Landy, Eugene E. 1934-2006

views updated

Landy, Eugene E. 1934-2006
(Eugene Ellsworth Landy)


See index for CA sketch: Born November 26, 1934, in Pittsburgh, PA; died of respiratory complications resulting from lung cancer, March 22, 2006, in Honolulu, HI. Psychologist and author. Landy was a controversial psychologist who was accused of manipulating his most famous client, Beach Boys band leader Brian Wilson. Drifting somewhat in his early life, Landy dropped out of school and worked a variety of jobs, including as a radio producer. Moving to Los Angeles, he went back to school at Los Angeles City College, where he studied chemistry. He then followed his psychology professor-mother's lead to study that field at California State University. He completed a B.A. in 1964, then went on to graduate school at the University of Oklahoma. Here he finished his master's in 1967 and a doctorate the next year. During his postgraduate work, Landy was greatly influenced by Frederick Stoller, whose group therapy sessions gave Landy the idea for his twenty-four-hour approach. Lecturing at the University of Southern California, where he was also the director of the Youth Culture Seminar Center for Training and Development, Landy developed an expertise in treating people with drug addictions as well as severe psychoses. He set up a private practice in Beverly Hills, where he started attracting celebrity patients, including Rod Steiger and Alice Cooper. His twenty-four-hour approach meant just that: the psychologist, along with staff members at times, would become a full-time part of patients' lives, controlling their diets, keeping them away from drugs and other harmful habits. When Brian Wilson became Landy's patient, the brilliant musician and songwriter was a complete mess. Drugs such as LSD and heroin had made him severely paranoid, and his fears kept him from bathing, restricted him to his bed, and caused Wilson to balloon to three hundred pounds. As with his other patients, Landy inserted himself into Wilson's life, gaining his confidence and seeming to have success with the singer. Wilson recovered enough to rejoin his band in a 1976 performance. However, Wilson's family felt that Landy was taking advantage of the singer, charging him exorbitant fees and becoming too much a part of his life. Under pressure, Landy agreed to stop his program of treatments, but Wilson relapsed into illness. The psychologist was invited back, and he treated Wilson from 1983 to 1986. Wilson attributed Landy's help to his second recovery, which resulted in his starting a solo career in the late 1980s. Back in Wilson's life, Landy worked as executive producer and even cowriter of some of Wilson's songs. Fellow songwriter Gary Usher reported to the authorities that Landy was manipulating Wilson again and controlling the artist's life completely. Landy's methods came under scrutiny, this time by the California Board of Medical Quality Assurance, which accused him of negligence in a number of incidents, not all of which involved Wilson. Landy admitted to improperly dispensing drugs to one patient and agreed to not practice for two years. However, he still associated with Wilson and helped with the 1991 album Sweet Insanity. Wilson's family stepped in and finally broke the two apart. Landy moved to Hawaii, where he spent the rest of his life. Despite all the accusations against Landy, Wilson himself expressed his gratitude to the psychologist and attributed the psychologist's work to his recovery. Landy was the author of The Underground Dictionary (1971), and contributed to or edited other works as well.



Chicago Tribune, April 1, 2006, section 2, p. 11.

Los Angeles Times, March 29, 2006, p. B10.

New York Times, March 30, 2006, p. A24.

Washington Post, April 2, 2006, p. C9.