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It is with great sadness that we share that our longtime board member and dear friend Dr. Michael Jenike has passed away, after a long battle with cancer.

Mike will be sorely missed. He was a pioneer in the field of OCD and related disorders, and his contributions to the IOCDF and the OCD community are immeasurable. In addition to serving as the Chair of the IOCDF Scientific and Clinical Advisory Board for nearly three decades, where he oversaw its growth to over 50 members, he was also a member of the Board of Directors for a number of years.

Michael was a giant in the field of mental health research, having dedicated his life to the study and treatment of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). He was unafraid to challenge existing standards and his internationally recognized work has transformed the practice of OCD treatment. Michael was a Professor at Harvard Medical School and he founded the Center for OCD and Related Disorders at Massachusetts General Hospital as well as the Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Institute (OCDI) at McLean Hospital. As a co-founder of the Obsessive Compulsive Foundation (now the International OCD Foundation), his contributions were instrumental in the advancement of OCD knowledge, treatment, and support networks.

Michael’s legacy lives on in the countless individuals who benefitted from his work over several decades.  Michael had an innate ability to put his patients at ease with his incredible sense of humor, deep wit, and unmatched compassion.  Michael’s approach to treatment was unconventional as he would do whatever it took to help each individual, and he was known for his lightning-fast response to anyone anywhere in the world who needed help. No individual was ever “too ill” for Michael to see, and he routinely improved the lives of individuals who had failed many courses of treatment before they were fortunate enough to be under his care.

In addition to being an outstanding scientist and clinician, Michael’s career was also defined by training and mentoring the next generation of OCD clinicians and researchers. Many of the current thought leaders in the mental health field started working on OCD research because they were inspired by Michael. 

On a personal level, Michael was a wonderful person and friend, devoted father, and grandparent. Our thoughts are with his children, Lisa, Eric and Sara, and his beautiful grandchildren.

We will miss our passionate and bright mentor, colleague and friend, but Michael’s memory lives on as an inspiration to all who strive for a more compassionate approach to mental health. His personal and professional legacy will continue to impact the world for generations to come.

— Sabine Wilhelm, PhD
IOCDF Scientific & Clinical Advisory Board

During his time with the IOCDF, Mike helped grow the Foundation into the global, mission-driven nonprofit that it is today. He inspired the IOCDF’s commitment to free resources, making sure everyone affected by OCD and related disorders had access to educational materials; reached out to donors and personally contributed enough to allow our growth in hires for communications, fundraising, and programming; and presented at every Annual OCD Conference. The lines after his presentations were so long that he often stood helping individuals for hours.

Mike Jenike, MD In Memory

The thing I will always remember about Michael was his humanity.  He always reminded us to think of the patient first, and everything else second.  He had an amazing moral compass that always pointed him to do what was best for the patients at all times.  His other legendary traits...his irreverent sense of humor, his unwavering loyalty, his belief in the basic good in everyone, are things I will try to carry with me.  He was a hero to many, and one of the few people truly deserving of that distinction.

— Diane Davey, RN, MBA
IOCDF Board of Directors

Mike was known for his generosity and passion for supporting OCD research so that we can better understand OCD and improve effective treatments. He created a culture of giving that was essential in establishing the IOCDF’s Research Grant Program, which he pioneered. The IOCDF’s Michael Jenike Young Investigator Awards were named for him in honor of these contributions and his formidable influence on the field, ensuring that his name will forever be associated with cutting-edge research in this field. Mike's family has asked for any donations to be made to the Mike Jenike Young Investigator’s Fund, of which 100% of proceeds go towards research funding.

Outside of the IOCDF, Mike dedicated his entire career to serving members of the OCD and related disorders community. A graduate of the University of Oklahoma College of Medicine, he founded the Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Institute at McLean Hospital, the first residential treatment program in the United States for individuals with OCD, and the Obsessive Compulsive Disorders Clinic and Research Unit at Massachusetts General Hospital, where he also served as medical director. He authored hundreds of papers on mental illness and was a professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. Mike contributed to the start of many researchers’ and clinicians’ careers by collaborating with them on research, books, or presentations, and by driving patients to newly founded clinics. He was also a decorated Vietnam War veteran.

