sábado, 1 de janeiro de 2011

Dr. Eugene Brody: A Remembrance

Escrevi esss artigo em homenagem ao meu professor de psiquiatria da Universidade de Maryland, USA que faleceu em 2010. Decidi não traduzi-lo e publica-lo aqui em inglês. Foi publicado no "Maryland Psychiatrist" de Dezembro de 2010

On March 13, 2010 we lost Prof. Eugene Brody. I first met him when I was starting my residency in July, 1961 at the Psychiatric Institute of the University of Maryland. He had just arrived as Chairman of the Department. For many years I had a close personal and professional contact with him. To this date I remain thankful for this because much of what makes me a psychiatrist and psychoanalyst I owe to him.

Not that he was an easy man to get along with. His uncanny ability to empathize with what was happening inside people’s minds sometimes made me a little afraid to come too close, especially in the earlier years. Dr. Brody, from my perspective, was always a seeker, a man after knowledge related to people, and in this endeavor he would not compromise. He was an excellent researcher, clinician and professor, a rare combination among psychiatrists. He was not tolerant of sloppy thinking and of beliefs that could not be tested by scientific reasoning. He always had the courage to question established and shared beliefs and this at times got him in troubles with some peers. As a consequence he did not always fit into professional organizations and for most of his life he remained a professional loner. He was not only interested in psychiatry and psychoanalysis, but also-- and this was quite important for him-- in the social sciences, sociology and anthropology.

Dr. Brody joined us in reading William Caudill's “The Psychiatric Hospital as a Small Society” as we worked on the inpatient service in my first year of residency. The notion that a psychiatric ward was a small society and that interactions among its people had an impact on patients’ behaviors became very clear to me. To this date, when I enter a psychiatric ward I start by scanning the whole organization from the Director/CEO down, before focusing on the patients’ behaviors and inner lives. It is sad that Behavioral Managed Care has dismantled this effort to create a milieu therapy conducive to patients’ recovery, transforming psychiatrists into “med-checkers”.

Being a searcher and not a believer, Dr. Brody created room at the Psychiatric Institute for everyone seeking knowledge about how people handle health and disease. This was done in an atmosphere of intellectual freedom, without dogma. He never expected that people would think like him. He just encouraged people to think. At the same time that we had seminars and case presentations with psychoanalysts, we also had research into neurochemistry and other dimensions related to human behavior, internal and external. Would you believe that we even had a philosopher around interacting with us residents (usually around lunches and coffee breaks)?

Because I was an immigrant I soon realized that Dr Brody was free from prejudices towards foreigners. From the beginning of our relationship he always made me feel like I belonged to his department .When talking with him, I never felt embarrassed by my South American accent. He was the same with other Residents from other countries. No wonder that he became well-known in other places, including Brazil, where he spent some time doing research on mental health and immigration.

In certain periods of my life I was lucky that I got help from Dr. Olive Smith and Dr. Francis McLaughlin from the Baltimore Psychoanalytic Institute. During these periods Dr. Brody remained supportive to me in a quite subtle way. Sometimes he would send me tickets for the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, on other occasions he would ask if I he could help me to move to better jobs, and on more than once occasion he invited me to spend Christmas Eves with him and his family.

I feel fortunate that in 1961, after doing an Internship at Mercy Hospital and two years' Residency in Internal Medicine at St. Agnes Hospital, I was accepted at the Psychiatric Institute as a Resident. Among other competent psychiatrists that taught me there, Dr. Brody set the tone and guided me into this difficult field. Throughout our lives I consulted him professionally when coming across clinical and theoretical issues that I was having difficulties understanding.

As we go through life we meet certain people that make a difference in shaping who we become. Dr. Eugene Brody is one of these persons. To a large extent he influenced my career as a person, psychiatrist and psychoanalyst. I am sure that he will remain with me the rest of my life.

Marcio V. Pinheiro, MD