graduated Union College in 1959 and went on to pursue a medical career in psychiatry at New York Medical College. He completed his internship at Michael Reese Hospital and Medical Center, Chicago and a Psychiatry residency at Hillside Hospital, New York. He was a Lt. Commander in the US Navy during the Vietnam War from 1967-1969. “I ran a recruit evaluation unit as my primary responsibility and it sensitized me to the complexity of diagnosis as well as prognosis needing to make quick decisions regarding the disposition of new recruits who often exhibited emotional issues.“


Bruce spent two significant years at Tavistock in London from 1968-1970 studying with renowned teachers in the field of psychiatry, John Bowlby, Anna Freud, Arthur Hyatt-Williams, Murray Parkes and in particular Donald Winnicott, MD.


It was Winnicott whose teachings have profoundly influenced Bruce’s entire career.

“I found myself in an educational environment that exceeded my expectations. Winnicott provided a constant stream of evocative questions, ideas, insights and reflections. I found myself eagerly awaiting each of the Tuesday evening meetings in Donald Winnicott’s livingroom; I would not allow anything to get in the way of attending them. The underlying theme of the meetings was a presentation of children from a book he was preparing: Therapeutic Consultations in Child Psychiatry (1971). Each week brought discussions and what mattered was that one felt oneself part of an ongoing process-an exploration seeking knowledge, and attempts to understand human nature. Winnicott’s openness, his lively mind, and dedication to his work was constantly refreshing. During my stay in London I was fortunate to be able to visit several Winnicottian influenced educational establishments. Visiting these programs had a profound impact on me: a direct and vital application of Winnicott’s work to educational/therapeutic environments. The idea that the intervention of a group of people properly trained, educated and supported who were not the child’s parents or actual parent substitutes but were capable of taking on the essentials of a parental role could provide a pattern of consistent loving care, understanding, management, control, education and therapy. The therapeutic process was able to unfold that was efficacious in a way that other forms of treatment were not- that is, realization of therapy through a child’s living and specialized school environment, medical and special education provisions, supporting the parents and integrating all aspects of intervention, hence creating a holding environment, a heavily therapeutic one, but a holding environment nevertheless.“


Bruce Hauptman cared deeply about the process of helping children and families to heal. He was an exceptional diagnostician.


He was a training fellow in Child Psychiatry at the Massachusetts Mental Health Center and Boston Children’s Hospital from 1970-1971. He then became an instructor in Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and the Massachusetts Mental Health Center from 1971-1987.


In 1974, recognizing the paucity of therapeutic services for young children, he founded, with his wife Nancy Fuller, and with a group of dedicated clinicians and educators, a school program: The Community Therapeutic Day School (CTDS), originally located in Boston with funding through the National Institute for Mental Health and under the auspices of Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School and the Mass Mental Health Center. CTDS moved to Lexington in 1986.


CTDS is a therapeutic organization for children with neurologic and psychiatric disabilities that today is a thriving multi-disciplinary clinical and educational program serving over 200 children and families a year.


“At CTDS many of Winnicott’s papers were used to teach staff a way of conceptualizing the child’s condition and helping a family deal with their own distress. Winnicott’s language gives parents as well as clinicians powerful tools to understand their children and to become partners in their child’s treatment and education. Winnicott maintained humility in the face of difficulties. Winnicott’s writings and principles are sustained with a philosophic underpinning acknowledging the school as a holding environment.”


“Winnicott’s openness, encouraging others to think, his creativity and his writings, which suggest, but do not dictate ways of conceptualizing and working with difficult life problems have been “metabolized” by me and by those with whom I work. They provide a way of thinking about human nature, without dictating its boundaries, but by establishing ways to work with children and their families that offers hope.”


Bruce infused his clinical work embedded by the teachings of Winnicott.


He also had an active private practice in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Bruce continued to love his work and work with love. Bruce was always on a deep quest for understanding. He pursued many interests spanning science, history, medicine, literature and the arts. He brought all he sought to his work with others to alleviate their suffering and to help them move ahead in their lives. Bruce showed humility and deep compassion to others, he opened doors so that others would grow. He trusted the process of curiosity, questioning and wonder.


Quotes in text above from:

Donald Winnicott and John Bowlby, Personal and Professional Perspectives: by Judith Isroff, with contributions from Christopher Reeves and Bruce Hauptman (Karmac Books, 2005)

brucehauptman nancyfulerBruce Hauptman and Nancy Fuller