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Leon Eisenberg

leon eisenberg, leon eisenberg last interview
Leon Eisenberg, August 8, 1922 – September 15, 2009 was an American child psychiatrist, social psychiatrist and medical educator who "transformed child psychiatry by advocating research into developmental problems"

He is credited with a number of "firsts" in medicine and psychiatry - in child psychiatry, autism, and the controversies around autism, randomized clinical trials RCTs, social medicine, global health, affirmative action, and evidence-based psychiatry Having retired in 1967 from Johns Hopkins Hospital Department of Child and adolescent psychiatry he was the chairman of the department after Leo Kanner and from Harvard Medical School in 1988, he continued as The Maude and Lillian Presley Professor of Social Medicine and Psychiatry Emeritus and actively serving - lecturing, researching and writing, and mentoring in the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine of the Harvard Medical School in the Longwood Medical Area of Boston until a few months before his death in 2009 He received both his BA and MD degrees from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, taught previously at both the University of Pennsylvania and Johns Hopkins University, and was Chief of Psychiatry at both Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore and the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston during formative periods in psychiatry for each institution


  • 1 Medical accomplishments
  • 2 Humor
  • 3 Death
  • 4 Timeline of Leon Eisenberg's life and achievements
  • 5 Memberships, offices, and committee assignments in professional societies
  • 6 Editorial boards
  • 7 Academic committees
  • 8 Themes of most recent writing
  • 9 Later autobiographical reflections: "Were We Asleep at the Switch"
  • 10 Earliest papers
  • 11 Select publications
  • 12 Papers written from consulting
  • 13 Awards
  • 14 Awards named for Leon Eisenberg
  • 15 See also
  • 16 References
  • 17 External links

Medical accomplishments

The reasons Leon Eisenberg is listed as a famous figure in world and American psychiatry are numerous; here are eight select reasons Leon Eisenberg identified rapid return to school as the key to treatment in the management of the separation anxiety underlying school phobia He completed the first outcome study of autistic children in adolescence and recognized patterns of language use as the best predictor of prognosis Of the two first studies of the outcome of infantile autism, he reported the American study in the American Journal of Psychiatry in 1956, and the UK study was reported in JCPP shortly afterward by Victor Lotter and Sir Michael Rutter That was a time when a narrow rather than a broad definition of autism was in fashion It is of interest that the poor prognosis was evident both in the narrowly and broadly defined cases and that, because many of the cases now called autistic would have been called "mental retardation: moderate to severe", they would have joined other such children with a relatively poor outcome

He was Principal Investigator PI on the first grant from the Psychopharmacology Branch of NIMH for RCTs in child psychopharmacology From a concern for evidence-based care, well before the phrase was coined, he introduced randomized controlled trials RCTs in psychopharmacology and showed that "tranquilizing" drugs were inferior to placebo in the treatment of anxiety disorders, whereas stimulant drugs were effective in controlling hyperactivity He completed the first RCTs of psychiatric consultation to social agencies and of the utility of brief psychotherapy in anxiety disorders He published a forceful critique of Konrad Lorenz's instinct theory He established the usefulness of distinguishing "disease" from "illness" He has highlighted the environmental context as a determinant of the phenotype emerging from a given genotype, and from the late 1990s through 2006, he had been involved with developing conferences and resources for medical educators in various specialties that would help them incorporate, into courses with their current and future students, the tidal wave of new information in genomics yet to puzzle future clinicians This interest may have been encouraged by his stepson, Dr Alan Guttmacher, Acting Head of the National Human Genome Research Institute For many decades, Leon Eisenberg had criticized psychoanalysis from a number of platforms

The scientific contributions of Dr Eisenberg include:

  • the first longitudinal follow-up of Leo Kanner's original cases of autism
  • a study that identified the roots of social phobia in parental anxiety
  • the first clinical trial of the effectiveness of psychiatric consultation in a social agency
  • the first randomized controlled trial in childhood psychopharmacology
  • the first randomized controlled trial of stimulant drugs in adolescents
  • the first randomized clinical trial of brief psychotherapy
  • a forceful critique of Lorenz’s theory of instincts and imprinting
  • an early statement of the distinction between “disease” what doctors deal with and “illness” what patients suffer
  • a widely cited critique of the oscillation of psychiatry between brain-centered and mind-centered approaches arguing for the integration of the two
  • a synthesis of the evidence on the importance of training primary care physicians to recognize and treat depression
  • papers that highlight the molding of the brain structure by social experience
  • publications putting inheritance in an environmental context as a determinant of risk and resilience
  • Called "the father of prevention science in psychiatry"

Specific publications referring to the above achievements are contained in his bibliography

Leon Eisenberg is proudest of the Diversity Lifetime Achievement Award he received in 2001 for his role in inaugurating affirmative action at HMS in 1968 and sustaining it as Chairman of the Admissions Committee from 1969 to 1974 He regards that as his most important contribution to Harvard Medical School

With his wife, Dr Carola B Eisenberg, former Dean of Students, first at MIT, then at Harvard Medical School, he has been active with Physicians for Human Rights, which as an organization received a Nobel Peace Prize in 1997 for its International Campaign to Ban Landmines

