IN LOVING MEMORY
“Dr. Baker was passionate about his research and his work with clients and loved to discuss his latest discoveries. He became a CalGETS provider in 2014 and was actively treating gamblers from early 2015 up until a few weeks before his death in July of 2020. He was a valued member of the monthly supervision group that met at my office, and his enthusiasm will be greatly missed. He brought an object relations psychoanalytic perspective not only to the field of gambling addiction, but to his work with stutterers and to those individuals on the autistic spectrum. At the time of his death, he was writing a book about this approach to stuttering. His wife, Jane, will be completing it. There will be a memorial service; due to the pandemic, however, a date has not yet been set.” ~ Dr. Richard Rosenthal
ROBERT BAKER, JD, PHD, PSYD
December 20, 1949 – July 1, 2020
Robert Baker, a psychoanalyst whose research and clinical work with children and adults left us with life changing treatments for stuttering, autism symptoms, ADHD, and addiction, passed away from a terminal illness at his home in Los Angeles. He leaves behind his beloved wife, Jane, dear step-daughter and son-in-law, Rachel and Jean-Francois, and the lights of his life, grandsons Tristan and Max. He had a great love for dogs, music, travel, reading, Shakespearian theater, and evenings at the Magic Castle. He had an infectious sense of joy and humor and loved spending time with friends, travel with his wife, and playing with his grandsons. He and his older grandson Tristan enjoyed “popcorn and root beer parties” at every visit, where just the two of them would talk and play, and he also loved engaging with toddler Max’s “ice cream store” and “trucks” games. He was truly passionate about his research and clinical work, and generously allotted part of his practice to those who could not otherwise afford treatment. His respected clinical skill coupled with a strong empathic and intuitive abilities helped bring lasting benefit to many lives. He often expressed with deep gratitude how much he loved his work, and said that the two most important events in his life were finding his wife and discovering a treatment to stop his own stuttering.
Robert was born and lived in Los Angeles, spending his childhood in Boyle Heights and later West Los Angeles, where he became a Bar Mitzvah at Temple Beth Am. During high school and college, he drove a delivery truck for his father’s produce business, and also worked at Temple Beth Am and Dodger Stadium. In law school, he specialized in tax law, and continued post law school education, earning additional degrees in business and domestic/international tax law.
However, he later found what he knew was his true calling. In the late 1990s, his unique research into stuttering and British Object Relations psychoanalysis earned him a PhD in psychology at California Graduate Institute (now, Chicago Institute of Professional Psychology), followed by a PsyD in psychoanalysis at Newport Psychoanalytic Institute, where he was a Training and Supervising Analyst.
Robert stuttered until about age 50. However, as a result of his research and subsequent psychoanalysis with a British Object Relations expert, he no longer stuttered, even in the final weeks of his illness. He had tried every treatment available from childhood to the 1980s, with no success, and said he had wondered almost daily how he could stop stuttering. He was led into psychoanalytic research while reading of an old psychoanalytic idea about the cause of stuttering. A psychoanalyst/professor acquaintance told him that this idea had been found to be incorrect, but strongly encouraged Robert to pursue PhD research to discover whether or not psychoanalysis could treat stuttering. While looking for and not finding any previous research, serendipity intervened in the form of a footnote referencing an unpublished essay on stuttering and psychoanalysis, which had been presented at a New York Psychoanalytic Institute lecture in the 1950s. He immediately called the institute, whose librarian told him it was part of an estate, and she did not know if it could be accessed. He thanked her, boarded an overnight flight, and the next morning he was at the institute offices at opening, where he found the essay pointing him toward British Object Relations psychoanalysis, which would form the basis of his own research and discoveries.
He worked with public school children in Los Angeles, and was asked to apply his methods with children diagnosed with ADHD and autism. He then discovered that his British Object Relations approach also radically changed these children’s lives when ADHD and autism symptoms were eliminated or reduced. Some children were moved from Special Education classes to programs for gifted students.
Robert also worked with a UCLA/California Department of Public Health research program which explores treatments for gambling disorder, where he extended his British Object Relations methods to treatment of gambling and co-occurring addictions.
Burial is at Eden Memorial Park in Mission Hills.