Joseph D. Matarazzo

To successfully grapple with one of the more important challenges of the last 2 decades of the 20th century, we must aggressively investigate and deal effectively with the role of the individual’s behavior and lifestyle in health and dysfunction. There is much more that could be done at the interfaces of normal physical health and behavior."

-Joseph D. Matarazzo in the American Psychologist, 1982, p. 12.

Biographical Notes:

PhD Northwestern University 1952

APA President: 1989

Joe Matarazzo has had a distinguished career in American and international psychology. Joe’s father, Nicolo, emigrated to the United States at age 13 and became a United States citizen. He returned to Italy and married Adelina Mastroianni.

Joe was born in Italy in 1925, but was an American citizen. Because of World War II, Joe graduated high school in an accelerated program and enlisted in the U. S. Navy at age 17. After 6 months, he was selected for officer training. This placed him in an accelerated college degree program, which he completed in 28 months, first at Columbia, then at Brown University. During his service aboard a Navy oil tanker in the Far East, Joe was influenced to choose clinical psychology as a career, despite having never taken a psychology course. Nevertheless, he was accepted as a graduate student at Brown, contingent on his completing undergraduate foundation courses. (It was at Brown that Joe met his wife, Ruth, also a psychologist who has had a distinguished career).

It was then that he discovered that Brown did not offer a doctorate in clinical psychology, so with the help of Brown’s psychology chairman, Walter Hunter, he transferred to Northwestern University and earned his doctorate under the tutelage of William A. Hunt. Joe served a career-altering internship year at the Washington University School of Medicine. There he began what turned out to be a lifelong commitment to the interface between medicine and psychology.

In 1957, Joe and Ruth both accepted appointments in what soon became the Oregon Health Sciences University. Joe became the chair of the nation’s very first Department of Medical Psychology. There, Joe was a pioneer in developing the fields of behavioral medicine, behavioral health, and health psychology. His research has had 3 foci: the clinical interview, cognitive/intellectual functions, and health psychology.