A native Californian, Al Solnit, M.D., moved to Yale University in 1948 after completing his pediatric training; at Yale, he completed his psychiatry training and became the first trainee in child psychiatry. His subsequent career included a professorship at Yale, chairmanship of the Child Study Center, and, upon his “retirement” from Yale, 8 years as commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services. As the third director of the Child Study Center, Dr. Solnit recruited the next generation of leaders in the field of child psychiatry. Trained in psychoanalysis, Dr. Solnit was a superb clinician and educator. His interest in child custody work led to a long collaboration with Anna Freud and Joseph Goldstein of Yale Law School and a series of publications related to child custody (1–3). Their work repeatedly emphasized the importance of a child-centered approach to custody as well as pediatric consultations. He repeatedly emphasized the importance of taking the child’s needs and sense of time into account. Their first book (1) has been cited in more than 1,000 appeals.
During his formal retirement, Dr. Solnit remained an active and vigorous clinician, seeing two patients at his office at the university before his trip to Hartford and his return to New Haven at the end of the day to see more patients and supervise residents and fellows. A consummate mentor, Dr. Solnit was a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences and served as president each of the following: the American Psychoanalytic Association, the International Association for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Allied Professions, the Association for Child Psychoanalysis, and the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.