If your mental list of famous psychiatrists stops at Freud and Jung, it’s time to familiarize yourself with some of the great psychiatric professionals alive today. From researchers to chair members to forensic experts, today’s leading psychiatrists can wield a significant influence on modern society. There is no shortage of critical research or simmering controversy in the present-day realm of psychiatry, and our list includes some of the major players. Here, we introduce you to five of the most well-known psychiatrists of our time.
American psychiatrist Allen Frances is currently a professor emeritus at Duke University, where he previously served as chair of the department of psychiatry for the Duke University School of Medicine. Frances also held a chair position on the DSM-IV Task Force. The DSM, or Diagnostic and Statistic Manual of Mental Disorders, provides a standard criteria for the classification of mental disorders. After significant involvement with the third and fourth editions of the manual, Frances is now a leading opponent of proposed revisions to the fifth edition, speaking in a New York Times open editorial of his reluctant conclusion that the “[American Psychiatric] association should lose its nearly century old monopoly on defining mental illness.” Frances disagrees with expanding definitions of mental illness, which he argues would “medicalize normality” and lead to millions of people now classified as mentally healthy being diagnosed with a mental disorder.
A recognizable public face of psychiatry, Keith Ablow is an American psychiatrist, expert witness, best-selling author, Fox News contributing psychiatrist and former television personality. A supporter of insight-oriented psychotherapy, Ablow is also the co-founder of the New England Brain-Mind Institute, and in 2011 launched a life coaching team.
Ablow has privately practiced forensic, adult and adolescent psychiatry since 1996, and has testified as an expert witness in a number of high-profile cases, including those of Clark Rockefeller and Mary Winkler. He has also lectured on forensic psychiatry at the Tufts University School of Medicine. From June 2006 to June 2007, he hosted his own daily national television show, “The Dr. Keith Ablow Show.” His other ties to the news and entertainment industry include columnist positions for various newspapers, appearances on the Oprah Winfrey show, Howard Stern show, the Today Show and the O’Reilly Factor, and a commentator/analyst position for the Fox News Channel.
American psychiatrist Michael First specializes in diagnostic criteria for mental disorders. His achievements have included editing the DSM-IV-TR and serving as a consultant to the World Health Organization for the revision of ICD-11. First is currently a Professor of Clinical Psychiatry at Columbia University.
Educated at Princeton, the University of Pittsburgh and Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center, First is a frequent contributor to the literature and discussion on diagnostic controversies. He has written on depression and eating disorders, and coined the phrase “body integrity identity disorder” for the clinical desire for amputation or paralysis. First co-authored “Am I Okay? A Layman’s Guide to the Psychiatrist’s Bible” with fellow leading psychiatrist Allen Frances. He made media news when he provided an expert opinion during the trial of convicted Al Qaeda-conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui.
Now retired, Robert Spitzer was a major contributor to the modern classification system for mental disorders, and has been called one of the most influential psychiatrists of the 20th century. A member of the research faculty at the Columbia University Center for Psychoanalytic Training and Research, Spitzer was awarded the Thomas Salmon Medal from the New York Academy of Medicine for his contributions to the field of Psychology.
Spitzer is recognized for co-developing a computer program known Diagno I, which derives diagnoses based on a logical decision tree, the Mood Disorder Questionnaire used to diagnose bipolar disorder and the Patient Health Questionnaire, which can be used for self-diagnosis. He is also known for some controversial work on homosexuality.
American-Canadian psychiatrist Ray Blanchard was educated at the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Illinois, and did his post-doctoral research at Dalhousie University. He has served on the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health and APA DSM-IV Sub-Committee on Gender Identity Disorders. In 1995 he was named Head of Clinical Sexology Services in the Law and Mental Health Services of the CAMH, and is now a professor of psychiatry the University of Toronto. Blanchard is known for his research on the fraternal birth order effect theory of sexual orientation, on male-to-female gender dysphoria and on various paraphilias.