It goes without saying: Dr Michael Jenike was a phenom. He was an intrepid trailblazer and powerful influence in the field of OCD, but his impact goes far beyond his legendary professional accomplishments and successes. Michael Jenike had a generosity of spirit, warmth, inclusivity, optimism, and passion which he shared with everyone in the OCD universe: patients, families, and professionals, and we are all better for it.

It has been my honor and my privilege to work clinically with him and walk side by side with him in friendship and in mission at the IOCDF over the last 25 years. He will be greatly missed. And always remembered.

They existed. They existed. We can be. Be and
be better. For they existed.
Maya Angelou (“When Great Trees Fall”)

— Denise Egan Stack, LMHC
IOCDF Board of Directors
Scientific & Clinical Advisory Board

Our condolences go out to Mike’s loved ones, especially his children,  Lisa, Eric, and Sara. If you have thoughts and memories of Mike that you would like to share, please do so here in the comments or on our social media channels.

Writing about Mike is like trying to capture lightning in a bottle.  He was a maverick who believed that the impossible could be solved.  When Mike found a challenge – and he would not stop until he had a solution.  He brought a vibrant energy to all of life, he could make you laugh in the hardest of times and he passionately insisted on keeping real-life experience at the forefront of research.  Mike loved his OCD patients, he adored researchers, and he inspired clinicians to enter the field.  He humbled us with his kindness; it is legend that after presentations, he would stand, with a line of people in front of him, for hours at a time, until every question was considered.  On a personal note, Mike was one of my closest friends and inspired me to join advocacy at the IOCDF.  He leapt into each day with his whole heart, and our job now is to follow his passion to help, until the day we too join him in the next adventure.

 — Susan Boaz
President, IOCDF Board of Directors

 

Tributes from Our Community

Dr. Jenike will always be remembered as the greatest pioneer in the OCD field. He taught so many of us how to do this work, embodied passion in everything he did and exuded love every step of the way. There are countless individuals and clinicians alike who do this work because of Dr. Jenike and we are committed to continuing to do it everyday. The greatest lesson I learned from MJ is to always make time - if you knew him, emailed him or saw him at the conference, you know personally how he made time for every single person. We will miss him greatly but his legacy will live on forever. The world is a better place because of him.

— Elizabeth McIngvale, PhD, LCSW
IOCDF Board of Directors and National Advocate

My greatest memory of Michael will be the way he made every individual feel special. The very first time I met Michael at my inaugural IOCDF conference, he made me feel as if we were long-time friends, took an interest in my family’s struggle with OCD, and offered ongoing advice, support and true compassion. He cared about every single person and took a personal and proactive interest in helping them through their struggles, no matter how difficult. By taking care of every individual in his extended village, he made the world a better place.

— David Calusdian
IOCDF Board of Directors

My thoughts and condolences go out to Mike's family. Thank you for sharing such an incredible and kindhearted man. His dedication to helping people will live on in his legacy.

— Jo-Ann Winston
IOCDF Board of Directors

My first OCD mentor in 1987. He has always fueled my OCD passion and no matter what will always be in my thoughts and mentoring and teaching. Thank you Mike.

Fondly,
Michele Pato, MD
IOCDF Scientific & Clinical Advisory Board

When I was growing up the goal of all comedians was to get on The Tonight Show. It legitimized them as real comedians and let them know they were doing something right. The closest I’ve come to that experience was the first time Mike referred me a patient. I called my parents to tell them that “Mike Jenike” thinks enough of me to refer a patient to me. It was one of the highlights of my career.

Whenever I get overwhelmed with work and responding to calls, texts and emails I think of the fact that for every email I get Mike would get 20 and he would answer all of them at all hours.

Outside of everything he did to help those with OCD, Mike was a true original. The way he talked and thought was very much unique to him. He had a great wit. He had a quiet strength that you could feel.

My thoughts are with him and his family. I hope he has some sense of his huge impact on all of us and on so many people and families dealing with OCD and on every clinician who treats them.