In mid-2009 June 22, 2009, a Leon Eisenberg Chair in Child Psychiatry was named at Children's Hospital Boston The first chairholder of the Leon Eisenberg Professorship in Child Psychiatry is David R DeMaso, MD, HMS Professor of Psychiatry and Psychiatrist-in-Chief at Children's Hospital Boston

His brief ~30 pages autographical memoir a walk through the history of psychiatry was published posthumously by Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica - in mid- or late-2010 "Were we asleep at the switch" was written from his home


Among his friends and professional colleagues, Leon Eisenberg was known for his humor and friendly wit which he shared in lectures, publications, and even as Recording Secretary for the American Academy of Arts and Sciences sometimes in the forum of haiku

Attendees at the Annual Leon Eisenberg Award at the Harvard Faculty Club in Cambridge, Massachusetts, end the evening - after the Awardee's lecture - with informal sharing of 'Leon's jokes to the best of our memories' White it's often assumed that these quips and stories were Eisenberg originals, research shows that many if not most - or even all - 'had a prior history' sometimes a very long history

One example of 'an original' related to healthcare and medicine is:

The embarrassingly poor outcomes of the painfully expensive US healthcare system can be summed up in the words of Dolly Parton, "It costs a lot of money to look this cheap!"

Collecting his humor is difficult often it was in personal e-mails, but many agree that a few typical scenarios recurred:

  • Several persons of different social backgrounds involved in a difficult, odd, or even humorous situation, usually with a Jewish psychiatrist or a rabbi
  • A very wise person involved with something very unusual
  • A well-known historical event However, the late Senator Ted Kennedy is also credited with this story
  • Poetry often haiku

Close friends and fans described his stories as customized for each occasion so they never tired of hearing the same stories repeated because, with customization, they never were truly the same story or joke

Former President of Case Institute of Technology then Case-Western Reserve, Dr Edward M Hundert, while he was a medical student class of 1984 at Harvard Medical School, played the part of Leon Eisenberg in the HMS Class Folies, in which as his character he sang the supposedly satirical but actually most complimentary tune, "I feel witty!"


Leon Eisenberg died of prostate cancer at his home in Cambridge, Massachusetts on September 15, 2009

Memorial Services were held at Mt Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in September 2009, and in Boston, Massachusetts, in the New Research Building at the Harvard Medical School, on March 12, 2010

Timeline of Leon Eisenberg's life and achievements

Eisenberg in 2007
  • 1922 - Born in Philadelphia, the son of Russian Jewish immigrants
  • 1934-1939 Attended Olney High School, Philadelphia PA
  • 1938-1939 - Editor of Olney High School newspaper
  • 1939 - Graduation from Olney High School, Philadelphia PA; won a Mayor’s Scholarship to College based on the College Entrance Board Examinations
  • 1942 - Leo Kanner identified 11 boys with unusual constellation of traits—extreme social isolation, an inability to look people in the eye, a preoccupation with objects and ritual, and hand-flicking and other repetitive movements
  • 1944 - AB - College of University of Pennsylvania nearly straight As
  • 1944 - Applied to medical schools with nearly straight A’s in college; turned down by all those schools; University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine accepts him after intervention by Pennsylvania legislator on behalf of outstanding student Leon Eisenberg
  • 1946 - Graduated valedictorian of his medical school class but denied along with the seven other Jews who applied an internship at the University of Pennsylvania hospital; went to Mt Sinai Hospital in New York City instead
  • 1946 - MD - University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine
  • 1946 1947 - Rotating Intern, Mt Sinai Hospital, New York City discovered psychiatry
  • 1947-1948 - Instructor in Physiology, University of Pennsylvania
  • 1948-1950 - Instructor in Basic Science Program, Walter Reed Hospital
  • 1948-1950 - Captain, Medical Corps, US Army
  • 1950 1952 - Psychiatric Resident, Sheppard Pratt Hospital, Towson, MD
  • 1952 1954 - Fellow in Child Psychiatry, Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore, MD - works with the great psychiatrist, Leo Kanner Eisenberg would join him in his exploration of the newly identified psychiatric disorder, autism, paying special attention to the social, and especially, the family setting of the children in which it appeared Becomes Kanner's protégé: his doubts about psychoanalysis were encouraged by Leo Kanner
  • 1953-1955 - Instructor in Psychiatry, Johns Hopkins University
  • 1955 Dec - Certified in Psychiatry, American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology
  • 1958-1961 - Associate Professor of Psychiatry, Johns Hopkins University Became Chief of Child Psychiatry 2 years before actual promotion to full Professor
  • 1959 - Became Chief of Child Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins upon the retirement of Leo Kanner became Full Professor 2 years later, in 1961
  • 1959-1967 - Chief of Child Psychiatry, The Johns Hopkins Hospital
  • 1960 May - Certified in Child Psychiatry, American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology
  • 1961-1967 - Professor of Child Psychiatry, Johns Hopkins University
  • 1962 - Eisenberg launched the first randomized clinical trial of a psychiatric medicine childhood clinical psychopharmacology
  • 1967 - AM Hon Harvard University
  • 1967-1974 - Chief, Psychiatric Services, Massachusetts General Hospital
  • 1967 - only months after arriving to chair the Psychiatry Department at Massachusetts General Hospital, Eisenberg was asked to join a small committee, including HMS Professors Jon Beckwith, Ed Kravitz, and David Potter, that was pushing to increase the number of African-American students at the Medical School
  • 1967-1993 - Professor of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School
  • 1969 - first HMS entering class to include black students, who had been recruited through the efforts of Eisenberg and his colleagues
  • 1973 - DSc Hon University of Manchester, England
  • 1973-1980 - Chairman, Executive Committee, Department of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School
  • 1974-1977 - Member, Board of Consultation, Massachusetts General Hospital
  • 1974-1980 - Maude and Lillian Presley Professor of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School
  • 1974-1992 - Senior Associate in Psychiatry, Children's Hospital Medical Center
  • 1977-2009 - Honorary Psychiatrist, Massachusetts General Hospital
  • 1980-1991 - Chairman, Department of Social Medicine and Health Policy, Harvard Medical School invited by then HMS Dean Daniel Tosteson
  • 1980-1993 - Maude and Lillian Presley Professor of Social Medicine
  • 1987 - Named Senior Fellow of the Harvard Program in Ethics and the Professions, later to become the Edmond J Safra Foundation Center for Ethics at Harvard University, for which a partial history is outlined on their website
  • 1991 - DSc Hon - University of Massachusetts
  • 1992-2009 - Honorary Senior Staff Psychiatrist, Children's Hospital, Boston
  • 1993 - Retirement from Harvard Medical School then mandatory; becomes Professor Emeritus; continues to serve actively
  • 1993-2009 - Maude and Lillian Presley Professor of Social Medicine and Professor of Psychiatry, Emeritus, Harvard Medical School
  • 2009 - Leon Eisenberg Chair of Child Psychiatry named at Children's Hospital Boston
  • 2009 - Death at home September 15

