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IRVING PINSLEY

Irving Pinsley was Chief Psychiatrist at Kings Park State (psychiatric) Hospital, serving on its staff and residing there from 1948 to 1971.
 
Dr. Pinsley specialized in the treatment of the most severely mentally ill, including violent criminals.  He was internationally known for his early work in electric shock therapy.  His studies, which served as the basis for U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval of pharmacoconvulsive medication, were published in such journals as American Journal of Psychiatry and Journal of Neuropsychiatry.  He also pioneered and implemented the concept that a mental patient needs as normal a living environment as possible, as a basic part of psychiatric treatment. 
 
"Because part of his treatment was having patients engage in normal social and work activities in normal environments far from the hospital," said his grandson, Adam Levin, "he used to drive them in his car to my parentsí house in Westbury, Long Island.  Both he and his patients would spend the day doing landscape work and fraternizing in our home, while my mother cooked and served them meals.  These patients had been committed to the hospital as violent criminals and, in some cases, had committed capital offenses.  That was his area of specialty."

 
Dr. Pinsley periodically lectured to health organizations about community mental health and was frequently covered in The Journal of Hospital and Community Psychiatry.  His tenure at Kings Park coincided with the U.S.'s post-war treatment of the institutionalized mentally ill, portrayed in the films "The Snake Pit" and "Spellbound".
 
Previously in private practice as a general practitioner in Freeport, where he resided with his family prior to the Second World War, Dr. Pinsley was president of Congregation B'nai Israel of Freeport, a member of Freeport's Unity Club, and active in the Freeport chapter of the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith.  He served as a captain in the U.S. Air Force's Medical Corps during World War Two.
 
Born on March 15, 1902 in czarist Russia, he immigrated to New York City with his family at the age of two and earned his way through college (Fordham University) and medical school (George Washington University) by playing the violin in orchestras for silent movie theaters.  He later performed in the Kings Park String Quartet.
 

Dr. Pinsley died of cancer at his home in New York City on February 1, 1973 at age 70.  A public memorial service was held at Kings Park State Hospital, along with a memorial for family and friends in New York City.  He was predeceased by his two daughters (Judith Pinsley and Rhoda Pinsley Levin) the same month by several years.



The Long Island Press, "Dr. Irving Pinsley dies; pioneer in psychiatry", February 2, 1973

Private services were held today for Dr. Irving Pinsley, who had lived at Kings Park State Hospital while an administrative staff member there since 1948.

Dr. Pinsley died earlier yesterday.  He was 70 and had retired a year ago, moving to Manhattan.

He belonged to the American Psychiatric Association and was internationally known for his work in electric shock treatment at the hospital.

Dr. Pinsley pioneered and implemented the concept that a mental patient needs as normal a living environment as possible, as a basic part of psychiatric treatment.

He was brought to the United States from his native Russia by his parents when he was 2, settling in Manhattan.  He graduated from Fordham University with a B.S. degree and took his M.D. degree in 1926 from George Washington University in Washington, D.C.

After interning at Rockaway Beach Hospital and residency at Jewish Maternity Hospital in Manhattan and at the old Riverside Hospital for Contagious Diseases, Dr. Pinsley moved to Freeport in 1931, opening a general practice.

He joined the Air Force Medical Corps in 1942.  Following his discharge in the rank of captain, he took psychiatric training at Kings Park State Hospital and at New York State Psychiatric Institute in Manhattan, completing it in 1951.

He was an instructor at New York Medical Hospital in Manhattan in 1951.

While in private practice in Freeport, Dr. Pinsley was president of Congregation B'nai Israel of Freeport and belonged to the Nassau County Medical Society.  He was active in the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith and was a member of the Unity Club in Freeport.

His widow, the former Rose Daniels, a pediatric psychiatric social worker, was in charge of the children's unit at Kings Park State Hospital from 1947 to 1971.


