Leff, Julian P(aul) 1938-

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LEFF, Julian P(aul) 1938-


Born July 4, 1938, in London, England; son of Samuel (a doctor) and Vera Miriam (Levy) Leff; married Joan Lillian Raphael (a professor), January 31, 1975; children: Michael, Alex, Jessa, Jonty, Adriel. Education: University of London, B.Sc., 1958; M.D., 1972. Hobbies and other interests: Squash, swimming, croquet, chess, piano.


Office—Institute of Psychiatry, De Crespigny Park, London SE5 8AF, England.


Maudsley Hospital, London, England, honorary consulting physician, 1973—; London School of Hygiene, honorary senior lecturer, 1974-89; MRC Social and Community Psychiatric Unit, London, assistant director, 1974-89, director, 1989-95; Institute of Psychiatry, London, clinical sub-dean, 1974-89, professor of social and cultural psychiatry, 1987—; Team for Assessment of Psychiatric Services, London, director, 1985—.


Royal College of Psychiatry (fellow), Public Health Medicine, Royal College of Physicians, National Schizophrenia Fellowship, SANE, Richmond Fellowship.


Burgholzli Award, 1999, for outstanding contributions to psychiatry; Starkey Prize, Royal Society of Medicine.


(With Steven R. Hirsch) Abnormalities in Parents of Schizophrenics: A Review of the Literature and an Investigation of Communication Defects and Deviances, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1975.

Psychiatric Examination in Clinical Practice, Blackwell Scientific Publications (Oxford, England), 1978.

(With Christine Vaughn) Expressed Emotion in Families, Guilford Press (New York, NY), 1985.

Psychiatry around the Globe: A Transcultural View, Dekker (New York, NY), 1988.

Family Work for Schizophrenia, 1992.

(Editor, with D. Bhugra) Principles of Social Psychiatry, Blackwell Publishing (Oxford, England), 1993.

(Editor) Care in the Community: Illusion or Reality?, Wiley (Chichester, England), 1997.

The Unbalanced Mind, Columbia University Press (New York, NY), 2001.

Has also contributed more than 200 articles in his field to magazines and scholarly journals.


Julian P. Leff has spent his entire career in the field of medicine and psychiatry, and is highly respected in international professional circles for his research. Leff's The Unbalanced Mind challenges current thinking by suggesting that psychiatric disorders are determined not only by genetics, but also by social environment.

Psychiatrists through the ages have debated the roles of genetics and personal experience in the development of mental disorders. Freud claimed that although heredity predisposes some people to neuroses, it could not entirely account for all the symptoms his patients displayed. Today, many experts argue that advances in genetic research will prove that disorders such as schizophrenia and bipolar depression are attributed to DNA and the brain's biochemistry. Leff disagrees, and The Unbalanced Mind is his discussion and assessment of the nature of psychiatric disorders.

Decades of research led Leff to the conclusion that, in addition to genetics, mental imbalance is influenced by cultural, socioeconomic, and political factors. He argues that the severity of depression, anxiety and schizophrenia can be lessened by supportive, uncritical relationships with partners and friends. In the same vein, emotional relationships with family members influence the course of a number of psychiatric conditions. His research also suggests that early separation from parents is a possible contributor to schizophrenia.

The book paints a relatively hopeful picture for those individuals who suffer from disorders such as schizophrenia and depression by making treatment more accessible and all-inclusive. In addition to providing a clear picture on the how's and why's of diagnosis and treatment, Leff examines what is at the root of psychiatric disorders.

The Unbalanced Mind is Leff's first book to analyze the environmental factors of psychiatric disorders, but it is far from being his first book concerning psychiatry. In 1997 he edited Care in the Community: Illusion or Reality?, a compilation of professional essays based on an eleven-year study of the history of psychiatric care in the United Kingdom and the West. The study was implemented upon the closing of Friern and Claybury hospitals, two British mental-health facilities. Leff and his colleagues studied the resettlement of these patients, and Care in the Community addresses issues such as patient management and outcomes, staff training, and community attitudes. The book dispelled many myths concerning community care and offered essential guidelines for the ongoing development of community services.

Whereas The Unbalanced Mind examines the effect of environmental factors on psychiatric disorders, 1993's Principles of Social Psychiatry, which Leff co-edited with D. Bhugra, assesses the social consequences of mental imbalances. The book is another compilation of essays by psychiatric experts, all but one of them from the United Kingdom. British Medical Journal reviewer Hugh Freeman called it "a major contribution to the literature."



American Journal of Psychiatry, April, 1994, Saxby Pridmore, review of Family Work for Schizophrenia: A Practical Guide, 2nd edition, p. 613; February, 1995, Myrna M. Weissman, review of Principles of Social Psychiatry, p. 290.

American Scientist, November-December, 2002, Arthur Kleinman, review of Care in the Community: Illusion or Reality?, p. 569.

British Journal of Social Work, April, 1998, Glenys Jones, review of Care in the Community, pp. 295-297.

British Medical Journal, July 17, 1993, Hugh Freeman, review of Principles of Social Psychiatry, p. 211; August 2, 1997, Leila Lessof, review of Care in the Community, p. 319.

Community Care, October 16, 1997, Jill Manthorpe, review of Care in the Community, pp. 29-30.

International Journal of Social Psychiatry, summer, 1993, Jerome Carson, review of Family Work for Schizophrenia, p. 154.

Library Journal, November 15, 2001, E. James Lieberman, review of The Unbalanced Mind, p. 86.

Man, December, 1990, Roland Littlewood, review of Psychiatry around the Globe: A Transcultural View, pp. 720-721.

Publishers Weekly, October 1, 2001, review of The Unbalanced Mind, p. 47.

Times Literary Supplement, January 23, 1998, Melanie Phillips, review of Care in the Community, p. 9.


Columbia University Web site,http://www.columbia.edu/ (January 13, 2002), review of The Unbalanced Mind.

Medirect,http://www.medirect.com/ (April 10, 2002), review of Principles of Social Psychiatry.

Upstream,http://www.mugu.com/pipermail/upstream/ (August 24, 2001), Robert L. Gleiser, Psychopathology: Environment Key to Understanding? *