Memberships, offices, and committee assignments in professional societies

  • American Association for the Advancement of Science 1947–2009
  • American Federation for Clinical Research 1949–1966
  • Baltimore City Medical Society 1950–1967
  • American Psychiatric Association 1952–2009; Chair, Child Psychiatry Section '63-'65 Trustee, '73-'76
  • Sigma Xi 1952–2009
  • Maryland Psychiatric Society 1952–1967; President, '59-'60
  • American Association of University Professors 1954; President, Johns Hopkins Chapter '60-'61
  • Federation of American Scientists 1955–1970
  • Association for Research in Nervous and Mental Diseases 1955–2009
  • Society for Research in Child Development SRCD 1956–2009
  • American Public Health Association 1956–1972
  • American Orthopsychiatric Association 1957–2009
  • Council Member, Federation of American Scientists 1957–1968
  • American Academy of Pediatrics 1958–2009
  • American Psychopathological Association 1958–2009
  • Group for the Advancement of Psychiatry GAP 1959–1962
  • American Academy of Child Psychiatry 1961–1971
  • Psychiatric Research Society 1963–2009
  • American Pediatric Society 1966–2009
  • Massachusetts Medical Society 1967–2009
  • American Academy of Arts and Sciences 1968–2009; Chair, Section II-5 Nominating Committee, 1993–95; Communications Secretary 1995-2002
  • Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences 1973—2009; Council, Institute of Medicine, '75-'77; Advisory Committee, Strategies for the Prevention of Disease and the Promotion of Health, '77; Membership Committee, '78-'82; Program Committee, '79-'81; Speaker, 1980 Annual Meeting; Research Panel, '86-'89; Steering Committee, National Strategy for Aids, '86-'89; Board on Health Sciences Policy, '88-'91; Chair, Committee on Unintended Pregnancy and the Well-Being of Children and Families, ‘93-‘95; Chair, Committee on Building Bridges in the Brain, Behavioral and Clinical Sciences 1999-2000; Chair, Interdisciplinary/Bridging Work In Health Disparities—Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health and Society Scholars, October 13, 2008, at IOM Annual Meeting in Boston, MA
  • Member, Advisory Committee to the Director, National Institutes of Health 1977–1980
  • Advisory Board, General Academic Pediatrics Development Program, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation 1981–1987
  • Member, Rosalynn Carter Mental Health Task Force, Carter Presidential Center of Emory University 1990–2002
  • Communications Secretary, American Academy of Arts and Sciences 1995–2002
  • Member, Committee for DSM V and ICD XII, American Psychiatric Association 2006–2009
  • Member, Organizing Committee for Women and Medicine Conference, Bahamas, November 29 - December 3, 2006, Josiah Macy Foundation 2006
  • Member, National Center for Science Education

Editorial boards

  • Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry 1960–1983
  • Journal of Psychiatric Research 1962–1993
  • Child Development 1962–2009
  • American Journal of Orthopsychiatry 1963–1973
  • Communications in Behavioral Biology 1967–1972
  • Comprehensive Psychiatry 1971
  • Social Psychiatry 1971–1982
  • Psychosomatic Medicine 1972–1976
  • Journal of Pediatrics 1974–1980
  • Culture, Medicine, and Psychiatry 1977
  • Psychological Medicine 1977–1990
  • International Journal of Clinical Pharmacology Research 1981–2000
  • The Future of Children 1991–2009
  • American Journal of Psychiatry 2005–2009

Academic committees

Leon Eisenberg served on seemingly countless academic and other committees at Johns Hopkins, Harvard, Massachusetts General Hospital, and Children's Hospital Boston He was typically among the first thought and invited to such committees because of his breadth

