2014 James McKeen Cattell Fellow Award

Marsha M. Linehan

University of Washington

Marsha M. Linehan has spent her career working tirelessly to help those who feel that they are beyond help, including chronically suicidal patients and individuals with disorders involving extreme emotional instability. These patients are among the most difficult to effectively treat, but Linehan has met this challenge with characteristic passion and perseverance, changing the lives of millions of people battling suicidal urges and behaviors.

Over the last 25 years, she has developed the innovative dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), which she originally designed to treat suicidal behavior but has now expanded to other seemingly intractable conditions that have a significant emotional dysregulation component — most notably borderline personality disorder, for which DBT is currently considered the best available treatment.

Driven by a profound desire to do the most good for the most people, Linehan has founded planning groups that meet regularly to create a concerted and coherent strategy and research agenda for suicide treatment. Through these groups, her copious book and journal publications, and her foundation, The Linehan Institute, she continues to develop ways to refine and deliver effective treatments to as many people with severe mental illness as possible.

Linehan has emerged from her own past struggle with self-injury, which she courageously disclosed publicly in 2011, with a deep compassion for individuals facing a similar plight and a drive to teach other therapists how best to help them. Her unflagging dedication to bringing hope and recovery to the most despondent members of our society is an inspiration and model for all those who suffer from complex emotional dysregulation disorders, as well as those who strive to harness the powerful insights of psychological science in order to alleviate this suffering.