Faculty Memorial - Irene Fast (1928-2019)
Irene Fast, professor emerita of psychology, in the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts, died peacefully on July 19, 2019, at the age of 91.
Professor Fast received her A.B. degree from Bethel College in Kansas in 1951 and her Ph.D. degree from the University of Michigan in 1958. From 1958-63, she was a lecturer in the Department of Psychology. She left in 1963 to serve as chief of psychological services at the San Fernando Valley Child Guidance Clinic in California but returned to the University of Michigan in 1965 as a lecturer in psychology. She was promoted to associate professor in 1968, professor in 1973, and professor of psychology in the Department of Psychiatry in 1974. She served as associate director of the counseling center from 1982-87.
Within the department, Professor Fast played a central, prolonged, and demanding role in formal courses and agency supervision in the diagnostic training of clinical psychologists. Also greatly valued was her assistance in the complicated transition years as the Counseling Center was transformed into the current University Center for the Child and Family.
Professor Fast's scholarly contributions have had a significant impact, beginning with her early work on bereavement and on step-parenting and her papers demonstrating the vital role of personality variables in vocational choice. Subsequent investigations produced new perspectives on depression and borderline personalities, especially with respect to nature of borderline psychotic children. But perhaps her most compelling studies were set forth in her books, Event Theory: A Piaget-Freud Integration; Gender Identity: A Differentiation Perspective; and the forthcoming Selving: A Relational Theory of Self-Organization. Event Theory is a powerful recasting of concepts of early development, pressing far beyond earlier work. Gender Identity builds a richly textured new formulation of gender differentiation from wide-ranging sources of evidence. Selving seeks to bring psychology back to the study of the neglected I-Self (self as subject) component of William James' distinction of I-Self vs. Me-Self (self as object), in the process drawing a persuasive picture of a dynamic, relational self.
Recognition of this remarkable set of contributions has led to numerous roles on editorial and advisory boards and to the awarding of distinguished honors from the American Psychological Association.
Professor Fast retired from active faculty status on May 31, 1998.