INHN:Celebration of Max Fink’s 96th Birthday
Samuel Gershon on Max Fink


                I will allow myself to take a personal view of my relationship with Max over a long period of time.

            In 1963 I joined Max in St. Louis at the then new Missouri Institute of Psychiatry which was affiliated with the University of Missouri. Its program had a relationship with the all the state residency programs in the Missouri state hospitals.

            Max was the first Director of the Institute and by the time I arrived from Australia everything was in place:there were clinical research beds available  for use by investigators;there were wet labs; and we in the pharmacology division had excellent animal facilities

            Max and his colleagues had also established a Quantitative EEG facility. Although this form of measurement was pretty much in its infancy, interest in the facility spread pretty much around the world. It seemed to have the potential of great promise for studying the brain waves produced by therapeutic agents and their possible relationship with clinical effects or even assaying typical drug patterns. Some of the investigators used it to advocate clinical predictions based on quantitative analysis of wave patterns, yet this step may have needed more basic study before it was ready. As a result, it seemed to fall out of favor before a thorough evaluation of the basic steps had been established. However, I strongly believe that this was a most value formof study and of measurement of brain wave effects that could be used for clinical pharmacological studies and possible studies of clinical predictions of some clinical or class effects of the drugs studied. We did a study, with Max’s help, of chlorpromazine and anticholinergic hallucinogens and foundthat profound changes in the EEG occurred which seemed to correlate with the clinical picture: the patients quieted; the hallucinations stopped; and a light sleep-like state resulted.

            As Ned Shorter mentioned, Max was a devoted crusader in support of electro convulsive therapy (ECT) when appropriate. Over the past few months the press has reported the deaths of a number of famous people.We have no clinical details of their condition or treatment, but the reports do legitimately raise the question whether ECT was given.This is a worthy question as I am aware of facilities that do not teach about ECT and many have no facilities or trained staff to use it. 

            In addition to these activities Max was extremely dedicated to his work and responsibilities at this new facility. It was a new baby and needed a lot of nursing

            However, to move on to more personal issues. I came to join Max in 1963 from Australia with my wife and child. We were pretty much lost till Max and his wife Martha took overand managed our lives to see that we got set up in a house; they helped in every way possible to make our integration in the new world easy, painless and comfortable. Martha especially took over complete responsibility for looking after us for the whole time we were in St. Louis. After I left St. Louis and went to New York University we maintained our positive relationship with them both.  Max has always come to my aid when I needed consultation on a work-related conundrum.

            I want to wish Max a happy birthday and a busy and productive future.


January 17, 2019