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Jonathan Kellerman (born August 9, 1949) is an American psychologist, and Edgar and Anthony Award-winning author of numerous bestselling suspense novels. His writings on psychology (and specifically psychopathology) include Savage Spawn: Reflections on Violent Children. Most of his fictional stories feature the character of Alex Delaware, a child psychologist who consults for the police, assisted in his investigations by LAPD detective Milo Sturgis, who is what Kellerman describes as "gay, but so what?" He has also written numerous essays, an art book on vintage guitars entitled With Strings Attached, and two children's books that he illustrated. In 2015 he received the APA Award for Lifetime Contributions to Psychology.
Kellerman was born in New York City, son of David, an aerospace engineer and inventor, and Sylvia, a dancer and office manager. He attended Yeshiva of Central Queens (YCQ) before his family relocated to California. He grew up in Los Angeles and received a BA in psychology at UCLA in 1971. He worked his way through college as a cartoonist, illustrator, journalist and editor, as well as by teaching guitar. As a college senior, he co-wrote an unpublished novel that garnered a Samuel Goldwyn writing award. That prize has served as a stepping-stone to film writing for other writers, but Kellerman deliberately avoided the world of screenwriting and enrolled in a PhD program in clinical psychology at the University of Southern California. He received his PhD from USC in 1974. His doctoral research was on attribution of blame for childhood psychopathology and he published a scientific paper on that topic, his first, at the age of 22. He is currently a Clinical Professor of Pediatrics at the Keck School of Medicine.
Kellerman's externship, internship and post-doctoral fellowship were at the Childrens Hospital of Los Angeles/USC School of Medicine, where he became founding director of the Psychosocial Program, Division of Hematology-Oncology. Kellerman's initial position at CHLA was conducting research into the effects of psychological isolation in germ-free "plastic bubble" rooms upon the emotional and intellectual development of children with cancer.
Simultaneously, he was assigned to minimize the destructive consequences of such intense treatment by developing a multi-disciplinary clinical approach. The success of that endeavor led to the expansion of psychosocial services to all oncology patients at CHLA and the program developed by Kellerman and his staff was the world’s first attempt to provide comprehensive, systematic emotional support to pediatric cancer patients and their families and served as the template for what is now considered appropriate care. Kellerman’s experiences at CHLA led him to publish his first book in 1980, a medical text that he edited, titled Psychological Aspects of Childhood Cancer. He is, himself, a survivor of thyroid cancer.
During Kellerman’s time at CHLA, he also conducted research and published in the areas of disease impact and adolescence, disease-related communication and its effect upon emotional adjustment, pediatric pain management, sleep and anxiety disorders, the treatment of childhood encopresis, and the neuropsychological effects of central nervous system chemotherapy and radiation.
Kellerman’s extensive work with anxiety disorders led him to publish a book for parents, Helping the Fearful Child, in 1981. Four years later, his first novel, When the Bough Breaks, was published, became a bestseller and was adapted as a TV movie. He has published one, occasionally two, bestselling thrillers every year since. During his tenure as a practicing psychologist, he came into contact with the legal system as a consultant and expert witness and some of those experiences have impacted his novels.
Jonathan Kellerman lives in Los Angeles with his wife Faye Kellerman, herself a well-known bestselling crime writer. They have four children. Their oldest, Jesse Kellerman, is a bestselling novelist and award-winning playwright. Their youngest, Aliza Kellerman, co-wrote Prism, a young adult novel published in 2009, with her mother.
Jonathan Kellerman has publicly spoken out against what he calls the "misguided" release of severely mentally ill people into the community, where they must fend for themselves instead of receiving proper care. He has stated that such people should receive counseling and psychotherapy as well as medication, as opposed to today's model in which they receive only medication and no other care at all.
Faye and Jonathan Kellerman’s decades of philanthropy include endowments at Childrens Hospital of Los Angeles Division of Hematology-Oncology, where a yearly lecture has been named after Jonathan, and USC’s department of psychology and Thornton School of Music. They have also contributed to numerous educational institutions, the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s musical instrument department, the Georgia Okeeffe Museum, and the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival.