Obituary for Professor Hinderk Meiners Emrich, MD PhD
03 December 2018 (eFirst)
On 16 September 2018 Professor Hinderk Meiners Emrich, MD PhD, Emeritus Director of the Department of Psychiatry, Social Psychiatry and Psychotherapy of Hannover Medical School (MHH), passed away at the age of 75 years after a long illness.
Thereby, we are losing an eminent researcher, medical doctor and academic teacher.
Hinderk Emrich was born in 1943 to Helene Emrich and the Germanist Professor Wilhelm Emrich in Witzenhausen near Kassel, Germany. In 1962 he started studying medicine at the Free University (FU) Berlin. Shortly after, he got involved in his first research project at the Physiological Institute of FU. He was awarded a scholarship by The German Academic Scholarship Foundation. At the age of 25, he graduated with a German and an American exam and obtained his medical doctorate from the University of Bern, Switzerland. In 1970 he received the full license to practice medicine and only 2 years later he obtained the “venia legendi” in “Molecular Neurobiology” at the (TU) Berlin.
Hinderk Emrich started his specialist training at the District Hospital Munich-Haar and continued his training in psychiatry and neurology at the Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry in Munich. After recognition as a specialist in 1978, he was appointed professor at the Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich. During his time in Munich at the Max Planck Institute, i.a. as a Heisenberg Fellow of the German Research Foundation (DFG), Hinderk Emrich investigated the psychopharmacological effect of anticonvulsants for the treatment of bipolar disorders. His name will remain associated with the discovery of valproic acid as a less side-effect prone alternative to highly potent neuroleptics used at the time in the acute treatment of the mania.
Furthermore, he intensively investigated the psychology of perception and established a model of perception dysfunction in psychoses. Beyond his broad interest into his neurobiological and psychopharmacological research Hinderk Emrich specialised in psychotherapy, was trained in cognitive-behavioral as well as psychodynamic and psychoanalytical therapy and was recognized as a training analyst after C.G. Jung.
In 1992, Hinderk Emrich was appointed the Professor of Psychiatry and Chair of the Department of Clinical Psychiatry at Hanover Medical School (MHH), succeeding the social psychiatrist and philosopher Karl Peter Kisker. At MHH, Hinderk Emrich continued his research work and combined humanities, neurobiological and psychopharmacological approaches. He kept and renewed and remained faithful to his principle of “Hospitality in Psychiatry” towards patients.
In addition to his work at the MHH, Hinderk Emrich received numerous national and international visiting professorships as well as honors and prices within and outside psychiatry, such as the Alfred-Hauptmann-Award for Epilepsy Research. He became involved in editorial work for various journals and was a long-term member of Pharmacopsychiatry's advisory board.
Extending on his varied medical and artistic interests, Hinderk Emrich studied philosophy at the LMU Munich and received his doctorate on transcendental philosophy in the work of J. G. Fichte in 1999. During his last years at MHH, Hinderk Emrich developed a stronger focus on philosophical questions, received numerous teaching assignments for philosophy, e. g. at the Leibnitz University Hannover, where he received the venia legendi in “Philosophy” in 1992.
Hinderk Emrich was also involved in theatre productions and film projects. He succeeded in combining medicine, philosophy and art and united the natural sciences and the humanities in his work. He was a polymath in the original sense.
His colleagues, staff, numerous doctoral and post-graduate students, and his undergraduate and graduate students in the various disciplines experienced him as an outstanding university professor and physician, who was both active in the lecture hall and at the hospital bed with commitment and empathy. He did not give up even in almost hopeless situations for patients, but shaped new therapeutic approaches for the benefit of our patients. His human integrity and loyalty were appreciated by all. He was open to new experiences and perspectives, had a fine sense of humour, was extremely creative and could listen. With Hinderk Emrich we lose a friend, a teacher, and a leader who will be dearly missed.
We sadly mourn for Hinderk Meiners Emrich and will keep him an honourable memory.