Eugene Brody, MD, BS Med '43
Eugene Brody, MD, an internationally renowned mental health expert, died March 13, 2010, at the age of 88.
Although his distinguished career took him throughout the world, Dr. Brody thought of himself a Missourian first. He treasured his connection to the University of Missouri and to his father's legacy. Dr. Brody's father was a dairy science professor at MU who was known for applying mathematics to biological processes. Dr. Brody earned bachelor and master's degrees in experimental psychology from the University of Missouri in 1941, as well as a two-year degree in medical sciences before graduating from Harvard Medical School in 1944.
Dr. Brody earned the MU Medical Alumni Organizations highest honor, the Citation of Merit Award, and an honorary doctor of science degree from MU.
The following obituary appears with permission from The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, where Dr. Brody served as editor-in-chief for more than 43 years.
Eugene B. Brody died on March 13, 2010. This brought an end to his 43 year tenure as this Journal's editor-in-chief. He was the 10th in a line of distinguished predecessors that stretches back to 1874. These stark words do not convey the nature of this brilliant and humane man.
Gene graduated from the University of Missouri and received his MD from Harvard. His psychiatric residency at Yale under the chairmanship of Eugen Kahn was interrupted when, at the age of 25, he began military service. He was assigned as the military psychiatrist for the station hospital in Fürth, Germany and the International Military Tribunal conducting the Nuremberg Trials. Working with German prisoners as well as those conducting the trials and their families, he was confronted with the reality of the relatively new concepts of genocide and human rights. From that time on, he was an unwavering advocate for human rights. He returned to Yale as chief resident in psychiatry under the chairmanship of Fritz Redlich. His first book (Psychotherapy with Schizophrenics: A Symposium), co-edited with Redlich, was published by International University Press in 1952, marking a transition from his early focus on experimental endocrinology and brain function to the social and cultural context of behavior and a holistic view of man. He was appointed to the position of associate clinical professor (and concurrently chief of the neuropsychiatric service at the West Haven Veterans Affairs Hospital and attending psychiatrist at the Yale Psychiatric Institute) in 1953. He also entered the New York Psychoanalytic Institute and began five years of training analysis.
In 1957, he accepted the position of professor of psychiatry at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. Two years later, he became Chairman and Director of the Institute of Psychiatry and Human Behavior. He was a specialist in the social aspects of psychiatry, as evidenced by his additional university positions of Dean for Social and Behavioral Studies and Director for the Program of Humanistic Studies in Medicine.
He displayed this social and humanistic focus in practice, teaching, multifaceted research and consulting activities, writing, and editing. In addition to psychotherapy in schizophrenia, his research interests included the influence of social and cultural context on the behavior of minority group adolescents and migrants in the United States, the extremely poor in Rio de Janeiro, and women in Jamaica. In addition to 10 books, his bibliography includes more than 250 articles. He was a Life Member of the American Psychoanalytic Association and a Life Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association. In 1991 he received an Honorary Doctor of Science degree from the University of Missouri.
Despite a demanding schedule of clinical and scholarly activity, he never lost the human touch, one that was usually accompanied by wit and deftness. A colleague, Len Press, who was director of social work at the institute, recalls that when meetings ran over time Gene would say, "We have time for one more superb, insightful, comprehensive question." Of course no one ever asked. Press also describes how Gene helped him develop professionally. Once when Gene was going to be away he said to Press, "Can you take over my Monday morning clinical conference?" This was quite a leap for a psychiatric social worker early in his career. Anthony Lehman, current chairman of the department of psychiatry and JNMD Advisory Board member says: "His genius as a clinician was remarkable. He was interested not only in the patient's disease but the culture they came from and their health." (Rasmussen, 2010). Another colleague, Robert Derbyshire, writes, "He was a friend, mentor and colleague who was accepting of human frailty, imperfection, ignorance and stupidity, all of which at some time in our relationship I displayed. A man with a more forgiving attitude I have not known. He helped me to grow not in his image, but in whatever image I saw for myself." (Personal communication, March 2010.)
He served as President of the World Federation for Mental Health from 1981 to 1983, as Secretary General from 1983 to 1999, and continued as Senior Consultant until the end of his life. In this capacity he traveled the world promoting the cause of humane mental health treatment and social justice, including the civil rights of psychiatric patients and women's reproductive freedom. Continually engaged in consultancies, advisory boards, and committees dealing with social and psychiatric problems at the local, national, and international level, he was intensely aware of the importance of the individual human connection. His ability to encourage conversations and identify areas of common interest helped to create and maintain a successful international community of organizations and individuals. World Federation for Mental Health President Tony Fowke writes: "Gene gave exceptional volunteer service to the Federation. He saw the Federation as a 'big tent' for mental health advocacy (and) saw common ground among all working internationally for mental health advocacy, though well aware of the importance of cultural differences." (Personal communication, March 2010.) The breadth of his contacts and the independence of his views were appreciated by his colleagues at the World Health Organization. Benedetto Saraceno, who retired this year as Director of the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse at WHO Geneva, writes: "He was one of the last mental health heroes: visionary, straight, moral, smart, courageous, politically incorrect! He was also a nice gentleman." Shekhar Saxena, current head of that Department, adds that Gene's contribution to mental health was "tremendous." (Personal communications, March 2010.)
His distinguished career as Editor-in-Chief of JNMD was based upon a firm conviction: "The role of editor, when taken seriously, has a unique educational potential through its power to influence the content, form, and clarity of the ideas and investigations of others" (Brody, 1967). His wide range of experience, constant pursuit of knowledge, appreciation of the importance of investigation, and complete mastery of language made him a formidable editor. His respect for the efforts of authors made him a greatly appreciated editor. A frequent contributor to JNMD summarizes an author's perspective this way: "I had strong impressions of him over the years, all positive. He seemed to represent the best of an earlier era that had blessedly stayed to keep behavioral science balanced one of the most encouraging editors." (J. Christopher Perry, personal communication, March 2010.) Roberta Apfel and Bennett Simon also speak for many JNMD authors and referees: "He was such an important mentor and professional friend to us in our psychiatric careers, and in our international mental health work—always generous with his time and advice and wisdom. He seemed larger than life and a person whose influence will last over time." (Personal communication, March 2010.) JNMD Advisory Board member Domenic Cicchetti writes: "He was a great pioneering leader in the mental health field and a truly kind and generous man. The meetings I had with him and the exchanges we had over many years were punctuated by his bright and quick sense of humor in an academic, yet very personal context." (Personal communication, March 2010.) Fellow Board member Steven Sharfstein notes: "His work and his writing made him an international star in psychiatry. He had a wonderful, open personality and an intellectual curiosity that was rarely matched in colleagues I've known." (Rasmussen, 2010)
The list of encomiums which can be used to describe Gene Brody is long. Among them all, the one that stands out is that he was tireless in his efforts to promote the just treatment of all people. He will be sorely missed.
Harris Chaiklin, PhD
Kathy McKnight, MEd
The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease
Issue: Volume 198(6), June 2010, pp 393-394
Copyright: © 2010 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.
Publication Type: [Memoriam]
In Memoriam Eugene B. Brody, MD, MA, DSc (Hons)1921–2010
Chaiklin, Harris PhD; McKnight, Kathy MEd
Columbia, Maryland, E-mail: email@example.com (Chaiklin)
Towson, Maryland, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org (McKnight)
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