The New York Times On The Web

 
January 21, 2004

Harriet B. Braiker, Psychologist Who Wrote on Identity, Dies at 55

By JEREMY PEARCE

Dr. Harriet B. Braiker, a clinical psychologist and self-help author whose books touched on identity, resolving stress and the grief occasioned by the World Trade Center attacks, died on Jan. 10 at Huntington Memorial Hospital in Pasadena, Calif. She was 55.

The cause was respiratory failure after pneumonia, said her husband, Steven Fink.

One of her books, "The Type E Woman," published in 1986, described the stresses of balancing a career and family. Dr. Braiker's literary agent, Alice Martel, said the "E" represented the woman who tried to be "everything to everybody." The book was a response to research into the Type A personality so often associated with hard-driving men. It was Dr. Braiker's favorite through the years, Mr. Fink said.

In another book, "The Disease to Please," she described a destructive propensity that drives people, usually women, to serve others to the detriment of their own well-being.

In the introduction to "The September 11 Syndrome," published four months after the 2001 attacks, she described the premise of the book as helping readers turn "our collective emotional adversity" into their own psychological victories. The book prescribed steps to control feelings of helplessness and anxiety awakened by terrorism.

Dr. Kay Redfield Jamison, a professor of psychiatry at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine who met Dr. Braiker in graduate school, said she "brought an extremely strong theoretical background to popular writing."

"Her books took problems that were common and subliminal and put them out in the open," Dr. Jamison said.

Harriet Beryl Braiker was born in Los Angeles. She graduated summa cum laude from the University of California, Los Angeles, where she was elected to Phi Beta Kappa and won a National Science Foundation research scholarship. In 1975, she received a doctorate in clinical and social psychology from U.C.L.A.

Before establishing a private practice in 1980, Dr. Braiker worked at the RAND Corporation, analyzing health policies for the federal government. She later became a contributing editor for Working Woman and a columnist for Lear's magazine. She also appeared on television and radio talk shows and was an expert witness in legal cases on sexual harassment.

Although her earliest works examined alcoholism, depression and destructive relationships, her most recent book, "Who's Pulling Your Strings?" (2003), was a study of manipulation.

In addition to her husband, surviving are their daughter, Amanda Fink, also of Pasadena; a stepson, Stuart, of New York; and a brother, Dr. Barry Braiker of Beverly Hills, Calif.

 

Copyright 2004  The New York Times Company