In Praise of Tom Ban by Barry Blackwell


       As a colleague and fellow INHN editor Tom Ban and I talk twice weekly. Recently I became intrigued by mention of two of his postings on the website I was unfamiliar with. One was the very first book Tom published in 1964 after his residency, Conditioning and Psychiatry(Ban 2014). The second, posted on our website, was a Power Point presentation  converted into a lecture he presented on Grand Rounds  of  the Department of Psychiatry at Vanderbilt University in 2013 prior to becoming Editor of our website.

       In search of his book I visited Amazon and found a hard copy of the original for $165 but there had been subsequent re-publications. In 2017 Routledge, (Oxford UK and New York) with the addition of the word Behavior between Conditioning and Psychiatry. That was also the title of a soft cover in 2008 at the reasonable price of $30 published by a third publisher, Aldine Transactions (associated with Rutgers University). 

       Both the recent publishers credited Tom Ban with the copyright but neither had ever contacted him or provided any royalties.

       Conditioning and Psychiatry included a Forward by Horsley Gantt (Head of the Pavlovian Laboratory at Johns Hopkins University) and Tom’s own Preface which begins with a quotation from Pavlov, “Learn the A, B, C’s of science before attempting to ascend its heights. Never reach for the next step before having mastered the previous ones.”

       The book does exactly this in 11 Chapters and 236 pages, backed by a bibliography of 500 citations. It begins with Pavlov, concluding with the contemporary world of psychotherapy, behavior therapy and physical therapies (ECT, insulin coma, lobotomy and drug therapy).

       At the time of publication Tom was beginning a career long collaboration with Heinz Lehman, including the lead NIMH funded ECDEU program of the Network.

       The second INHN posting Neuropsychopharmacology and the Forgotten Language of Psychiatry(Ban 2013), tells the rest of the story.” It is presented within the framework of the past 200 years in the development of psychiatry. It begins with the discovery of the “psychic reflex” in the early 19th century and provides  an overview of the evolution of nosology from past to present up to and including DSM, WKL and CODE. It ends with a quotation from Charcot (!877), “Madness may be as old as mankind… nothing about it changes, it is we who change, as we learn to recognize what was formerly imperceptible.”

       This, remarkable and erudite synopsis, supported by more than 100 references is only 30 pages long.  Posted on INHN it has never been published in a journal where it would be a gift to every young psychiatrist preparing for board certification.


Ban TA. Conditioning and Psychiatry. January 30, 2014.

Ban TA. Neuropsychopharmacology and the Forgotten Language of Psychiatry. Madness: From Psychiatry to Neuronology. November 14, 2013.


November 12, 2020