In Memorium: Jeanne Achterberg

By Saybrook University

It is with deep sadness that I announce that Jeanne Achterberg died Wednesday afternoon, March 7, 2012, of metastatic breast cancer.

Jeanne Achterberg was a pioneer in mind-body medicine and complementary medicine. Early in her career, Jeannie collaborated with O. Carl Simonton, studying the quality of imagery in cancer patients. She was able to show that features in the imagery predicted the course of the illness. Since that time, she has championed the role of imagery in healing, the role of the mind and spirit in healing, and the shamanic role of the healer.

Jeannie went on to serve in the Office of Alternative Medicine, co-chairing the panel on mind-body interventions. The OAM grew into NCCAM, the home of complementary and alternative medicine within NIH. She is also a past president of the Association for Transpersonal Psychology.

Jeannie has contributed much to mind-body medicine: Her books, Bridges of the Body-Mind, Imagery in Healing, Woman as Healer, Rituals of Healing, Imagery and Disease, and Lightning at the Gate, remain best sellers. Jeannie has also given us a personal example of courage in the face of illness. Her book, Lightning at the Gate, narrated her own journey with illness.

Jeannie has been a friend and mentor to me for over 15 years. Our mutual friend Lynda Kirk introduced us in the 1990’s, when Jeannie presented a keynote at the Association for Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback. I am now attending this same meeting, and it is here I received Dean Bob Schmitt’s message and learned of Jeannie’s death. When I first joined Saybrook, Jeannie took the time to welcome me, and continually supported my work with students. Together Jeannie and I have served as advisors to the new International Network for Integrative Mental Health.

Jeannie has been a friend to the College of Mind-Body Medicine, since its inception. She has extended herself whenever possible to teach our students, especially in the imagery course, and also in theses and dissertations.

I extend my deepest sympathy and support to her companion Mark Harris, and to her family and close friends. She was a woman filled with creativity, compassion, and love, and we will all miss her.

Don Moss
Chair, College of Mind-Body Medicine