Attempts to identify a full set of such committees are proceeding

Themes of most recent writing

Leon Eisenberg is credited by numerous colleagues with "simple and direct" prose Arthur Kleinman, Norma Ware, etc He will be remembered most for his writings in these areas, though his encyclopedic comprehension reached much more broadly:

  • Evidence-based medicine
    • Capacity of academics to accept ideas that are absurd and later rejected
  • Why and how did psychoanalysis come to be so dominant for so long the triumph of psychopharmacology over psychotherapy and changes in the way care was financed has been explored repeatedly, but outlined here in two papers for different Josiah Macy Conferences:
    • "Modern Psychiatry: Challenges in Educating Health Professionals to Meet New Needs"
    • "The Challenge of Neuroscience: Behavioral Science, Neurology, and Psychiatry"
  • Diagnostic classifications see below - a theme continued from the very beginning of his career
  • Human rights of patients
  • Conflict of Interest COI in the Practice of Psychiatry and Medicine
    • Issues in rewriting the entire psychiatric taxonomy at one time Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders = DSM: COI, empirical evidence to support DSM changes, timing of revisions
    • Complicity of the medical and psychiatric professionals in torture
    • Criticizing the replacement of patient interests with the profit motive in healthcare
    • The relationship between the pharmaceutical industry and medical education through sponsorship and educational programs
  • Integration of genetics in health professional education
  • Resolving the conflict between integrative medicine and evidence-based biomedicine

Later autobiographical reflections: "Were We Asleep at the Switch"

Leon Eisenberg had written from his home a ‘mini-autobiography’ which he named "Were We Asleep at the Switch" Eisenberg suggested that a switch from 'mind' to 'body' has taken place in psychiatry as a discipline, which led to overuse of medication He also argued that, while medical scientists were worrying about the tedious science at the base of medical practice and healthcare decisions for the general public, "money" and monied interests had been making de facto decisions for the populace about how things that affected them deeply were going to be done In this view, the overwhelming impact of economic considerations over emerging bodies of expert knowledge may have rendered and might continue to render futile the professional contributions of many brilliant, timely, and concerned working scientists

In February 2012, the German weekly publication Der Spiegel reported in its cover story that Eisenberg spoke of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder ADHD in his final interview, seven months before his death, that ADHD was the prime example of a "fabricated disease" Eisenberg remarked that instead of prescribing a 'pill', psychiatrists should determine whether there are psychosocial reasons that could lead to behavioral problems

