Thomas A. Ban
Neuropsychopharmacology in Historical Perspective.

Lehmann Collection 9


Irwin J. Kopin’s comment on Heinz E. Lehmann*


       I first got to know Dr. Lehmann when I was medical student at McGill and have added a short comment based mainly on that time, as follows:

       What I remember best about Dr. Heinz Lehmann are the times that I, along with the other medical students at McGill University, spent during a rotation in Psychiatry with visits to the Verdun Protestant Hospital. This was in the spring of 1954 (Class of 1955) and was a weekly session in which we were supposed to see patients. Dr. Lehmann turned out to be a master educator. Each week he would have arranged for a single patient introduced to us and explain how we should converse with the patient and what we should observe in their behavior. The patients that he chose were so typical of the subtype of mental disorder, that even today I can recall each patient that he introduced to us and the kindly, friendly manner with which he presented the patient.

       I cannot forget the lady who danced into the room, flitted from one student to the next with comments about their hair, their ties and making us feel like we should enjoy, indeed over-enjoy her presence. Everyone agreed this was manic behavior. Another time he brought a young man who had obtained a PhD in Chemistry, but soon after had been found wandering in the street nude. When he was induced to us, his conversation was silly and distracted making no sense… hebephrenic. Another patient came into the room dressed appropriately in a suit carrying the daily newspaper and completely appropriate until we asked him why he was in the hospital. He told us about his wife who had controlled his thoughts by X-ray until he was forced to kill her… paranoid. Dr. Lehmann warned us never to turn our back on a patient with paranoid schizophrenia because they might pick up a heavy object and attack you.

       I have never forgotten the psychiatry that I learned for Dr. Lehmann. He had mentioned at that time that there were medicines becoming available that might help these sorts of patients but did not mention chlorpromazine. There have been tremendous advances in psychiatry and the subgroups of schizophrenia that we were taught about more than 60 years ago that are not presently fashionable. But the warm, empathetic and gentle manner of meeting with patients that Dr. Lehmann taught by example will never go out of fashion.

       I was privileged to be able to see him at meetings of the ACNP and at times remind him of those old days that I so appreciated.


*Adapted from Irwin J. Kopin’ Comment. biographies. February 4, 2016.


October 15, 2020