Barry Blackwell: Autobiography

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Barry Blackwell


       Barry Blackwell was born British, raised in India, educated at boarding schools in both countries, and then at Cambridge University and Guy’s Hospital in England. He trained in psychiatry and psychopharmacology at the Maudsley Hospital and Institute of Psychiatry in London  under Sir Aubrey Lewis and obtained a doctoral degree in medicine and pharmacology from Cambridge University for his research on the interaction of MAOI anti-depressants and tyramine-containing foods. After graduation he worked with Michael Shepherd on the evaluation of lithium prophylaxis and then with the Maudsley Social Psychiatry Unit and David Goldberg on the first rating scale to measure mental illness in primary care, the General Health Questionnaire.

       Barry migrated to America in his early thirties, worked briefly as Director of Psychotropic Drug Research for a pharmaceutical company, returned to academic psychiatry and served as Chair of Psychiatry at two major medical schools with academic titles as Professor of Psychiatry, Medicine, Pharmacology and Behavioral Medicine. His major interests in psychopharmacology, medical education, homelessness and patient compliance resulted in more than 300 scientific articles, as well as editorials in leading scientific journals and several books, including Discoveries in Biological Psychiatry (With Frank Ayd).

       Retiring for the first time in 1998 Barry studied religion and philosophy for three years in a Catholic Seminary and engaged in several charitable and not-for-profit ventures before returning to work as the only psychiatrist in a women’s prison. In 2009 Barry quit clinical practice and began a second career as an amateur historian of psychiatry working first with Tom Ban, editor in chief of The Oral History Neuropsychopharmacology, in time for the 50th anniversary of the ACNP. In 2013 he became founding member of the International Neuropsychopharmacology Network ( responsible for biographies and controversies in the field.

       This book, Treating the Brain: An Odyssey, is compiled from material published on and Barry’s career memoir Bits and Pieces of a Psychiatrist’s Life. It compares and contrasts the fertile field of modern psychopharmacology (1949-1980) with a sterile and troubled modern era (1981-present). Barry, now 84, lives with his wife, Kathie Eilers, in  Milwaukee. They have four children or step-children and five grandchildren. Barry also writes poetry and is author of Naked Poems, a slender volume exploring different forms.


August 29, 2019