Alan A. Stone, 92 years old, passed away; Challenging use of psychiatry in public policy

Alan A. Stone, an iconoclastic scholar who used his two tenures at Harvard’s law and medical schools to strongly influence the development of psychiatry for half a century. passed, passed away on January 23 at his home in Cambridge, Mass. He was 92 years old.

His son Douglas said the cause was laryngeal cancer.

Dr. Stone trained as a psychiatrist and a psychoanalyst and began teaching at Harvard Law School in the late 1960s, just when the backgrounds of both fields were being thoroughly studied.

He is at the forefront of questions about how psychiatry is used as a tool of public policy; For example, he criticized the role of psychiatrists in legislation banning abortion based on claims about the mental health of women, and in the involuntary commitment of millions of Americans to psychiatric institutions. labour.

As psychiatrists began to build a career as an adept witness in criminal trials, he antagonized him by opposing the method and by rejecting his own position. me. That didn’t stop him from becoming president of the American Psychiatric Association in 1979, a post in which, among other things, he guided the decision to remove homosexuality from the list of disorders. Occupational psychosis.

Despite not having a law degree, Dr. Stone is considered by many to be one of the finest and most popular professors in Harvard’s law faculty. He often teaches courses with criminal attorney Alan M. Dershowitz, on topics ranging from criminal madness to Shakespeare.

“They are this perfect yin and yang,” former New York City school principal Joel Klein, who took one of their courses as a law student, said in a past interview. phone. “Dershowitz is doing what every good professor at Harvard Law School does, emphasizing rationality, and what Stone is doing is saying, ‘That’ll get you part of the way, but X doesn’t. star?'”

Many former students, including Mr. Klein, said that Dr. Stone was not only an exemplary teacher but also a profound influence on their careers, precisely because his approach was different from the traditional thinking. legal status of other lecturers. His colleagues tend to agree.

“For him, the world was never right or wrong,” Mr. Dershowitz said. “It’s always ‘why?'”

In part because of his ability to think critically and critically, the Department of Justice invited Dr. Stone to join a multidisciplinary panel that looked into the 1993 raid by federal agents on a property near Waco. , Texas, which was occupied by a religious sect called the Branch Davidians. Four agents and 76 members of the cult were killed, and Dr. Stone’s panel was tasked with assessing whether the tragedy could have been avoided.

But very early on, Dr. Stone believed that their job was essentially to stamp the government’s self-rejection assessment. He publicly criticized the Department of Justice when it refused to provide him with classified material, and he refused to sign the final review until he was allowed to submit his own dissent report. .

He remained a vocal critic of the government throughout the 1990s, and in 1999 he called for the surviving Branch Davidians, some of whom had been sentenced to prison, to be pardoned.

He wrote in The Wall Street Journal that year: “The Branch Davidians are more victims than perpetrators.

Dr. Stone made more enemies in 1995 when he declared that Freudian psychoanalysis was no longer useful as a science and was best relegated to the humanities, where it could be used to evaluate the arts.

“Psychoanalysis, both in theory and practice, is an art form,” he said in a speech before the American Academy of Psychoanalysis. “I don’t think psychoanalysis is an appropriate form of treatment.”

Although the legion of psychoanalysts is no exception, for Dr. Stone, that assessment is not offensive – he considers art and psychiatry inextricably linked and mutually supportive. In addition to teaching classes in law and literature, he spent many years a film critic for the Boston Reviewused his expertise to tease films as disparate as “Million Dollar Baby” (2004), which he considers a tale of the morality of euthanasia, and “The Tree of Life” ” (2011), which he praised for Oedipal’s treatment of conflicts.

He later still decried his profession for being complicit in the so-called war on terror under George W. Bush, when psychiatrists were recruited during “enhanced interrogation” sessions. It’s like torture, says Dr. Stone.

“What American law and American psychiatrists and psychologists need to do now,” he wrote. in the New York Times in 2005“To reassert our basic standards of decent and ethical behavior, norms that seem to have collapsed in our response to 9/11.”

Alan Abraham Stone was born on August 15, 1929 in Boston. His father, Julius, is a lawyer, and his mother, Betty (Pastan) Stone, is a homemaker. All four of his grandparents were Jewish immigrants from Lithuania.

Along with his son Douglas, he is survived by his mate, Laura Maslow-Armand; another son, David; six grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren. His wife, Sue (Smart) Stone, died in 1996. His daughter, Karen Stone Zieve, died in 1988.

His parents led a liberal family, accepting Jewish refugees in the 1930s while also overcoming anti-Semitism; Despite his obvious qualifications, his father struggled to obtain a low-ranking magistrate post.

He attended Boston Latin School and Harvard, where he majored in social relations. He also plays the right man on the soccer team; Among his teammates on the 1947 roster was Robert F. Kennedy.

He graduated in 1950 and received his medical degree from Yale in 1955. He was a resident at McLean Hospital in Belmont, Mass., a suburb of Boston, and trained in psychoanalysis at the Boston Psychoanalytic Society and Institute. .

At one point, he made the exception by refusing to testify as an expert witness. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy held a “trial” for Hamlet in 1994, on the premise that he had survived the play’s bloody ending and is now accused of murdering Polonius, the counselor. of his uncle.

The question, as Justice Kennedy formulated it, is not whether Hamlet killed Polonius – that is clear in the play – but whether he committed the crime by reason of insanity. Mr. Klein, a former student of Dr. Stone, was working in the White House at the time, and he asked his former professor to serve as an expert witness for the prosecution.

The mock trial was conducted several times (in most cases, the jury was deadlocked), including in 1996 at Boston University.

When asked at that event whether he was familiar with the “file” in the case – i.e. the play itself – Dr. Stone replied, “Yes, and I agree with justice that it was written.” very nice.” Alan A. Stone, 92 years old, passed away; Challenging use of psychiatry in public policy

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