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Susan Nolen-Hoeksema ’82, Yale psych professor, 1959-2013

Susan Nolen-Hoeksema ’82, a Yale psychology professor who focused on women’s mental health, died unexpectedly last week after heart surgery.

A nationally recognized researcher who also wrote mass-market self-help books (such as Women Who Think Too Much: How to Break Free of Overthinking and Reclaim Your Life), Nolen-Hoeksema chaired the psychology department and led the Depression and Cognition Program. Her work included “groundbreaking research on rumination, the tendency to respond to distress by focusing on the causes and consequences of problems without active problem-solving,” as well as “innovative work on gender differences in depression,” according to an official Yale obituary.  

But she valued equally the work of her colleagues and students. In 2007, Nolen-Hoeksema won a mentoring prize; students told the Yale Daily News that she brought baked goods to lab meetings, happily joined in the grunt work, and watched her son’s soccer tournament live-streamed on her laptop at a convention where she was a keynote speaker.

“For graduate students used to working all the time,” one told the Daily News, “she was a great role model, reminding us that life outside of psychology and academia is important.”

The News reports that Nolen-Hoeksema developed a blood infection that led to a need for heart surgery. She died January 2 at Yale-New Haven Hospital. Survivors include her husband, Richard Nolen-Hoeksema ’83 PhD, whom she met and married at Yale, and their son, Michael.

Filed under Susan Nolen-Hoeksema, psychology
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