The son of a Mayo Clinic endocrinologist and an artist mother, Bob Rynearson was born in Rochester, Minnesota, in 1932. After graduating from Harvard with a bachelor’s degree in liberal arts, he attended the University of Minnesota School of Medicine. Throughout his academic career, he maintained a strong interest in art, spending much of his spare time sculpting. In 1962, he completed his psychiatric residency at the Mayo Foundation. He then served as assistant medical director at the Rochester State Hospital until moving to Temple, Texas in 1965 to establish the Department of Psychiatry at Scott & White Clinic, a multi-specialty clinic modeled after Mayo.


When Texas A&M University established its medical school in 1978, Dr. Rynearson became the first chairman of its Department of Psychiatry, a position he held until his retirement from academic medicine in 1997. While chair, he introduced numerous innovative concepts in inpatient and outpatient psychotherapy, including the use of art and videography to help patients access repressed emotions.


He and his wife, Marjie, built a house that accommodated their own passion for studio art and provided an environment for encouraging similar interests in their four sons. The compound grew to include studios for silk-screening, ceramics, paper-making, sculpting, and glass-blowing. For inspiration, Dr. Rynearson traveled to Alaska and to the Sepik River in Papau, New Guinea, where he studied totem poles and masks. He was fascinated by how traditional indigenous artists captured emotion in their depictions of human faces. He applied these insights and techniques to his own sculpture in wood, marble and clay and also to a technique called profile self-confrontation, a short cut to the unconscious.  He found the profile self-confrontation to be the most effective technique for helping his patients. 


He now divides his time between private practice and sculpting.  He is an emeritus Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association, the American College of Psychiatry and the Southern Psychiatric Association, of which he is past president.