McGill University


McGill University
   , Montreal, Canada, history of psychiatry and neurosciences at (from 1940). From the 1940s through the 1960s, McGill University was, alongside Washington University in St. Louis, arguably the premier North American institution for training in biological psychiatry. In 1940, Sir Hugh Allan’s son donated the family’s historic mansion to Royal Victoria Hospital and to McGill, to be called the "Allan Memorial Institute." The backers of the new department were Dean Jonathan Meakins and the neurosurgery pioneer Wilder Penfield (1891–1976). They chose D. Ewen Cameron (1901–1967), a Scotsman then teaching at the Albany Medical School, as director and first chair of the department. Cameron arrived in 1943 with a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation "and money from Mr. J. D. McConnell, owner of the Montreal Star," as one historian of the institute said. The first patients were admitted in 1943. The Allan Memorial became the psychiatric wing of the "Royal Vic."
   Among Cameron’s and Penfield’s recruits to the Allan were: Psychoanalyst Miguel Prados (1894–), who arrived in 1944 after fleeing Fascist Spain. (Prados was a student of the Spanish histologist Santiago Ramón y Cajal [1852–1934], of Emil Kraepelin, and of British neurologist Frederick Walker Mott [1859–1926].)
   The neuropathologist Karl Stern (1906–1975), who had come to the Verdun Protestant Hospital ("VPH," a Montreal mental hospital) in 1940; he also lectured in neuropathology and established a gerontological unit in 1944 at the Allan, the first in the world.
   The neuropathologist Vojtech Adalbert Kral (1903–1988), a graduate of Charles University in Prague, who had studied in Zurich, Munich, and Vienna. He came to the VPH in 1949 (after spending 3 years in a concentration camp), then moved to the Allan in 1953 as director of the gerontology division. (See Dementia: separating . . . [1958].)
   Robert Cleghorn (1904–1995), a neurophysiologist, came to the Allan from Toronto in 1946 and organized a neuroendocrine unit and an experimental therapeutics laboratory.
   Charles Shagass (1920–), himself a Montrealer, trained at the Allan, studied stress under the physiologist Hans Selye (1907–1982), and then stayed on for the years 1952–1958 in the electrophysiology department. Shagass determined, notably in an article on "The Sedation Threshold" in Electroencephalography and Clinical Neurophysiology in 1954, that different people respond differentially to the same drug. This is the premise of psychopharmacology, and it may be demonstrated qualitatively or quantitatively, Shagass doing so quantitatively with the electroencephalogram. (See Barbiturates: sedation threshold [1954]).
   Eric Wittkower (1899–1983), who had graduated in medicine in Berlin in 1924, had gone to the United Kingdom in 1932, then to the Allan and the Montreal General Hospital in 1951; Wittkower was one of the founders of psychosomatic medicine and in 1955 set up the section of transcultural psychiatric studies as a cooperative venture between the departments of psychiatry and anthropology at McGill. Wittkower recruited Henry B. M. Murphy (1915–1987), who became head of the section after Wittkower retired in 1965. Heinz Lehmann (1911–1999), a member of the founding generation of psychopharmacology, had left Germany for Canada in 1937, becoming the clinical director of VPH in 1947; he was cross-appointed to psychiatry at McGill and later had an office at the Allan. (See Chlorpromazine; Antidepressant: imipramine.)
   This founding period came to an end when Cameron left in 1964 to return to Albany under something of a cloud because of internal political conflicts. He had founded what was to become the largest single training program in the world.

Edward Shorter. 2014.

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