Obituary | Per-Anders Rydelius, MD, PhD

Per-Anders Rydelius died on Dec 25, 2021, at the age of 76, after being ill for more than a year with a severe illness. He was born on Dec 5, 1945.

By: Prof Helmut Remschmidt and Prof Myron Belfer

Per-Anders Rydelius died on Dec 25, 2021, at the age of 76, after being ill for more than a year with a severe illness. He was born on Dec 5, 1945. 

From 1989-2019, he was a Professor of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (from 2013 on as a Senior Professor) at the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden, and from 2019 on, he was Professor Emeritus.  In his later years he worked as a senior consultant in CAP for the Stockholm County Council.  

Professor Rydelius studied medicine at the Universities of Gothenburg and Umeå and became an MD in 1971. He trained in CAP in Umeå from 1970-1971 and in Stockholm from 1972 on to become a specialist in this discipline in 1977. Professor Rydelius was deputy clinical director and clinical director of the Clinical Services at the Department of CAP at the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm from 1978-1996.

From left to right: Helmut Remschmidt, Myron Belfer and Per-Anders Rydelius

From left to right: Per-Anders Rydelius , Helmut Remschmidt and Petrus de Vries.

In 1981, he defended his thesis “Children of alcoholic fathers – Their social adjustment and their health status over 20 years”. In 1982 he was appointed a lecturer (docent) of CAP. Later he trained in management at the program for Executive Education/Health Care (Stockholm School of Economics) and from 2000-2006 served as Dean of the Department of Women’s and Children’s Health at the Karolinska Institutet (including the Divisions of Obstetrics/Gynecology, Neonatology, Pediatrics, Pediatric Endocrinology, Pediatric Neurology/Orthopedics/Rheumatology, Pediatric Oncology and Hematology, Child Surgery, Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, and Midwife Education). 

In the summer of 1994, he was a visiting professor at Professor Felton Earls program on juvenile delinquency, “The Chicago South Neighborhoods”, at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston/USA. Professor Earls and Professor Rydelius remained colleagues and friends.  From Sept 2003 – Feb 2004, he was a guest professor in the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry/Developmental Clinical Psychology and Psychiatry at Nagoya University/Japan. From Nov 2007 – Nov 2012, he was a guest professor at the Central South University in Changsha, Hunan/China and from 2013-2015 a guest professor at Karlstad University in Sweden.  

Professor Rydelius’ interest in research focused on longitudinal prospective studies to explore the long-term consequences of  stress on children’s wellbeing, on the great variance in mental age in children of the same chronological age, and on the importance of relative immaturity to the understanding of psychopathology in children. He was a member of the Editorial Boards of several journals, published more than 200 articles and chapters in journals and books and supervised 23 PhD students. 

He had national assignments of different kinds, e.g. as President of the Swedish Association of CAP and as a scientific reviewer at the Swedish Council of Science, as well as international assignments in IACAPAP from 1994 on, as the chair of the LOC for the IACAPAP World Congress in Stockholm 1998, as Secretary-General from 2004-2006, and as President from 2006-2010. He was appointed Honorary President of IACAPAP in 2015. He was a Program Chair of the IACAPAP “Helmut Remschmidt Research Seminars”, established in 2006.  From 1997-2000, he was a member of the Section Committee for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry of the World Psychiatric Association. From 2008-2019, he served as a member of the WHO Advisory Group for the revision of ICD-10 to ICD-11 and a member of the working groups on the WHO revision of ICD-10 classification of mental and behavioral disorders in children and adolescents and in eating disorders. 

From left to right: Per-Anders Rydelius , Helmut Remschmidt and Myron Belfer

From left to right: Helmut Remschmidt, Petrus de Vries, Bruno Falissard, Per-Anders Rydelius and Andreas Warnke.

As Rydelius went to school in Sweden while German was still taught as one of the major important international languages, he read and understood German. In his office, he collected most of the German textbooks of psychiatry, child psychiatry and also historical ones. He was proud to show off his knowledge of German along with Kari Schleimer. 

Per-Anders Rydelius was a fully engaged physician and a wonderful mentor for young child psychiatrists all over the world. With regard to many problems, he talked with passion and enthusiasm about the “Swedish way”. Professor Rydelius  was a remarkable story-teller and a passionate moose hunter. Moose hunting season was a special time for Professor Rydelius and these days in October could not be occupied by any other activities. All who have known him, will remember him as a generous, kind, modest, and noble man with great knowledge and an humanistic approach. 

He is survived by his wife Eva-Lena, a daughter and a son, and three grandchildren. 

IACAPAP Bulletin, Issue 65