Fink married in 1949. He and wife Martha have 3 children: Jonathan, a professor of geology at Arizona State University and Rachel and Linda, professors of biology at Mt. Holyoke College and Sweet Briar College.
Fink studied medicine at New York University College of Medicine, qualifying in 1945. He spent two years as an army medical officer. He was trained at Montefiore, Bellevue and Hillside Hospitals, each in New York. By 1954 he was board certified in psychiatry, neurology and psychoanalysis.
Early research included federal government funded research into the changes in brain waves (electroencephalogram) induced by electroshock, antidepressant and antipsychotic drugs, opiates and narcotic antagonists, and cannabis and metabolites. . For the past fifty years Fink's main interest has been first in electroshock and then in psychopathology. . Over the years his ideas on ECT have evolved from an early suggestion that the biochemical basis of ECT is similar to that of craniocerebral trauma through to statements that organic mental syndrome is seen in all patients following ECT but is usually transient and finally to the position that ECT-induced memory loss is a hysterical symptom with parallels to the Camelford incident.
His most recent interest is in the psychiatric syndromes of catatonia and of melancholia. In 1985 Fink founded the journal Convulsive Therapy (now called the Journal of ECT). He was a member of the American Psychiatric Association's task forces on ECT 1975-1978 and 1987-1990.
Fink's awards include the Electroshock Research Association Award (1956), the Laszlo Meduna Prize of the Hungarian National Institute for Nervous and Mental Disease (1986), and Lifetime Achievement Awards of the Psychiatric Times (1995) and of the Society of Biological Psychiatry (1996).
In 1997 Fink moved to the Long Island Jewish Hillside Hospital to organize a government supported 4-hospital collaborative program examining continuation treatments in patients with major depression after successful ECT. The study group under the acronym "CORE" -- Consortium on Research in ECT -- has published on the merits of continuation ECT and continuation medication to sustain remission. [Kellner CH, Fink M, et al: Continuation ECT versus pharmacotherapy for relapse prevention in major depression: a multi-site study from CORE. Archives General Psychiatry 2006; 63:1337-44]. With Michael Alan Taylor, he reviewed the status of ECT in "Electroconvulsive Therapy: Evidence and Challenges" in the Journal of the American Medical Association [2007; 298:330-332.]
He is professor emeritus of psychiatry and neurology at SUNY at Stony Brook and has been on the faculty at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and the LIJ-Hillside Medical Center. He spends much of his time writing; recent books include Electroshock: restoring the mind (1999, Oxford University Press); with Jan-Otto Ottosson, Ethics in electroconvulsive therapy (2004, Brunner Routledge); and with Michael Alan Taylor, "Catatonia: A Clinician's Guide to Diagnosis and Treatment" (2003, Cambridge University Press), and "Melancholia: The Diagnosis, Pathophysiology, and Treatment of Depressive Illness" 2006, Cambridge University Press). Fink has funded a book on the history of ECT by Edward Shorter and David Healy.