— Steven Poskar, MD
IOCDF Scientific & Clinical Advisory Board

Mike broke new ground in psychiatry and continued over decades to shed new light on how to help people with OCD.

He thereby directly and indirectly relieved suffering in 10s of thousands of people worldwide and spent his life making the world a better place.

Please let him know that I (along with those who have already written) was inspired by his work and then followed along the path he forged.

I am most grateful for his inspiring actions and achievements.

Sincerely,
Lorrin Koran, MD
IOCDF Scientific & Clinical Advisory Board

My heart is heavy to hear about this. I wish I could have spent more time with Mike. He has been like a godfather to many of us. He has always been, first and foremost, an advocate for people with OCD. His dedication to patients has always inspired me, as well as his playful nature and not taking himself too seriously.

We are all lucky to have had him be a part of our lives and for him to be such a leader for IOCDF.

Best,
Jamie Feusner, MD
IOCDF Scientific & Clinical Advisory Board

If you were to imagine an ideal leader of an advocacy group, dedicated to making life better for all those affected by OCD, who could speak to those with, close to, treating, and researching OCD — over years and years — with optimism and non-judgemental humor, you'd come up with Mike.

So much gratitude,
Ben Greenberg, MD, PhD
IOCDF Scientific & Clinical Advisory Board

Mike was one of the major reasons that I became involved in OCD work. We’ve lost a giant. Mike was the driving force for OCD treatment and research. He is the one who encouraged me to undertake genetic studies of OCD. It is because of him that I devoted much of my research trying to learn more about the etiology of OCD. I will miss him terribly. Even though we did not communicate frequently, I knew he would always be there if I had questions or needed help with my research. My sincere condolences to his family.

— David Pauls, PhD
IOCDF Scientific & Clinical Advisory Board

Please let Mike and his family know that we are all thinking of him. So many of us on this board have admired and respected his efforts to help people with OCD over these many decades. He is an inspiration to us all.
Gail

— Gail Steketee, PhD
IOCDF Scientific & Clinical Advisory Board

Mike and the IOCDF are synonymous. I have such fond memories and pictures with him for over 30 years. Thinking of him and his family. When my husband was sick he was so kind to us. He will never be forgotten.

— Fugen Neziroglu, PhD
IOCDF Scientific & Clinical Advisory Board

Although I did not know him as long as many of you, he made a big impact on me…his generosity and unconditional support gave me confidence during a tough point in my life – and I am forever grateful.
Please send him and his family my best.

Warmly,
Carolyn Rodriguez, MD, PhD
IOCDF Scientific & Clinical Advisory Board

Having known him for well over 30 years I just can't seem to visualize his not being there to preside over SCB meetings with his good sense, down-to-earth manner, kindness, and particularly his frequent jokes (never mean). Never met anyone who could reply to anyone's emailed questions and requests as fast as Mike at seemingly any time of day or night. I only wish him well. Makes you realize how important it is to value the people in your life while you have them.

Best regards,
Fred Penzel, PhD
IOCDF Scientific & Clinical Advisory Board

I met Mike in the late 80s. I have thought of him as a good friend, mentor, and support when I had difficult times. He was always willing to help people in need. He also has a wonderful sense of humor. Let him know he is in our thoughts. 

It is said we all die two deaths. The first is when we take our final breath. The second is when our name is spoken for the last time. In that sense, Michael will live on for a long time in our hearts. 

Endeavor to live so well that when you die, even the undertaker is sad.

Mark Twain

— Jim Claiborn, PhD
IOCDF Scientific & Clinical Advisory Board

We are inspired by Mike and his invaluable, compassionate contributions to helping anyone suffering from OCD and thinking of him and his family at this difficult time,

Katia Moritz, PhD & Jon Hoffman, PhD

IOCDF Scientific & Clinical Advisory Board

I didn’t have the opportunity to get to know Mike well but he totally inspired me when I began learning about OCD and stood out as a giant in the field. I have been repeatedly astounded by how giving he is, responding to emails from people he’s never met with questions about their OCD care within hours, always heartfelt and deeply meaningful to the recipients. He’s touched SO many.

