Remembering Fred Frese, PhD - News Article

Remembering Fred Frese, PhD

It is with great sadness that members of the Child Guidance & Family Solutions mourn the passing of Fred Frese, Ph.D. on July 16 at his home in Hudson, Ohio. Fred was a kind and caring man, and a fierce advocate for the rights and dignity of the mentally ill.

My first contact with Fred was some 25 years ago when he was the keynote speaker at a schizophrenia conference at a state hospital in Pennsylvania. I was blown away that this bright, articulate, passionate man had himself struggled with schizophrenia throughout his adult life. Little did I know at the time that 10 years later I would move to northeast Ohio and that man would become a colleague, a mentor, and friend.

Between 1988 and 2018, Fred delivered more than 2,000 presentations locally, statewide, nationally and internationally where he talked opening and bravely about having schizophrenia. Fred quietly demonstrated by his actions that individuals with schizophrenia can live extraordinary lives.

Fred’s career began as a captain in the US Marine Corps where, at a young age, he was diagnosed with schizophrenia. Despite living with arguably the most debilitating psychiatric disorder, Fred went on to become a renowned psychologist, who served as Director of Psychology at Western Reserve Psychiatric Hospital from 1980 to 1995 (the very hospital he was admitted to when he had his first break). He was a professor in the Psychiatry Department at NEOMED, served on the clinical faculty at Case Western Reserve University. Fred authored many articles and book chapters and he is the editor of “The Role of Organized Psychology in the Treatment of the Seriously Mentally Ill.”

In his advocacy efforts, Fred was an unflinching advocate for “consumers.” At the same time, he spoke openly about how essential medication was to his stability. He founded and served on local and national mental health advocacy boards and organizations, including NAMI Ohio and NAMI national. Fred was featured on CNN, World News Tonight with Peter Jennings, The Chicago Tribune, The Wall Street Journal, and in the video I’m Still Here: The Truth About Schizophrenia. He was one of the founding members of the Treatment Advocacy Center, whose founder, Dr. E. Fuller Torrey, reacted to Fred’s death with the comment: “I will remember Fred most for his warmth, invariable politeness and thoughtfulness of others. He was a great man who was afflicted with a terrible disease that he used to help educate others. He was a rare human being and we are all poorer for his death.”

It was during my time on the board of NAMI Ohio, and working with the BeST Center at NEOMED, that I got to know Fred best. I valued our two-hour commutes to and from Columbus for NAMI Ohio board meetings, and learned so much from him on the way. I especially recall the trip to Columbus with Fred and his wife (Penny) for a meeting with Governor Kasich to advocate on behalf of mentally ill Ohioans. Fred’s ease talking to the governor, and our discussions to and from the meeting, taught me a lot about what it takes to be an effective advocate.

Though I am saddened that Fred is no longer with us, I will remember him for his dynamic speaking style, his sense of humor, his passion for learning, and his fervent defense of his mentally ill "brothers and sisters."

by Dr. Steven W. Jewell, M.D., DLFAPA