1997 Hans Selye Award

Richard H. Rahe, M.D. received his medical degree and training at the University of Washington Medical School, where he won honors for his 1961 thesis “Psychological and Psychophysiologic Aspects of Abdominal Hernia.” He studied under Tom Holmes, one of the Founding Trustees of The American Institute of Stress, who had been investigating the relationship between stressful life situations and nasal reactions with Harold Wolff at Cornell-New York Hospital. Like Stewart Wolf and other members of the “Wolf(f) Pack”, Tom had gone to another teaching center to serve in a similar stimulating fashion. He found an apt pupil and colleague in Dick Rahe and the fruits of their labors appeared in their 1967 landmark article “The Social Readjustment Rating Scale”. The “Holmes-Rahe Scale” quickly became the gold standard for stress assessment and Dick has provided updates on his periodic revisions of this at prior Congresses.

Few are aware of the wide range of his other activities and contributions, including meticulous observations during his lengthy career in the Navy on the relationship between stress and cholesterol and the effects of swimming and strenuous exercise on stress-related parameters, long before these became popular topics. He has been the recipient of both the Navy Commendation and Meritorious Service Award Medals and his achievements were acknowledged by the American Psychosomatic Society in 1988 by electing him President. At our 1992 Congress we were treated to his psychosocial perspective of Vincent Van Gogh in a superb presentation detailing the correlation between his paintings and the life change events and emotional stress reflected in the hundreds of letters written to his brother Theo. Dick is Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Nevada Medical School and Director of the Nevada Stress Center in Reno. The Ninth International Congress On Stress featured a session paying tribute to him by students and colleagues.