Peggy M.A. Richter, MD, FRCPC
IOCDF Scientific & Clinical Advisory Board

Let me echo Ben's portrait of Michael Jenike as the consummate clinician, researcher, and advocate, whose wit, humanity, and sense of humor illuminated the field of OCD for decades, improving the lives of millions worldwide. I always enjoyed us poking fun at each other even though Michael's quips always scored more points in a contest of friendly repartee, as he was always faster on the trigger. He is a legend and legends always live on.

— Wayne Goodman, MD
IOCDF Scientific & Clinical Advisory Board

I met him in an online support group he contributed to and I eventually got up the nerve to ask if he would present with me at the 2009 conference in Minnesota. He said "Sure" and that was the start of my career. He always treated me like I was already established and he really had no reason to do so, but I guess he was just that way.

— Jon Hershfield, LCMFT
IOCDF Scientific & Clinical Advisory Board

Very much how I experienced my own interactions with Mike: incredibly welcoming and enthusiastic, encouraging, and supportive. I do not know him as well as many on this thread but what I do know is that he devoted his life and career to being a great mentor and doing countless good works on behalf of patients suffering from OCD. My thoughts are with Mike and his family, so very grateful for his influence on me and on the field more broadly speaking.

— Martin Franklin, PhD
IOCDF Scientific & Clinical Advisory Board

Mike was an amazing colleague and a wonderful friend who will be deeply missed. He was a kind and generous mentor to me when I was just starting my work on BDD, and he alleviated the suffering of countless people around the world. His brilliant legacy will live on.

— Katharine Phillips, MD
IOCDF Scientific & Clinical Advisory Board

When I opened Foglia, I got a call from Mike. He said, "I am in Indiana with this guy with bad OCD — I will bring him there tomorrow." That was our first patient at Foglia and it started off three great years of residential OCD treatment there.

— Patrick McGrath, PhD
IOCDF Scientific & Clinical Advisory Board

I am so sorry to hear of Mike's passing. It is hard to imagine the IOCDF without him. Not only did his pioneering clinical and research work inspire so many of us to get into the field as clinicians and researchers, but his personal dedication to serving and supporting patients, families, and the broader community called us to serve this community through the IOCDF. He led by example. I know of no other world-renowned experts of his stature who spent as much time as he did to personally answer people's questions and emails, as well as always providing support and encouragement with a smile. To say he will be missed is a massive understatement.

— Sanjaya Saxena, MD
IOCDF Scientific & Clinical Advisory Board

Mike was indeed a trailblazer and hero in the OCD community. I echo all the sentiments expressed by my colleagues so far. It was in 2000 that I took a chance and emailed Mike to introduce myself and to hesitantly ask if he would review/endorse a book I had written for children with OCD. I never expected to hear back from such a renowned clinician and researcher in the field. To my amazement, he replied within hours and agreed to endorse my book, even though he had never heard of me before. He similarly welcomed me into the IOCDF and the SCB. I appreciated the warm and collegial tone he set for the organization and was always impressed with his low-key style and quick wit.

Mike will be missed but his legacy will live on.

— Aureen Wagner, PhD
IOCDF Scientific & Clinical Advisory Board

I will never forget Mike's help and support, and his huge heart, which he shared so readily with all of us. What a model he was with regard to his willingness to serve his clients, and his trust in their strengths, in our field, and in us — to grow and become stronger, to continue learning and refining our science and treatment. I will miss him, his wit and warmth, his exquisite kindness, and I'm so grateful for having known him.

— Lisa Coyne, PhD
IOCDF Scientific & Clinical Advisory Board

Michael was the brightest star in the OCD field. I echo the sentiments of our colleagues He will be sorely missed but certainly not forgotten. My deepest sympathies to his family and loved ones.

— Gerald Nestadt, MD
IOCDF Scientific & Clinical Advisory Board

Michael touched so many of us deeply and he was so very instrumental and supportive at the onset of my OCD work and throughout. I am deeply saddened by his passing and will miss him dearly as all of us do ... and we know his spirit will live on through the work of this community and all the people he touched.

