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Paul McHugh

Institutional affiliation: 1975–Present

Paul McHugh

Paul McHugh, accompanied by a cadre of talented young psychiatrists who had worked with him in New York and Oregon, was in his early 40s when he was selected to fill the Phipps chair of psychiatry. It is perhaps a tribute to McHugh's qualities as a leader that so many academically inclined residents who trained in his department have wanted to stay on as faculty until they retired, left academia for other pursuits, or were offered their own departments to run at other teaching hospitals.

McHugh ran the department during a tumultuous time in psychiatry, when the Freudians' dogmatic focus on inner conflicts faded in interest relative to the equally single-minded interest in identifying disorders that could be treated using the growing arsenal of psychiatric medications. Throughout his long career he has fought fads and decried factionalism and, in his seminal work with Philip Slavney, The Perspectives of Psychiatry, offered a vision that is dogmatic only in its insistence that no one method can capture all that is salient about a patient's problems.

Depending on ones perspective, Hopkins psychiatry has avoided the conceptual weaknesses of mainstream psychiatry; or else it has remained stubbornly eccentric in its refusal to get with the program. The Phipps Clinic and the heirs of Meyer remain well poised as ever to offer psychiatry a pragmatic approach whenever the winds shift and mainstream psychiatry capsizes under the weight of its dogmas, as it has before.

Dean MacKinnon, M.D.

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