REMEMBERING CAROLE EDELSTEIN
By Elizabeth Casalegno, MD
I first met Carole Edelstein as a 2ndyear resident at UCLA. I had been told by multiple upperclassman that she was the most outstanding PCFA psychotherapy supervisor available, and if I was interested in working with her, I should definitely secure a relationship with her prior to the 3rdyear. My profound fear of missing out strongly outweighed my fear of approaching a person who was, and I’m not exaggerating here, legendary amongst UCLA residents.
My initial reaction to Carole was primarily awe. I often felt that she knew more about my patients than I did, even though she had never met any of them. Her pattern recognition was unparalleled, and her understanding of what interventions would be helpful to what patients was always accurate. Her clinical acumen was so exceptional that, along with my classmates also receiving her supervision, we came to refer to her as “our Yoda”.
At the same time, I developed a very personal connection to Carole during my residency training. She regularly hosted me at her home, invited me to parties with other friends and professionals, and arranged outings to try the newest and most delicious food and drink that Los Angeles had to offer. When I was with Carole, I felt I had her undivided attention. While I thought at the time that she must really like me (which I believe she did), I realized at her memorial service that many people shared a similar experience to me. Carole had an exceptional ability to make the people in her life that she cared about – friends, colleagues, and patients – feel important and special, because they were to her.
Carole’s exceptional abilities as a clinician and educator followed from a prestigious pedigree that only reinforces her brilliance. At age 16, she attended Cornell University on a full scholarship and graduated as class valedictorian from the College of Industrial Labor Relations in 1963. In 1974, she entered medical school at Penn. She completed her internship and residency in psychiatry at UCLA. Following graduation, she became the first director of the UCLA Eating Disorders Clinic. She then started a private practice in Brentwood, maintaining her affiliation with UCLA by teaching the residency’s eating disorders seminar series and providing individual psychotherapy supervision to countless residents over the years.
But beyond her exceptional abilities as a clinician and educator and her overall professional brilliance, I will remember Carole most for her friendship and mentorship. I was surprised to find that our relationship did not end with my graduation from the residency. Carole continued to remain in regular communication with me, meeting up for lunch with me periodically, inviting me into journal clubs in which she took part, and helping me to open my own private practice. She offered me practical advice in my personal life as well that completely altered my life’s trajectory in a positive and meaningful way.
Carole’s passing on July 28th, 2018, came as a great shock to me and has left a substantial void that cannot be filled. But I am so grateful for having had the opportunity to know this accomplished, caring, dedicated, and exceptionally intelligent woman.
Carole is survived by her husband of 48 years, Professor Robert Edelstein, and her two sons, Michael and Stephen Edelstein.