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In Celebration of Hanns Hippius

A tribute by William E. Bunney

 

        Hanns Hippius was an internationally renowned leader of academia and research in the field of serious psychiatric disorders.    

        I had an opportunity to interact with Hanns every year for more than two decades. The World Health Organization (WHO) formed a Scientific Committee involving scientists from many countries from Europe, Asia and the Americas whereby one senior scientist from each country was appointed to the Committee. Hanns represented Germany.  I was honored to represent the United States.  The committee met in a different country every year.  Members collaborated and published groundbreaking research.  Hanns and his department hosted one of these annual committee meetings in Munich.   

        Another scientific committee, organized by Nathan Kline in the 1960s, met for one week each year at a top resort at different sites in the Caribbean.  About 15 internationally renowned scientists were invited.  Each participant gave a two-hour lecture relevant to their current research investigations. Hanns always gave brilliant presentations.  As an indication of the quality of the invited scientists, two of the members of this group went on to receive Nobel Prizes.  

        Hanns was a most-respected leader of psychiatry in Germany and many of his departmental trainees went on to become chairs of psychiatry departments in Germany and other European countries.    

        In the 1970s terrorists captured members of the American Embassy in Iran.  After many months, the hostages were freed and were flown to Wiesbaden, Germany where they were debriefed for a number of days prior to returning to the US. My wife, Dr. Blynn Bunney, was invited by the US State Department to play a leading role in obtaining data concerning the hostages' traumatic experiences and studying their reactions to the extreme stresses they endured.  Following the time in Wiesbaden, she was invited by Hanns to give a lecture to his department in Munich concerning her work with the American hostages.   It was extremely well-received.   

        During my Presidency of the CINP (1986-1988) Hanns and his department hosted the biennial international Congress of the CINP in Munich. Hanns did an outstanding job as we had one of the best attended meetings of about 5,000 scientists from all over the world.  

        Aside from our professional friendship, Hanns and I also enjoyed social activities together. Hanns was an outstanding skier and had an ongoing commitment to attend the combined Austrian-German science meetings held every year in Oberlech, Austria. I was invited to attend a meeting and gave the one and only lecture I have ever given in German. At that meeting, as he often did, he went by helicopter to nearby mountain peaks to ski steep runs in deep powder. After one of our scientific meetings, he invited me to accompany him to a ski resort at the Stubai Glacier in Austria where we enjoyed several days of skiing.   

        Over many years, I had a wonderful relationship, both scientific and personal, with Hanns Hippius who I believed to be an outstanding scientist and an exceptional friend.  He will be greatly missed.   

 

December 16, 2021