Carol C. Austad, M.D.
by Michael Singer, Ph.D.
We have lost a friend and an admired colleague. Dr. Carol Austad was taken from us too early. She gave so much to those fortunate enough to have known her and worked with her. And she had so much left to give. We are richer for having known her, poorer for having her gone.
Carol obtained her undergraduate and medical degrees from the University of Michigan, where she also completed her residencies in Child and Adult Psychiatry. Subsequently she completed her training in Adult and Child Psychoanalysis at the Michigan Psychoanalytic Institute. As a faculty member at MPI, Carol contributed importantly to the Child/Adolescent Psychoanalytic Training Program. She was especially interested in early childhood development. On the national level, she most recently chaired the Committee on Child and Adolescent Psychoanalysis (COCAP) of the American Psychoanalytic Association.
Carol was there at the beginning of my psychoanalytic journey in the mid-1970's when we first met and participated together in the Child Analytic Study Program at Children's Psychiatric Hospital. Subsequently, on the faculty of the Michigan Psychoanalytic Institute, she was one of my most skilled teachers. When I chaired the Professional Educators Program Committee of MPI, Carol generously volunteered to supervise a group of school social workers and psychologists from Redford school district for many years.
She and her husband, Dr. Eric Austad, were founding members and financial backers of Allen Creek Preschool, an award-winning preschool in Ann Arbor, whose program is informed by psychoanalytic developmental principles. Carol's generosity of spirit and substance was unwavering from that beginning almost 20 years ago until her untimely death. With selfless devotion, she volunteered countless hours of her time to Allen Creek Preschool--its staff, its children and their parents--in many capacities over the years. Her most recent position at Allen Creek was that of Family Consultants Coordinator in which capacity she met weekly and supervised the mental health professionals working as Family Consultants at the school. She also led the weekly all-staff meetings at the school.
As a part of our Early Childhood Outreach program at Allen Creek, Carol's psychiatric consultation was instrumental in bringing a psychoanalytic developmental perspective to the physicians and staff working with children and their families at Mott's Children's Hospital. Most recently she was asked to oversee the utilization of funds left in trust to Allen Creek by Miss Cecily Legg, a child psychoanalyst, for the further development of its psychoanalytic mission. I would be remiss not to mention Carol and Eric's unyielding devotion to supporting Cecily in her final years of life.
I have felt fortunate to participate for many years in a study group with Carol. She did so much to contribute to sustaining our group, offering her psychoanalytic knowledge and wisdom, with incisiveness, humility, and a gentle sense of humor, as we all worked on improving our clinical skills and understanding. Our group will not be the same without her.
In addition to all the professional work Carol did volunteering her time and skills, she also maintained a full-time practice in child, adolescent and adult psychoanalysis in Ann Arbor. I knew a family who sought Carol's help at a time of deep family crisis involving a challenging adolescent. While offering treatment to the teen and guidance to the parents, she instilled an attitude of confidence that the family would get through it all. The mother told me some years later, "Dr. Austad saved my life." No doubt this was one of many such stories.
Carol was a model of what is best in psychiatry and psychoanalysis. She was a lifelong student and teacher of psychoanalysis. She listened closely, thought deeply, and then spoke wisely. An immensely gifted clinician, she managed to combine her psychoanalytic knowledge of theory, clinical experience, and common sense into meaningful formulations and interventions. She expressed her views clearly and with integrity and humility. She was unassuming in her demeanor in her personal life and her professional life.
In Ann Arbor we have often said, "Bo-- knew football." It's fair to say, "Carol knew children and development."
In addition to her love of and devotion to psychoanalysis, Carol was an accomplished equestrian from her adolescence throughout her life. She was a consummate gardener and a most gracious, hospitable hostess. She loved her family unreservedly.
Dr. Carol Austad died on July 4, 2013 of lymphoma with complications. She is survived by her husband, Dr. Eric Austad, by her daughter, Nissa, son-in-law, Drew, and twin grandchildren, Iain and Anika. All of us, her friends, her colleagues, and her patients, will miss her.
The family requests that any gifts be made "In Memory of Carol Austad" to: Allen Creek Preschool, 2350 Miller Avenue, Ann Arbor, MI 48103.