Bertram Paul Karon

April 29, 1930August 25, 2019

Dr. Bertram Karon, age 89, passed away on Sunday, August 25, in Lansing, Michigan, after a nearly 3 month hospital struggle. He was born April 29, 1930, in Taunton, Massachusetts to parents Harold and Cecelia Karon. He is survived by sons Jonathan Karon and his wife Kim, Brent Armstrong and his wife Jean, and Blake Armstrong and his wife Holly.

Dr. Karon received a Bachelors degree from Harvard University, and an MA and Ph.D in Psychology from Princeton University. He was Professor Emeritus in Psychology at Michigan State University, which faculty he had joined in 1962. Dr. Karon was a prolific writer and scholar, publishing over 100 peer reviewed articles, close to 50 book chapters, and two books. A recent edited book of his collected essays was published in 2018. He was an award-winning master teacher and a valued mentor to many in the field of clinical psychology. He was past President of the Division of Psychoanalysis of the American Psychological Association. Not content with a strictly academic career, Dr. Karon continued his psychoanalytic practice throughout his life. A talented clinician, he successfully restored to emotional health – through great skill, insight, and kindness – many patients suffering the most severe and disabling mental illnesses.

Although he suffered devastating injury in an automobile accident 12 years ago, Dr. Karon was able to return to live and work at his home in East Lansing, Michigan until his final illness, thanks in large part to the devotion of his wife, Mary, and to the kind, careful attention of his caregivers. He was preceded in death by his beloved wife, Mary Katherine Karon, and by his brother Edward Karon, who like Bert was also a psychologist.

Dr. Karon’s memorial service will be held at the University Club in Lansing, Michigan, of which he was an original and life-long member on Saturday, October 19 at 5:30 PM. His family would love to see you there! Please RSVP with the following link, as the University Club will be serving dinner:



  • Memorial Service

    Saturday, October 19, 2019


  • Please email to RSVP


Bertram Paul Karon

have a memory or condolence to add?

Theresa Bella

October 22, 2020

I took a psychology class from Dr. Karon in 1969. He opened my mind to a clearer view of the complexity of being human and healing the human mind. His stories were fascinating. When class was over, I stayed to eavesdrop on the conversations he had with other students. I was puzzled, intrigued, stimulated. I went on to get an MSW myself and never forgot his philosophy. "Psychotherapy of Schizophrenia" to this day is in my nightstand, $15.00 from the Strand bookstore in New York. A gift from Dr. Ruth Rosenthal. Thank you to Dr. Karon and all the people he influenced.

bruce Macleod

June 2, 2020

I was inspired by Mr. Karon's book "The Psychotherapy of Schizophrenia". I never met him but I wrote to him asking advice on developing the skills in treating schizophrenia and a very pleased to have a response. It was very kind of him.

Leslie Wolowitz

March 25, 2020

Bert Karon was my mentor from the interview for the PhD program and throughout the rest of my professional career - he was the Chair of my dissertation. Dr. Karon was an extraordinary man. His insight into psychodynamics was matched only by his passion and ethical integrity. He touched so many lives in so many ways - his undergraduate students, his graduate students, supervisees and patients. They simply don't make them like that any more. He belongs with the likes of RBG - he revolutionized the treatment of psychosis to those who would learn and listen. Mary and Bert were parental figures to many of us and they have left the world a better place.

Alan Gorman

March 1, 2020

Bertram Karon and his wife Mary were beacons of hope for those who suffered from debilitating mental illnesses. Theirs were lives of dedicated service and compassion. Rest peacefully.

Christina Peters

October 20, 2019

I happened to stumble into a class taught by Dr. Karon near the end of my undergrad time at MSU and it turned out to to have been one of the most important coincidences of my life. I shifted my career from English and Education and headed to graduate school at the University of Chicago, where I continued studying psychoanalysis. I have continued in that field as a clinician, teaching in graduate programs, and presenting at conferences -- all quite literally having germinated from taking his class. I feel lucky that my life has crossed paths with Dr. Karon, as I imagine many, many others have felt as well, and am grateful to have run into him a few years ago at a NY conference where I could thank him in person.

Linda Byers-Blaksmith

October 18, 2019

Bert was one of the most influential teacher/mentors of my career. Besides his kindness and inclusiveness, Bert will be remembered for his clinical brilliance and his unparalleled generosity in sharing what he knew with anyone willing to learn. I am very grateful to have known him.

Linda Byers-Blaksmith

Keith Lyon

October 15, 2019

Bert was a kind and warm senior professor when I arrived as a graduate student in the early 70’s. He made the analytic framing and the whole experience of becoming a psychologist seem reachable in those early years. As time went on, his wise counsel and good humor was vital to my (and many others) evolution as a psychologist and a person. We will all miss Bert’s presence in our world.

Ann Lyon

October 15, 2019

I remember Dr. Karon as a most insightful, encouraging, respectful and kind professor. I was merely a social work student, beginning my graduate experience at MSU in 1971. Due to a number of variables, I was fortunate to have had Dr. Karon as my most influential teacher. He shaped my clinical life and remained a strong influence in my and my husband’s life. To me he was the epitome of acceptance, kindness and thoughtful practice. His passing is a great loss to all of us who knew him. Ann Forster Lyon, MSW

Peter Murray

September 6, 2019

I took Dr. Karon's PSY280 (abnormal psychology), and that was my only exposure to him. After the first class, in my mind he was already a legend. He was very confident in his teaching, opinionated, and this class was easily one of my favorites of my student days at MSU. His passion for the subject was invigorating.

When the class was over, not only did I realize I had learned a lot about Psychology, I learned a lot about life as well, and I am a better person from his teaching.

Marty Cosgro

September 6, 2019

I met Bert in the fall of '82 while an undergrad at Michigan State and was enthralled with what he was presenting in his Psychology of Personality class. He would soon become a mentor, which lasted the next 37 years. His guidance and unwavering support made the transition to grad school and my early career years at the state hospital much more doable. I recall one conversation where I was complaining about a problematic supervisory relationship and he, in his uniquely Bert Karon way, advised me, "If they can't teach you what to do, let them teach you what not to do!" Bert's realistic optimism has helped countless students, colleagues and clients. A few years ago he agreed to let me edit his published papers (dating back to the 50's) into a collected volume. It was an honor to pull together his best work and make it available to the next generation of clinicians wanting to be helpful to those struggling with psychosis. While it's sad to lose such an important person in my life, I'll always have the warmth inside, knowing that I've been shaped by Bert's compassion, wisdom and support.


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