— Thröstur Björgvinsson, PhD
IOCDF Scientific & Clinical Advisory Board

I share in the sentiments that have been and will be expressed by my friends and colleagues regarding Mike’s life and his passing. He is irreplaceable, but he will remain in my heart and mind for all that he has given — professionally and personally. My thoughts are with his family and others who are deeply affected by his death.

— Charles Mansueto, PhD
IOCDF Scientific & Clinical Advisory Board

Such sad news. I remember well my first meeting with Mike when Gail and I asked him about including hoarding in the IOCDF umbrella. He could not have been more accommodating. He was indeed a great man whose legacy will live on. It was an honor to have known and worked with him.

— Randy Frost, PhD
IOCDF Scientific & Clinical Advisory Board

The sadness we all share in response to Michael's passing is only comforted for me by all of these heartwarming stories and fondness for how deeply he touched so many people.

I have never quite met a person like Michael who would go into the remote woods to talk with a person with OCD through the door to convince them to enter treatment.

My best memories of him were at IOCDF conferences, always in the fitness room, as we talked while on elliptical machines!

— Barbara Van Noppen, PhD
IOCDF Scientific & Clinical Advisory Board

Mike was such a special person in every way. He was truly a friend, a colleague, and an inspiration. It's hard for me to grasp we have lost both Mike and Lee now.

— Alec Pollard, PhD
IOCDF Scientific & Clinical Advisory Board

I had the privilege of working with and knowing Mike Jenike for over 20 years. First at McLean Hospital’s OCD Institute and then at the IOCDF as a board member and chair of the scientific and clinical advisory board. Not only was he an influential pioneer in research into OCD (and a significant funder of OCD research), he set the tone in the OCD community. He was generous, courageous, hopeful, encouraging, and compassionate. He was a role model for all of us and he will be deeply missed.

— Jeff Szymanski, PhD
Former IOCDF Executive Director

Dr. Jenike was a world-renowned psychiatrist and pioneer. But what made him truly remarkable, was not just his ability to help those in need with medicine… he saved countless individuals simply by being their friend.

— Ethan Smith
IOCDF National Advocate

May we all be so noble to choose a life as impactful as Mike’s. He taught us how to take the work seriously but not take ourselves seriously. Mike was a gem.

— Thea Cawley, LICSW

What a loss. The OCDI exists because of Mike. He truly cared about his patients and did whatever he could to help. A rare combination of head and heart. He lives on in all of us.

— Nate Gruner, LICSW

Our paths have crossed at the OCDI for a few years, and I feel incredibly lucky for the time we worked together. His sense of humor, compassion, and relentless fight for the well-being of others have been an inspiration to me. He touched the lives of so many others and has shaped the OCD community in ways that will last. His dedication has shaped others in endless positive ways.

— Michele Candrian, PhD

Your wonderful, irreverent humor always made me feel at home during post-doc and reminded me to work hard without taking myself too seriously. I've relied so often on your example that it's okay to be myself (sometimes silly) at work because people respond to genuine warmth and good humor when they're hurting.

— Laura Ferrer, PhD

Mike was a true inspiration that had a profound impact on the lives of so many. He was always willing to go above and beyond to help anyone he was working with and was a constant source of hope for the OCD community. It was an honor to get the opportunity to work with him and learn from him.

Nathaniel Van Kirk, PhD, OCDI

Dearest Mike (aka “old man”). Words cannot express the gratitude we feel for all you’ve done for every life you’ve touched. I am honored to have worked side by side with such an intelligent, caring, humble, and funny-as-hell human. We will miss you wholeheartedly but will do our very best each day to carry the torch you so compassionately lit for all of us.

Love,
Jen Cullen, PhD (aka “kid”) #OCDI

Mike's family has asked for any donations to be made to the Mike Jenike Young Investigator’s Fund, of which 100% of proceeds go towards research funding. Make a donation in his honor today.