Earliest papers

  • Bazett HC, Love L, Newton L, Eisenberg L, Day R, Forster R 1948 Temperature changes in blood flowing in arteries and veins in man J Appl Physiol pp 1:3-19
  • Eisenberg L 1953 Treatment of the emotionally disturbed pre-adolescent child Proc Child Research Clinic Woods Schools 35:30-41
  • Kanner L and Eisenberg L Child psychiatry; mental deficiency American Journal of Psychiatry 1955: 111:520-523
  • Eisenberg, L 1956, The autistic child in adolescence American Journal of Psychiatry 112, pp 607–612 Reprinted in: Alexander et al, eds Psychopathology Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1959
  • Kanner L and Eisenberg L Child psychiatry; mental deficiency Am J Psychiat 1956; 112:531-534
  • Kanner, L & Eisenberg, L 1956, Early Infantile Autism 1943-1955, American Journal of Orthopsychiatry 26, pp 55–65 Reprinted in: Alexander et al, eds Op cit Reprinted in Psychiat Res Repts 1957 April, American Psychiatric Assn, pp 55–65
  • Eisenberg L The parent-child relationship and the physician AMA J Dis of Children 1956; 91:153-157
  • Eisenberg L Dynamic considerations underlying the management of the brain-damaged child GP 1956; 14:101-106
  • Glaser K and Eisenberg L Maternal deprivation Pediatrics 1956; 18:626-642
  • Kanner L and Eisenberg L Child psychiatry: mental deficiency Am J Psychiat 1957; 113:617
  • Eisenberg L Psychiatric implications of brain damage in children Psychiatric Quarterly 1957; 31:72-92
  • Eisenberg L Progress in neuropsychiatry J Ped 1957; 51:334-349
  • Eisenberg L The course of childhood schizophrenia Arch Neurol Psychiat 1957; 78:69-83
  • Kanner L and Eisenberg L Childhood problems in relation to the family Pediatrics 1957; 20:155-164
  • Eisenberg L The fathers of autistic children American Journal of Orthopsychiatry 1957; 27:715-724
  • Kanner L and Eisenberg L Child psychiatry; mental deficiency Am J Psychiat 1958; 114:609-615
  • Eisenberg L School phobia: a study in the communication of anxiety Am J Psychiat 1958; 114:712-718 Reprinted in: Trapp EP and Himmelstein P, eds Readings on the exceptional child New York: Appleton, 1962 Reprinted in: Bobbs-Merrill Reprint Series in the Social Sciences, 1966, p 433 Reprinted in: Davids A, ed Issues in abnormal child psychology California: Brooks/Cole, 1973
  • Eisenberg L Discussion: roundtable symposium on desegregation segregation-integration Am J Orthopsychiat 1958; 28:33-35
  • Eisenberg L An evaluation of psychiatric consultation service for a public agency Am J Public Health 1958; 486:742-749
  • Eisenberg L Emotional determinants of mental deficiency Arch Neurol Psychiat 1958; 80:114-121
  • Eisenberg L Diagnosis, genesis, and clinical management of school phobia Ped Clin North America 1958 August; 645-666
  • Eisenberg L, Marlowe B and Hastings M Diagnostic services for maladjusted foster children: An orientation toward an acute need Am J Orthopsychiat 1958; 284:750-763
  • Kanner L and Eisenberg L Child psychiatry and mental deficiency Am J Psychiat 1959; 115:608-611
  • Eisenberg L, Ascher E and Kanner L A clinical study of Gilles de la Tourette's disease maladie des tics in children Am J Psychiat 1959; 115:715-523
  • Eisenberg L Office evaluation of specific reading disability in children Pediatrics 1959 May; 235:997-1003
  • Rodriguez A, Rodriguez M, and Eisenberg L The outcome of school phobia: a follow up study Am J Psychiat 1959 December; 116:540-544
  • Eisenberg L The pediatric management of school phobia J Pediatrics 1959 December; 556:758-766
  • Eisenberg L Child psychiatry; mental deficiency Am J Psychiat 1960; 116:604
  • Eisenberg L Conceptual problems in relating brain and behavior Am J Orthopsychiat 1960; 30:37-48
  • Cytryn L, Gilbert A, and Eisenberg L The effectiveness of tranquilizing drugs plus supportive psychotherapy in treating behavior disorders of children Am J Orthopsychiat 1960; 30:113-129
  • Eisenberg L The challenge of change Child Welfare 1960 April; 39:11-18
  • Lesser LI, Ashenden BJ, Debuskey M, and Eisenberg L A clinical study of anorexia nervosa in children Am J Orthopsychiat 1960; 30:572-580
  • Eisenberg L and Gruenberg EM The current status of secondary prevention in child psychiatry Am J Orthopsychiat 1961; 31:355-367
  • Eisenberg L, Gilbert A, Cytryn L, and Molling PA The effectiveness of psychotherapy alone and in conjunction with perphenazine and placebo in the treatment of neurotic and hyperkinetic children Am J Psychiat 1961; 117:1088-1093
  • Bahn AK, Chandler CA, and Eisenberg L Diagnostic and demographic characteristics of patients seen in outpatient psychiatric clinics for an entire state Maryland: implications for the psychiatrist and the mental health program planner Am J Psychiat 1961 March; 117:769-777
  • Eisenberg L The strategic deployment of the child psychiatrist in preventive psychiatry J Child Psychol Psychiat 1961; 2:229-241 Reprinted in: Proc III World Congress on Psychiatry Montreal, 1961, pp 280–284
  • Eisenberg L Child psychiatry; mental deficiency 1960 Am J Psychiat 1961 January; 117:601-604
  • Eisenberg L, Landowne EJ, Wilner DM and Imber SD The use of teacher ratings in a mental health study: a method for measuring the effectiveness of a therapeutic nursery program Am J Pub Hlth 1962 January; 52:18-28
  • Eisenberg L The sins of the fathers: urban decay and social pathology Am J Orthopsychiat 1962 January; 32:5-17 Presented as lecture at 55th Annual Meeting of The Massachusetts Association for Mental Health, June 4, 1968
  • Bahn A, Chandler C and Eisenberg L Diagnostic characteristics related to services in psychiatric clinics for children Milbank Mem Fund Quart 1962 July; 40:289-318
  • Molling P, Lockner A, Sauls R and Eisenberg L Committed delinquent boys: The impact of perphenazine and placebo Arch Gen Psychiat 1962 July; 1:70-76
  • Eisenberg L Preventive psychiatry Annu Rev Med 1962; 13:343-360
  • Eisenberg L Child psychiatry; mental deficiency Am J Psychiat 1962; 118:600-605
  • Eisenberg L Possibilities for a preventive psychiatry Pediatrics 1962; 30:815-828
  • Eisenberg L If not now, when Am J Orthopsychiat 1962; 32:781-793 Reprinted in: Canada's Mental Health Suppl #36, April 1963 Reprinted in: World Mental Health 1963; 5:48-64 Reprinted in: David HP, ed International Trends in Mental Health New York: McGraw Hill, 1965 Reprinted in: Child and Family 19651; 4:84-91
  • Eisenberg L, Lachman R, Molling P, Lockner A, Mizelle J and Conners K A psychopharmacologic study in a training school for delinquent boys Am J Orthopsychiat 1963 April; 33:431-447
  • Oleinick M, Bahn A, Eisenberg L, and Lilienfeld A Early socialization experiences and intrafamilial environment Archives of General Psychiatry 1966 October; 15:344-353

