Robert Neil Butler (1927--2010) was a scholar, psychiatrist, and
Pulitzer Prize--winning author who revolutionized the way the world
thinks about aging and the elderly. One of the first psychiatrists
to engage with older men and women outside of institutional
settings, Butler coined the term "ageism" to draw attention to
discrimination against older adults and spent a lifetime working to
improve their status, medical treatment, and care.
Early in his career, Butler seized on the positive features of
late-life development -- aspects he documented in his pathbreaking
research on "healthy aging" at the National Institutes of Health
and in private practice. He set the nation's age-based health care
agenda and research priorities as founding director of the National
Institute on Aging and by creating the first interprofessional,
interdisciplinary department of geriatrics at New York City's Mount
Sinai Hospital. In the final two decades of his career, Butler
created a global alliance of scientists, educators, practitioners,
politicians, journalists, and advocates through the International
A scholar who knew Butler personally and professionally, W.
Andrew Achenbaum follows this pioneer's significant contributions
to the concept of healthy aging and the notion that aging is not
synonymous with physical and mental decline. Emphasizing the
progressive aspects of Butler's approach and insight, Achenbaum
affirms the ongoing relevance of his work to gerontology,
geriatrics, medicine, social work, and related fields.
Subjects: Sociology, History, Psychology, Health Sciences
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