Newsday
, "Irving Pinsley", February 2, 1973


New York -- Private services were held yesterday for Dr. Irving Pinsley, 70, who until his retirement a year ago was chief of psychiatric service at Kings Park State Hospital.  He died yesterday at his home, 65 East 76th St., Manhattan.

Dr. Pinsley was a general practitioner in Freeport for 11 years before joining the Air Force medical corps during World War II.  After the war, he studied psychiatry at Kings Park and the New York Psychiatric Institute in Manhattan.  He joined the Kings Park staff in 1948, and practiced and lived there.

In Freeport, he had been president of Congregation B'nai Israel and the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith.  His daughter, Mrs. Rhoda Levin, a pianist, music teacher and member of the board of the Pro Arte Symphony Orchestra afilliated with Hofstra University, died in 1971.  He leaves his wife, the former Rose Daniels, a brother, Arthur, of Jamaica, Queens; and a grandson [Adam Levin].
 
 
ROSE DANIELS PINSLEY

Rose Daniels Pinsley, a supervising pediatric psychiatric social worker and arts activist afilliated for many years with the New York State Office of Mental Health's Kings Park Psychiatric Center and, later, the New York City Ballet, died in her sleep on January 4, 2000, in her home at East Hill Woods in Southbury, Connecticut.  She was 89 years old.

The wife of the late Dr. Irving Pinsley, an internationally known psychiatrist, Ms. Pinsley served as a social worker for the American Red Cross and U.S. Army in Europe during the Second World War, where she helped resettle displaced persons in Germany after the war, and headed the Children's Division at Kings Park Psychiatric Center in Long Island from 1947 until her retirement in 1971.  She was a longtime Charter Member of the National Association of Social Workers and a member of the American Association of Psychiatric Social Workers.

"She gave her staff considerable room to make use of their individual interests and skills, which was a benefit to the patients," said her friend and former employee at Kings Park, Jeanne Feingold of Setauket, New York.  "She was supportive in seeing the members of the family together with the patient, before this became more generally accepted practice."

Her commitment to dance and art led Ms. Pinsley to work closely with the New York City Ballet from 1971 to 1991, where she served on critical fundraising benefits and events, along with overseeing volunteer operations for most of those years.  Her work with its Special Events division and its major donors was "instrumental in raising a great deal of money," said Joan Quantrano, Director of the Ballet's Volunteer and Rehearsal Services.  "More than that, however, was her impishness and infectious enthusiasm and the way she used these qualities to lead the many volunteers she directed..."

"Danny" or "Danny Rose", as she was known by her many friends, "was a mentor to aspiring social workers, artists and dancers, and a compassionate and caring friend," said her friend, Audrey Schneider of West Hempstead, New York.  "She also provided solicitous and loving care to her stepdaughters and, later, her husband during their illnesses with cancer."

The sister of the late Aaron Daniels and Dorothy Daniels Angelus, Ms. Pinsley was born on August 10, 1910 to Jewish-Russian immigrants and raised in Ogdensberg, then a rural seaport on the St. Lawrence River in upstate New York.  She went on to receive a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Syracuse University in 1931 and a Masters Degree from Columbia University School of Social Work in 1948.

Ms. Pinsley met her husband, Irving Pinsley, as a colleague at Kings Park Psychiatric Center.  A former wartime captain-physician for the U.S. Air Force, Dr. Pinsley was Chief Psychiatrist at Kings Park for many years, where he specialized in rehabilitating the criminally ill, helped pioneer occupational therapy, and was internationally known for his work in electric shock treatment.  He died in 1973.

"Danny became our family's matriarch, an anchor and lifeline during the family's ordeals with cancer, a confidant and friend when I needed one, a conversationalist about everything but herself, brutally honest, and a true cosmopolitan with diverse cultural tastes," said her step-grandson, Adam R. Levin of New York City.

Ms. Pinsley's stepdaughters, Judith Pinsley and Rhoda Pinsley Levin, predeceased her.  She is survived by her nephew, Leslie Daniels, a retired corporate executive in West Hartford, Connecticut, and her step-grandson Adam Levin.

 
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