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Renowned child psychiatrist John McDermott remembered

John F. “Jack” McDermott
John F. “Jack” McDermott

University of Hawaiʻi Emeritus Professor John F. “Jack” McDermott, a leading international figure in child psychiatry, died on December 6, 2015, just six days before his 86th birthday.

McDermott was founding chair of the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Hawaiʻi’s John A. Burns School of Medicine. He expanded the understanding of social and cultural influences on child and adolescent mental health and treatment and advanced the standards of psychiatric practice.

McDermott built the first psychiatry training programs in Hawaiʻi, recruiting and training record numbers of Native Hawaiian and ethnically diverse doctors to serve Hawaiʻi’s people, earning him lifelong respect and widespread affection.

McDermott also served as editor in chief of the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry from 1988–97, and co-edited the seminal textbook Childhood Psychopathology used to teach and train generations of child and adolescent psychiatrists. He published a dozen books including several popular with readers outside psychiatry, among them Raising Cain (and Abel too): The Parents Book of Sibling Rivalry and People and Cultures of Hawaiʻi: The Evolution of Culture and Ethnicity, which he co-edited with Naleen Andrade.

“He was my great mentor,” said Andrade, inspired by McDermott to become the first female Native Hawaiian psychiatrist, and who now leads graduate medical education at the John A. Burns School of Medicine. “During his final decade as department chair, 18 percent of the graduating psychiatrists from our training programs were Native Hawaiian. He significantly improved mental healthcare in Hawaiʻi, especially for under-served populations.”

Recounts daughter Beth, “Dad was a voracious reader and world traveler with an endless curiosity about people and cultures. He was always with a book, sometimes reading 3 to 4 at a time, along with news media, scientific journals. Anything he could get his hands on. You could always count on Dad to impart some bit of wisdom or insight at opportune moments, usually with a bit of wit and a twinkle in his eye.”

Services and memorial fund information

McDermott is survived by his wife of 57 years Sally, son John, daughter Beth and three grandchildren, Piper, Jack IV, and Phoebe.

Services will be held January 10, 3 p.m. at St. Clement’s Episcopal Church.

In lieu of flowers, donations to the school of medicine’s endowed professorship in psychiatry may be made online at www.uhfoundation.org/McDermott.

For more on McDermott, read the John A. Burns School of Medicine news release.