Select publications

This list is incomplete; you can help by expanding it
  • Eisenberg, L "Can Human Emotions Be Changed" Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, January 1966, p 29
  • Eisenberg L Clinical considerations in the psychiatric evaluation of intelligence In: Zubin J and Jervis GA, Eds Psychopathology of mental development New York: Grune & Stratton, 1967:502 513
  • Eisenberg L Social class and individual development In: Robert W Gibson, Ed Crosscurrents in Psychiatry and Psychoanalysis Philadelphia and Toronto: JB Lippincott, 1967 London: Pitman Medical 1968
  • Eisenberg L The social development of human intelligence Harvard Medical Alumni Bulletin 1968; 43:2-7; reprinted 1969 in H Freemen, Ed Progress in Mental Health Churchill
  • Eisenberg L, Berlin, CI, Dill A and Frank S Class and race effects on the intelligibility of monosyllables Child Development 1968 December;394:1077-1089
  • Eisenberg L Au-dela de l'heridite: le test de l'evolution La Psychiatrie de l'Enfant 1968; 11:572-588
  • Eisenberg L The interaction of biological and experiential factors in schizophrenia Journal of Psychiatric Research 1968 November, Supplement #1;6:403-409
  • Eisenberg L Child psychiatry: the past quarter century American Journal of Orthopsychiatry 1969April; 393:389-401 Reprinted in: Davids A, Ed Issues in abnormal child psychology California: Brooks/Cole, 1973
  • Koupernik C and Eisenberg L Réflexions sur l'autisme infantile 1943–1969 Confrontations Psychiatriques Psychiatric Confrontations 1969; 23:31-55
  • Conners CK, Rothschild G, Eisenberg L, Schwartz LS and Robinson E Dextroamphetamine sulfate in children with learning disorders Archives of General Psychiatry 1969 August;21:182-190
  • Rutter M, Lebovici S, Eisenberg L, Sneznevskij A V, Sadoun R, Brooke E and Lin T Y A triaxial classification of mental disorders in childhood Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry 1969 December;10:41-61
  • Eisenberg, L "The Human Nature of Human Nature" Science, vol176, 1972, p 126
  • Eisenberg L "Psychiatric intervention" Scientific American 229; 116 127 Reprinted in: Humber JM and Almeder RF Eds Biomedical Ethics and the Law New York: Plenum, 1976 Reprinted in: Humber JM and Almeder RF Eds Biomedical Ethics and the Law 2nd Edition New York: Plenum, 1979, pp 109 120
  • Eisenberg L The perils of prevention: a cautionary note New England Journal of Medicine 1977 December 1;297:1230 1232
  • Eisenberg L Introduction In: Marmor J Psychiatry in transition New York: Bruner/Mazel, 1974:v viii
  • Eisenberg L Foreword In: Thomas A and Chess S The dynamics of psychological development New York: Bruner/Mazel, 1980:ix xvii
  • Eisenberg, L "Mindlessness and brainlessness in psychiatry" The Eli Lilly Lecture, Winter Quarterly Meeting Royal College of Psychiatrists, London, 21 January 1986 British Journal of Psychiatry 1986;148:497-508
  • Eisenberg, L "Rudolf Virchow: the physician as politician" Medicine and War 1986;24:243-250
  • Eisenberg, L “From circumstance to mechanism in pediatrics during the Hopkins century Pediatrics 1990; 85:42-49
  • Eisenberg, L “Subject and object in the grammar of medicine" Penn Medicine 1992Fall;6:18-28
  • Eisenberg L "The Social Construction of the Human Brain", American Journal of Psychiatry 152: 1563-1575, 1995 Translated into Italian as: ‘’La Costruzione Sociale Del Cervello Umano’’ Sapere 625:46-58, 1996
  • Eisenberg L "Nature, niche and nurture: the role of social experience in transforming genotype into phenotype" Academic Psychiatry 1998; 22:213-222 Reprinted in Epidemiologia E Psichiatria Sociale 1999; 8:190-7 Translated as: Naturaleza, Entorno Y Crianza El Papel de la Experiencia Social en la Transformacion del Genotipo en Fenotipo Psychiatria Publica 1999; 11:139-46
  • Eisenberg L "Would cloned human beings be like sheep" New England Journal of Medicine 1999; 340: 471-475 Reprinted in Klotzko AJ Ed 2001 The Cloning Source Book NY, Oxford University Press pp 70–79
  • Eisenberg, L “Does social medicine still matter in an era of molecular medicine" Journal of Urban Health 1999; 76: 164-175
  • Eisenberg, L “Whatever Happened to the Faculty on the Way to the Agora" Archives of Internal Medicine 1999;125:251-6
  • Eisenberg, L "Is Psychiatry More Mindful or Brainier than it was a Decade Ago" British Journal of Psychiatry 2000;1761-5
  • Eisenberg, L "Good Technical Outcome, Poor Service Experience: A Verdict on Contemporary Medical Care" Journal of the American Medical Association 2001;285:2639-2641; in reply Journal of the American Medical Association 2001;286:1315
  • Eisenberg, L "From Molecules to Mind" Eastern Mediterranean Health Journal 2002;7:3
  • Eisenberg, L “Social Psychiatry and the Human Genome: Contextualizing Heritability" British Journal of Psychiatry 2004;184:101-103
  • Eisenberg L "Letter to the Editor: Which Image for Lorenz" American Journal of Psychiatry 2004;161:1760
  • Eisenberg L "When “ADHD” was “the Brain-Damaged Child”", Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychopharmacology 2007;173:279-283

Many of Leon Eisenberg's books and papers have been translated into both European and non-European languages and have been widely cited

Papers written from consulting

Kleinman A, Eisenberg L, Desjarlais R Eds 1995, World Mental Health: Priorities and Problems in Low-Income Countries New York: Oxford University Press

  • Translated into Spanish as: Salud Mental en el Mundo by I Levav and R Gonzalez and published by Organizacion Pan Americana del Salud, Washington, 1997
  • Translated into Italian as: by C Belotti, G de Girolamo, A Fioritti, and V Melaga and published by Il Mulino/Alfa tape, Bologna, Italy, 1998
  • Translated into Ukrainian 2001


