In Memoriam: Gene L. Usdin, MD (1922-2009)

June 1, 2009

We at Psychiatric Times wish to note, with great sadness, the passing of our colleague and editorial board member, Dr Gene Usdin, at the age of 87.

We at Psychiatric Times wish to note, with great sadness, the passing of our colleague and editorial board member, Dr Gene Usdin, at the age of 87. Gene was affiliated with Psychiatric Times since its founding by Dr John L. Schwartz more than 25 years ago. According to John, Gene "took an intense interest" in the then-fledgling publication. In more recent years, Gene had served as the book review editor for this journal.

According to the Times-Picayune's obituary notice, Dr Usdin served in the US Navy, and received his education at Tulane University. He was a member of the American College of Psychiatrists; the American, Southern, and Louisiana Psychiatric Associations; and numerous other organizations. Gene was also an early civil rights activist and started the first community mental health center in New Orleans. He was senior psychiatrist emeritus at the Ochsner Clinic in New Orleans.

Of course, these bare biographical facts can't capture the energy and breadth of Gene Usdin-nor do they encompass his protean interests and writings. Gene was one of the first American psychiatrists to describe, in 1960, the then-novel anxiolytic, chlordiazepoxide (Librium). A decade later, he was writing on "civil disobedience and urban revolt" in the American Journal of Psychiatry. Among his other interests were the assessment of the suicidal patient, treatment planning in psychiatry, and many aspects of forensic psychiatry. In the 1980s, Gene co­authored several articles with our own Psychiatric Times columnist, Dr Jerry M. Lewis, and the duo also cowrote the textbook, Psychiatry in General Medical Practice, in 1979.

Gene was an encouraging and inspiring presence during the early years of my career, and he will be greatly missed by friends, family, and colleagues. Memorials in honor of Dr Usdin may be made to Second Harvest of Greater New Orleans and Acadiana; the Usdin Family Judeo-Christian Lectureship Fund at Temple Sinai (6227 St Charles Avenue, New Orleans); or Cecile's Crepe Myrtle Grove of the Audubon Nature Institute. To sign and view the Family Guestbook, you can visit http://www.lakelawnmetairie.com.

 

-Ronald Pies, MD, Editor in Chief