Shapiro, Dan(iel) 1966-

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SHAPIRO, Dan(iel) 1966-


Born 1966; married; wife's name, Terry (a nurse and nursing director). Education: Graduated from Vassar College; University of Florida, Ph.D.; attended Harvard Medical School.


Office—University of Arizona, Psychiatry/Integrative Medicine, Box 245002, Tucson, AZ 85724-5002; fax: 520-626-2004. E-mail—[email protected]


Author, public speaker, and educator. University of Arizona, Tucson, associate professor of clinical psychiatry and psychology, and assistant professor of psychiatry, psychology, and internal medicine at College of Medicine. Member of professional staff of Arizona Cancer Center. Commentator for National Public Radio's All Things Considered.


Research awards, American Psychological Association; University of Arizona clinical teaching awards; Endowed fellowship in medical crisis counseling, Boston Children's Hospital, Dana Farber Cancer Institute, and Brigham and Women's Hospital.


Mom's Marijuana: Insights about Living, Harmony Books (New York, NY), 2000, published as Mom's Marijuana: Life, Love, and Beating the Odds, Vintage (New York, NY), 2001.

Delivering Doctor Amelia: The Story of a Gifted Young Obstetrician's Mistake and the Psychologist Who Helped Her, Harmony Books (New York, NY), 2003.

Contributor to periodicals such as Journal of the American Medical Association, Ethics and Behavior, Health Psychology, and the American Psychological Association Monitor.

Shapiro's works have been translated into Spanish, Dutch, Italian, and Portuguese.


Psychologist Dan Shapiro is an associate professor of clinical psychiatry and psychology at the University of Arizona. Shapiro is also a cancer survivor who has endured the unrelenting pain, nausea, and other side effects of chemotherapy and aggressive cancer treatments. In his memoir, Mom's Marijuana: Insights about Living Shapiro offers a collection of personal observations and essays that recount his harrowing five-year span of diagnoses, despair, medical treatments, and recovery from Hodgkin's disease.

Diagnosed with the disease at age twenty, while still a student at Vassar College, Shapiro endured some of the harshest treatments available, including chemotherapy, bone marrow transplant, surgery, and radiation. To help fight the severe nausea and vomiting that accompanied chemotherapy, a friend suggested that Shapiro smoke marijuana, a home-grown solution that has long been known to alleviate treatment side effects in cancer patients. When he suggested this possibility to his mother, she was at first sternly against it, vigorously holding on to an anti-drug stance no matter the consequences. But as time went on and as she saw the genuine suffering her son was experiencing, her attitude toward medical marijuana use changed dramatically. She became determined to help her son in all possible ways. A master gardener, she surreptitiously planted and tended ten luxurious marijuana plants among her sunflowers. Despite the book's title, Shapiro does not use the book as a pulpit for advocating medical marijuana usage, instead treating his use of cannabis as another ongoing part of his long ordeal. As a testament to Shapiro's determination and resilience, he earned his Ph.D. at the University of Florida while simultaneously undergoing a five-year-long treatment regimen.

Reviewing Shapiro's memoir for the Library Journal, Eris Weaver believed that the book is "most useful for its depiction of living with a life-threatening disease at a young age." Isabel Cuadrado, reviewing a Spanish translation of the book in School Library Journal, remarked that "Shapiro's youthful tone and great sense of humor … do come through in a very natural way, making this a gripping, optimistic, and inspiring read." "Neither preachy nor prescriptive, but always candid, Shapiro delivers a pithy memoir about almost dying young," the Publishers Weekly reviewer commented.

Shapiro's next book, Delivering Doctor Amelia: The Story of a Gifted Young Obstetrician's Mistake and the Psychologist Who Helped Her, recounts Shapiro's role reversal into caregiver. As a psychologist, he specializes in treating medical professionals, and in Delivering Doctor Amelia he takes on the case of a young obstetrician who may have committed a medical error that caused a child to be born with cerebral palsy. Amelia Sorvino (referred to under a pseudonym to protect her privacy) is considered a brilliant physician, popular with patients and other members of the medical staff where she practices. In one of her cases, the patient wanted a natural delivery, which caused Sorvino to wait too long to perform a Caesarian section after complications arose. The delay may or may not have been responsible for the child's cerebral palsy. Sorvino was sued for malpractice, and despite other elements of a promising career, she renounced medicine and abruptly ceased practicing.

Delivering Doctor Amelia details more than three dozen therapy sessions between Shapiro and Sorvino. He describes the often tumultuous sessions, including his own reactions to Sorvino and her situation—sometimes angry, always compassionate—and his patient's continuing slide into depression and toward suicide. Finally, Sorvino reaches the turning point that allows her to begin her recovery, to personally apologize to the mother of the child, and to recover her identity as a doctor and as a person. "No need to be either doctor or patient to appreciate the situation, but this revealing narrative of self-discovery will have special appeal for therapists," observed a Kirkus Reviews critic. A Publishers Weekly reviewer called Delivering Doctor Amelia a "very sensitive and engrossing medical memoir," while Library Journal reviewer James Swanton recommended the book "for its naked revelations of the medical and psychiatric professions and its truths about the human condition, our frailties, and our vulnerabilities." The book is "an excellent presentation of both the patient's and the therapist's experience of psychotherapy," commented Judith A. Sigmund in the Journal of the American Medical Association. "If the reader can stay the course," Sigmund concluded, "the last half [of the book] offers astute observations and reflections on how the culture of medicine can work against physicians in their attempts to deal with natural human error and bring true humanness to their work."



Booklist, Gilbert Taylor, review of Mom's Marijuana: Insights about Living, p. 46.

Journal of the American Medical Association, March 24-March 31, 2004, Judith A. Sigmund, review of Delivering Doctor Amelia: The Story of a Gifted Young Obstetrician's Mistake and the Psychologist Who Helped Her, p. 1508.

Kirkus Reviews, May 1, 2003, review of Delivering Doctor Amelia, p. 666.

Library Journal, November 15, 2000, Eris Weaver, review of Mom's Marijuana, p. 90; June 15, 2003, James Swanton, review of Delivering Doctor Amelia, p. 93.

Publishers Weekly, September 11, 2000, review of Mom's Marijuana, p. 77; May 12, 2003, review of Delivering Doctor Amelia, p. 53.

School Library Journal, August, 2002, Isabel Cuadrado, review of Mom's Marijuana, p. S44.


Dan Shapiro's Home Page, (November 18, 2004).

University of Arizona Department of Psychiatry Web site, (November 18, 2004), "Daniel Shapiro."*