  • Sc D Hon, University of Manchester in the UK 1973
  • Sc D Hon, University of Massachusetts in the US 1991
  • Theobald Smith Award, Albany Medical College 1979
  • Aldrich Richmond Award, American Academy of Pediatrics 1980
  • Dale Richmond Awards, American Academy of Pediatrics 1989
  • Samuel T Orton Award, Orton Society 1980
  • Special Presidential Commendation, American Psychiatric Association 1992
  • Agnes Purcell McGavin Award for Prevention, American Psychiatric Association 1994
  • Distinguished Alumnus Award, University of Pennsylvania 1992
  • Camille Cosby Award, Judge Baker Children's Center 1994
  • Thomas W Salmon Medal, New York Academy of Medicine 1995
  • Blanche F Ittleson Memorial Award, American Orthopsychiatric Association 1996
  • Mumford Award, Columbia University School of Public Health 1996
  • Rhoda and Bernard Sarnat Prize for Outstanding Contributions to Mental Health, Institute of Medicine 1996
  • Award for Distinguished Contribution to Public Policy, SRCD Society for Research in Child Development 2003
  • Distinguished Service Award, American Psychiatric Association
  • Walsh McDermott Medal, Institute of Medicine and the National Academies
  • Benjamin Rush Medal and Lecture, American Psychiatric Institute 2006
  • Epidemiology Award, Harvard School of Public Health 2007
  • Harold Amos Diversity Award, Harvard Medical School 2008
  • Juan José López Ibor Award, Juan José López Ibor Foundation, World Psychiatric Association WPA, granted at the World Congress of Psychiatry in Prague, The Czech Republic 2008
  • Honorary Fellow, Greek Society of Neurology and Psychiatry
  • Honorary Fellow, Ecuadorian Academy of Neuroscience
  • Honorary Fellow, Royal College of Psychiatrists UK

Awards named for Leon Eisenberg

Shekhar Saxena

Several late-in-life and posthumous awards were developed to continue the historic legacy of Leon Eisenberg

  • Leon Eisenberg Chair in Child Psychiatry, Children's Hospital Boston named June 22, 2009; noted in 6/25/2009 Harvard Gazette story and in AmAcad announcement of Spring 2009
  • Leon Eisenberg Award, conferred annually in the Spring by the Program in Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities MH/DD, Children's Hospital Boston, beginning April 28, 2010 To date, the annual winners have been:
  • 2010 - Ludwik S Szymanski, MD, Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Director Emeritus of Psychiatry in the University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities UCEDD at Boston Children's Hospital - After 2010, the Ludwik S Szymanski Grand Grounds Lecture one hour always either preceded the Leon Eisenberg Award Dinner in the morning of the same day, or followed the Award Dinner the following morning at Children's Hospital Boston;
  • 2011 - James C Harris, MD, Professor of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences, Pediatrics & Mental Health, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and Bloomberg School of Public Health,
  • 2012 - Luis Salvador-Carulla, MD, PhD, Professor of Disability and Mental Health, Faculty of Health Science, University of Sydney, Australia
  • 2013 - Charles A Nelson, III, PhD, Professor of Pediatrics and Neuroscience and Professor of Psychology in Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School; the Richard David Scott Chair in Pediatric Developmental Medicine Research at Boston Children's Hospital and Director of Research in the Divisions of Developmental Medicine
  • 2014 - Sir Michael Llewellyn Rutter, CBE, FRS, FRCP, FRCPsych, FMedSci, Professor of Developmental Psychopathology, Institute of Psychiatry, King's College London, and consultant psychiatrist at the Maudsley Hospital
  • 2015 - Joseph T Coyle, MD, Eben S Draper Chair of Psychiatry & Neuroscience, Harvard Medical School, McLean Hospital
  • 2016 - Janina R Galler, MD, Professor of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School, and Psychiatrist in the Chester M Pierce MD Division of Psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital
  • 2017 - Shekhar Saxena, MD, FRCPsych, Director of the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse, World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland
The Award Ceremony involves a dinner at the Harvard Faculty Club with testimonies, presentation, celebration of Leon Eisenberg's jokes, and Grand Rounds with lecture the following morning in Judah Folkman Auditorium at Children's Hospital Boston
  • The Leon Eisenberg Scholarship given to one deserving medical student at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine
  • The Leon and Carola Eisenberg Award from Physicians for Human Rights

See also

  • List of famous figures in psychiatry
  • American Academy of Arts and Sciences AmAcad
  • Institute of Medicine
  • NIMH
  • Physicians for Human Rights
  • Separation anxiety disorder
  • Randomized controlled trial
  • Overdiagnosis
  • Psychiatry
  • National Academy of Sciences


