“I teach Harvard students, brilliant people, and whatever reputation I have is largely based on the fact that I helped them write the books they write. Many of them became psychiatrists and psychologists. They are so brilliant, it is extraordinary, so much better read than I, and smarter than I.” (1990’s interview)
“We put great emphasis on this matter of patient’s emotions and especially their effects on us. In the earliest days of medical school, students learn, largely through the autopsy, to tolerate death, feces, intestines, fat: they gain an immunization against sights, sounds and smells abhorrent to the vast bulk of mankind, and can pass into the sick room with little hesitation. No preparation remotely so effective exist for the students’ first encounter with pathological emotions and ideas, phenomena equally disturbing to most of us. One learns in social life, to turn away from strong anxiety, sadness, furious anger or heavy does of sexual excitement. But these are the bread and butter of psychiatric practice; the psychiatrist can no more afford to faint at the sight of rage than the surgeon can at the sight of blood.
The clerkship is then the equivalent of the autopsy room in its immunizing function. There, students get what preparation they can for psychiatry’s sight and smells. We warn them sadness will be depressing, elation will amuse and distract them, sexual excitement will titillate, and that with enrage people they will want to fight and argue back…”
Excerpt from “Impact of Elective Curricula and Community “Responsibilities on Medical School Psychiatry” Seminars in Psychiatry Vol. 292 1970 Complete original paper below
Havens, L.L. Medical Schools Train Counselors to Serve the Mentally Ill” Rehabilitation Record, Vol 4, 1963. *
Muslin, Thureblad, Templeton, McGuire Eds. “The Evaluation of Clinical Performance Psychiatric Education1974*
Williams, G. “The Review of Western Reserve’s Experiment in Medical Education and Its Outcome” American Journal of Psychiatry Vol 139 1982*
Havens On Empathy
“I have used his insights daily for decades in dealing with disturbed fellow humans.
One treasure is that wonderful empathic direction to the therapist coming upon someone jumping up and down on one foot holding the other in front of a tipped over chair.
Leston told the therapist not to ask what happened; instead, stand next to the sufferer, kick the chair yourself, and say “what dumb son of a bitch lift that chair here? ”
R. Rynearson MD, Personal Correspondence 2014