9 Comments

  • Julie Fresenius

    he saved my life.

    Reply
    • Robin Trotman

      My words exactly!!

      Reply
  • Charlene Salvador

    It was an honor to have Dr Jenike as my doctor and as a good friend of mine. I will miss our texts, chats, our dinners and laughs whenever we met up at the conferences. He always helped me when he could and was always there for me to answer my questions or to listen to me vent. He always made me laugh and called me names but I loved it. I loved him. He became my mentor and friend for over 20 years.. and will always have a place in my heart for him. He touched and saved so many lives in the OCD community . The world is a better place because of him and his legacy.
    I will always miss him and never forget how special he was to me. Rest in Peace, Doc! 🙏❤️🙏

    Reply
  • Dr Scott Blair-West

    A legend in OCD the world over. Very fondly remembered in Australia after his visits here years ago and his dedication – he stayed for hours after a dinner meeting to answer every question!
    Condolences to his family, everyone at McLean, Harvard and the IOCDF.
    Dr Scott Blair-West

    Reply
  • Jonathan

    Rest in peace. An amazing man who helped many. Thank you.

    Reply
  • Cindy

    What an amazing generous man — everyone should strive to contribute as much to this world and others as he did, rest in peace Dr Jenike!

    Reply
  • Michael Baglivi

    I was a patient at OCDI about 15 years ago, and at the time, I only knew Dr. Jenike as the coolest staff member who would regularly play basketball -all geared up in shorts and headband, with us patients after hours.

    About ten years later, my condition had worsened significantly, and at the suggestion of my therapist at the time, we contacted Dr. Jenike to ask for help. An appointment was arranged and I managed to drive myself from New Jersey to Boston in order to meet him. We had a great appointment: his relaxed, incredibly down to earth personality and good sense of humor was so refreshing, especially during such a difficult time, during which my financial state was also in a very poor state. At the end of my appointment, as I pulled out my checkbook, ready and willing to pay the fee his secretary had informed me of, he just shook his head and said casually: “Ah no, I don’t take money from patients who don’t have it”. I burst into tears and hugged him, and he just softly laughed and said: “You’re a good guy”.

    In 28 years of full time, intense mental health treatment, I have never been to another doctor who was willing to waive their fee.

    Shortly after our appointment, Dr. Jenike wrote me an incredibly thoughtful and informative email in which his expertise truly was allowed to shine. He gave me a list of about five treatments he recommended for an OCD case as severe as mine, the last of which was a serious, but very encouraging recommendation to try DBS surgery. I eventually had to pursue that option, and I am thrilled to say that I have made a miraculous recovery.

    I am bursting with gratitude daily for all the medical professionals that have helped me throughout the decades of my struggle, but amongst all the people I have worked with in my OCD journey, Dr. Jenike will always hold a distinct and special place. It is truly rare to encounter such kindness and generosity in this world, and it is particularly rare to receive that gift of humanity from the same hands that are capable of providing top notch mental health treatment.

    During the summer, I wrote Dr. Jenike a brief email to tell him of the good news of my success, and of course, to also thank him for his expertise and generosity. When I didn’t hear back, I knew it couldn’t have been intentional, and must have been due to error or circumstance, so I went to google to see if he was still practicing, and this is where that search has led me.

    I am very saddened to hear of his passing, but I am overjoyed to see so many grateful patients and colleagues preserving his incredible legacy, and I didn’t hesitate when I saw the opportunity to add to the tribute with my small story. Thank you with all my heart, Dr. Jenike.

    Reply
  • Carter Waddell

    I served on the IOCDF board with Mike for over 15 years and he was the heart and soul of the organization the entire time. Before I got on the board, I met Mike at my first IOCDF conference held that year in St Louis as a very troubled parent of a child who had just been diagnosed with OCD. I believe with my whole heart that Mike helped my wife and me save our son’s life and in doing so, I know he saved mine.

    Reply
  • Mike Sizemore

    Dr. Jenike,

    I cannot express my thanks to you properly. You did so much for so many people and their families. We would not be where we are today without your dedication.

    Reply

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