  1. ^ Boston Globe obituary
  2. ^ The Creation of Psychopharmacology, David Healy, 2002, cites Eisenberg's role in evidence-based social psychiatry
  3. ^ Obituaries:Leon Eisenberg
  4. ^ Shanks Thirty Years of Affirmative Action at Harvard Medical School: A Mixed Method Program Evaluation, U Mass EdD Thesis by Alane Shanks 2004]
  5. ^ Kanner L and Eisenberg L Child psychiatry; mental deficiency American Journal of Psychiatry 1955: 111:520-523
  6. ^ Leon Eisenberg papers, 1905-2009 inclusive, 1968-2005 bulk HMS c196 Harvard Medical Library, Francis A Countway Library of Medicine, Boston, Mass
  7. ^ Video of the announcement of the Leon Eisenberg Chair in Psychiatry at Children's Hospital Boston, in which Dr William Beardslee, a colleague, notes the grounds for Eisenberg's being considered the founder of preventive psychiatry
  8. ^ AmAcad
  9. ^ This story was retold by colleague Dr Arthur Kleinman at the announcement of the Leon Eisenberg Chair at Children's Hospital Boston, between 1:13:00 and 1:14:00
  10. ^ David Teaching flood preparedness to Noah It's Not a Lecture: A blog by Wescott Strategic Communications December 6, 2013
  11. ^ Benedict Carey, Dr Leon Eisenberg, Pioneer in Autism Studies, Dies at 87 The New York Times Retrieved on October 3, 2009
  12. ^ Women and Medicine: Proceedings of a Conference Chaired by Catherine D DeAngelis, MD, MPH
  13. ^ Macy Conferences Women and Medicine To be held in November 2006 Chairman: Catherine D DeAngelis, MD, MPH in 2005 Josiah Macy, JrFoundation Annual Report, p 56
  14. ^ “Women and Medicine” Conference An allocation to support a Macy Conference on “Women and Medicine” held in Bermuda in November-December, 2006 $350,000 Chairperson: Catherine DeAngelis, MD, MPH, RN, pp 52-53 of printed book
  15. ^ Eisenberg, L Marketplace Medicine: Prescription for Disaster Academe: Bulletin of the American Association of University Professors 1999;85:26-30
  16. ^ A series of annual conferences on the future of integrating the avalanche of genetics research results from biomedical research in health professional education was sponsored by the Josiah Macy Foundation and coordinated from Leon Eisenberg's office at Harvard Medical School
  17. ^ Eisenberg, L 2000 Why is there a conflict between complementary and alternative medicine and the medical establishment Education of Health Professionals in Complementary/Alternative Medicine: Proceedings of a Conference Chaired by Alfred P Fishman, MD, Edited by Mary Hager Phoenix, Arizona, November 2–5, 2000 Sponsored by Josiah Macy Foundation
  18. ^ Eisenberg, L 2002 Complementary and Alternative Medicine: What Is Its Role Harvard Review of Psychiatry, 104, pp 221-230 Published online: 03 Jul 2009
  19. ^ Leon Eisenberg and Laurence B Guttmacher, Were we all asleep at the switch A personal reminiscence of psychiatry from 1940 to 2010, Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica, 2010, vol 122, Issue 2, pp 89-102
  20. ^ Jörg Von Blech, Schwermut ohne Scham, Der Spiegel, 2012, Issue 6
  21. ^ Online reference in Territori per la Salute Mentale through Google Books
  22. ^
  23. ^ Eisenberg Name Associated with Two New Honors, 23 Apr 2010
  24. ^ LEND Boston bio
  25. ^ Amazon Author page for James C Harris, MD
  26. ^ Luis Salvador Carulla - Google Scholar Citations
  27. ^ Face perception
  28. ^ Bucharest Early Intervention Project
  29. ^ Deinstitutionalisation orphanages and children's institutions
  30. ^ Springer link to Dr Janina R Galler's famous 1984 book, Nutrition and Behavior, part of a 5-volume series, Human Nutrition: A Comprehensive Treatise, which she co-edited; DOI 101007/978-1-4615-7219-0; Print ISBN 978-1-4615-7221-3; Online ISBN 978-1-4615-7219-0
  31. ^ Harvard Catalyst page for Janina R Geller, MD
  32. ^ NCBI PubMed publications list for Janina R Geller, MD
  33. ^ Janina R Geller, MD, profile page at MGH
  34. ^ Dr Janina R Geller's ResearchGate profile
  35. ^ Eisenberg Name Associated with Two New Honors

External links

  • Leon Eisenberg, MD, Faculty profile page
  • Johns Hopkins Society of Scholars
  • Leon Eisenberg: Dedicated to Letting the Outsider In, HMS Focus, Harvard Medical School, 02-22-2008, by Misia Landau, Senior Science Writer
  • Department of Global Health and Social Medicine of the Harvard Medical School
  • History of Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrics Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics: February 2003 - Volume 24 - Issue - pp S1-S18, by Robert J Haggerty, MD, and Stanford B Friedman, MD
  • June 22nd Leon Eisenberg Symposium online
  • 6/25/2009 Harvard Gazette story about the Leon Eisenberg Professorship in Child Psychiatry
  • 09/11/2008 Harvard Gazette story about Leon Eisenberg's winning the first Juan José López Ibor Award from the WPA, the World Psychiatric Association
  • HarvardScience 08/28/2008 online story about Leon Eisenberg's winning the first Juan José López Ibor Award from the WPA, the World Psychiatric Association
  • Legacycom obituary
  • Dr Alan Guttmacher, Acting Director of the National Human Genome Research Institute, Leon Eisenberg's stepson, defines autism
  • Leon Eisenberg's immediate family
  • The Hopkins Years: Alejandro Rodriguez takes charge after Eisenberg leaves for Boston

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