Philip F.D. Rubovits-Seitz, 83, who died of pneumonia May 31 at Sibley Memorial Hospital, was a distinctly unstuffy psychiatrist and psychoanalyst who practiced and taught in Indiana, Illinois and, most recently, Washington.
Dr. Rubovits-Seitz, the son of a doctor who made Arctic explorations, spent much of his career studying the methodology of clinical interpretation. While some in the mental health field view psychoanalysis as self-justifying and beyond validation, he viewed psychoanalysis as an interpretative discipline akin to social sciences and archaeology. He studied how one can make accurate interpretations, for example, by deconstructing a symptom to get at its marrow.
Quite conventional in appearance most of the time, he also liked getting inside the mind of social rebels, which he knew sometimes required an adjustment of image.
With his black turtlenecks, sunglasses and leather bracelets, he called himself the "hippie shrink" when his patients included members of the Chicago counterculture in the 1960s. The look was not phony; he was a motorcycle enthusiast fond of precision riding in competitions with English trial motorbikes and off-road enduro motorbikes.
Dr. Rubovits-Seitz was a devotee of Sigmund Freud, the neurologist who crafted theories of psychoanalysis involving interpretation of dreams, repressed memories and conflicts within the psyche. Freud's work often accented sexual development and drives and unconscious behavior.
After writing an early paper that won him notice for work on hypnosis, Dr. Rubovits-Seitz worked alongside the controversial psychoanalyst Heinz Kohut at the Institute for Psychoanalysis in Chicago in the 1950s and 1960s. He used his notes from that period to write "Kohut's Freudian Vision" (1999), a book about Kohut's cogent thinking about Freud. Kohut eventually became better known for challenging Freud's theories about the development of neuroses.
Dr. Rubovits-Seitz's best-known book may have been "Depth-Psychological Understanding: The Methodologic Grounding of Clinical Interpretations" (1998), which the late psychologist Paul E. Meehl said read like a detective thriller as it plumbed a field "strangely neglected by Freud, his disciples, and their critics."
Philip Franz Durham Seitz was born in Evansville, Ind. His father, who practiced internal medicine, was a medical officer on two North Pole expeditions at the turn of the century: One was led by Evelyn Baldwin, the other by Anthony Fiala. Both were brutal and failed attempts full of quarreling and disappointment.
Philip knew little of the treks. His father rarely spoke of them. Still, he sought his own adventure, and after graduating from high school, he and two friends left on a cross-country trip in a dilapidated Model A Ford. They supported themselves by working in crop fields.
Dr. Rubovits-Seitz attended Indiana University and graduated, in 1944, from the University of Pennsylvania medical school.
He served in the Army Medical Corps from 1946 to 1948, followed by five years as director of psychiatric research at the Indiana University medical center in Indianapolis.
A paper he wrote about using hypnosis to treat hysterical paralysis, blindness and other symptoms received in 1955 the American Psychiatric Association's Hofheimer Prize, the group's most significant award given for research.
In the 1960s, Dr. Rubovits-Seitz lived in a Chicago neighborhood with many who had dropped out of society and were part of the recreational drug culture of the psychedelic era. In 1974, the Annual of Psychoanalysis published his paper "Reality Is a Stone-Cold Drag," which analyzed the "massive disavowal of emotion" and the resulting boredom he saw in hippie youth.
To treat some of his patients, he knew he had to win their confidence. Instead of sitting in his office, he might talk to them in a garden or while working on a motorcycle.
"My main goal is to help the hippie patient recover his emotional life -- including his feelings and conflicts of feelings about important persons in childhood," he wrote in his paper. "To reach that goal, I know that I will have to put up with almost endless nonsense and acting out from the patient -- which I am willing and usually able to do -- if, in addition, I am given some opportunities to interpret, and, [then] by interpreting, to weaken the hippie patient's principal defenses of projection, passivity, massive disavowal of emotion, and excessive use of drugs."
He settled in the Washington area in 1976 and was a clinical professor of psychiatry at George Washington University Hospital until 1991. He lived in the District.
His marriages to Elaine Good Seitz and Genevieve Gordon Seitz ended in divorce.
Survivors include his wife of 27 years, Dr. Randi Rubovits-Seitz, a psychiatrist, of Washington; three children from his first marriage, Charles Seitz of Sierra Madre, Calif., Diane Pettit of Lewiston, Idaho, and Philip F.D. "Franz" Seitz Jr. of Arlington; two sisters, Betsy S. Martin of Washington and Carolyn Farone of Reno, Nev.; a brother, Charles L. Seitz of Cheviot, Ohio; four grandchildren; and a great-granddaughter.
In recent years, Dr. Rubovits-Seitz and his siblings put their father's Arctic diaries into book form.