Resolution #6: Remembering Our Colleagues - A Eulogy for an Iconoclastic Psychiatrist, Gordon Warme, MD

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Celebrating the life of Gordon Warme, MD.

Gordon Warme

PSYCHIATRIC VIEWS ON THE DAILY NEWS

IN MEMORIAM

Yesterday was Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. There is little question that King was a religious and spiritual iconoclast who challenged the country to become more antiracist, as well as to solve other social problems.

Perhaps in some way, the Canadian psychiatrist Gordon Warme, MD, could be considered an iconoclastic psychiatrist, as he challenged routine psychiatric practice. Not particularly popular among mainstream psychiatrists, he had a loyal following of patients and some psychiatric residents in training. He generally disagreed with any biological basis to psychosis and the use of medication, and seemed to prefer looser boundaries with patients.

He was a prolific writer and one of the rare ones to write for Mad in America. Self-disclosure: I was one, too. On April 20, 2017, he wrote about his ideas in the article “What if the Folly is in Us, too?”1 Many in our field were reminded of the American psychiatrist Thomas Szasz, MD. He seemed to think of himself as a guru, and described his ideas and patient care in his 2003 autobiography, The Cure of Folly: A Psychiatrist’s Cautionary Tale.2

Despite his iconoclastic ideas, he trained and served in mainstream organizations. He trained at the Menninger’s Clinic, was a long-term faculty member at the University of Toronto, and was a past president of the Canadian Psychoanalytic Society.

Whatever colleagues and I may question about his theories, ideas, and practices, they can stimulate us to reconsider more routine psychiatric viewpoints. For that, as with Dr Szasz, we have to be grateful to Dr Warme, who died at the age of 90 in June 2023, and also for all our collegial ancestors who have benefitted psychiatry.

Dr Moffic is an award-winning psychiatrist who specialized in the cultural and ethical aspects of psychiatry and is now in retirement and retirement as a private pro bono community psychiatrist. A prolific writer and speaker, he has done a weekday column titled “Psychiatric Views on the Daily News” and a weekly video, “Psychiatry & Society,” since the COVID-19 pandemic emerged. He was chosen to receive the 2024 Abraham Halpern Humanitarian Award from the American Association for Social Psychiatry. Previously, he received the Administrative Award in 2016 from the American Psychiatric Association, the one-time designation of being a Hero of Public Psychiatry from the Speaker of the Assembly of the APA in 2002, and the Exemplary Psychiatrist Award from the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill in 1991. He is an advocate and activist for mental health issues related to climate instability, physician burnout, and xenophobia. He is now editing the final book in a 4-volume series on religions and psychiatry for Springer: Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, Christianity, and now The Eastern Religions, and Spirituality. He serves on the Editorial Board of Psychiatric Times.

 

References

1. Warme G. what if the folly is in us, too? Mad in America. April 20, 2017. Accessed January 16, 2024. https://www.madinamerica.com/2017/04/what-if-the-folly-is-in-us-too/

2. Warme G. The Cure of Folly: A Psychiatrist's Cautionary Tale. ECW Press; 2003.

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