Torrey, E. Fuller 1937–

views updated

Torrey, E. Fuller 1937–

(Edwin Fuller Torrey)

PERSONAL: Born September 6, 1937, in Utica, NY; son of Edwin Fuller and Loretta Torrey; married Barbara Boyle, March 27, 1967; children: Michael, Martha. Education: Princeton University, A.B., 1959; McGill University, 1963; Stanford University, M.A., 1970.

ADDRESSES: Office—The Stanley Medical Research Institute, 8401 Connecticut Ave., Ste. 200, Chevy Chase, MD 20815.

CAREER: Residency in psychiatry at Stanford University School of Medicine; U.S. Public Health Service, staff, 1964–86; Peace Corps physician, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, 1964–66; National Institute of Mental Health, Washington, DC, special assistant to director, 1970–75; U.S. Indian Health Service, AL, chief of Pribilof Health Services, 1976–77; St. Elizabeth's Hospital, Washington, DC, staff psychiatrist, 1977–85; Stanley Medical Research Institute, Chevy Chase, MD, executive director, 1989–2003, associate director of Treatment Advocacy Center for laboratory research 1998–, president, 2003–. Albert Einstein College of Medicine, instructor, 1967; Uniformed Services University of the Health Services, professor of psychiatry, 1998–; George Mason University School of Law, adjunct professor, 1998–; Litchfield Lectureship with Title, Oxford University, 2003. Frequent guest on television and radio programs, including Oprah, 20/20, Dateline, Donahue, Geraldo, and 60 Minutes.

MEMBER: Society for Biological Psychiatry.

AWARDS, HONORS: Sol W. Ginsburg Fellowship, Group for Advancement of Psychiatry, 1969–71; Commendation Medals, U.S. Public Health Service, 1976 and 1985; Nomination for best biographical writing, National Books Critics' Circle, 1983, for The Roots of Treason: Ezra Pound and the Secret of St. Elizabeth's; Special Families Award, National Alliance for the Mentally Ill, 1984; Outstanding Professional Contribution Award, Alliance for the Mentally Ill of Maryland, 1984; Annual Award, Psychiatric Outpatient Centers of the Americas, 1986; National Institutes for Mental Health grant, 1986–92; National Caring Award, 1991; Nathaniel Winkelman Award, Belmont Behavioral Health, 1998; International Congress for Schizophrenia Award, 1999; Humanitarian Award, National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression, 1999; Irving Blumberg Human Rights Award, World Association for Psychosocial Rehabilitation, 2002; William C. Porter Lecture Award, Association of Military Surgeons of the United States, 2002; Cornerstone Award, National Alliance on Mental Illness, 2004; Anchor Mental Health Achievement Award, 2004.


(Editor) An Introduction to Health and Health Education in Ethiopia, Berhamena Selam Printing Press (Addis Ababa, Ethiopia), 1966.

The Mind Game: Witchdoctors and Psychiatrists, Emerson Hall (New York, NY), 1973, published as Witchdoctors and Psychiatrists, Harper (New York, NY), 1986.

(Editor, with Bertram S. Brown) International Collaboration in Mental Health, U.S. Government Printing Office (Washington, DC), 1973.

The Death of Psychiatry, Chilton (Radnor, PA), 1974.

Why Did You Do That?: Rainy Day Games for a Post-Industrial Society, Chilton (Radnor, PA), 1975.

Schizophrenia and Civilization, J. Aronson (New York, NY), 1980.

Surviving Schizophrenia: A Family Manual, Harper (New York, NY), 1983, 4th edition published as Surviving Schizophrenia: A Manual for Families, Consumers, and Providers, Quill (New York, NY), 2001, 5th edition, Collins (New York, NY), 2006.

The Roots of Treason: Ezra Pound and the Secret of St. Elizabeth's, McGraw (New York, NY), 1983.

(With Sidney M. Wolfe) Care of the Seriously Mentally Ill: A Rating of State Programs, Public Citizen Health Research Group (Washington, DC), 1986.

Nowhere to Go: The Tragic Odyssey of the Homeless Mentally Ill, Harper (New York, NY), 1988.

Freudian Fraud: The Malignant Effect of Freud's Theory on American Thought and Culture, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1992.

Frontier Justice: The Rise and Fall of the Loomis Gang, North Country (Utica, NY), 1992.

(With Ann E. Bowler, Edward H. Taylor, and Irving I. Gottesman) Schizophrenia and Manic-Depressive Disorder: The Biological Roots of Mental Illness as Revealed by the Landmark Study of Identical Twins, Basic Books (New York, NY), 1994.

Out of the Shadows: Confronting America's Mental Illness Crisis, Wiley (New York, NY), 1997.

Ride with the Loomis Gang, North Country (Utica, NY), 1997.

(With Judy Miller) The Invisible Plague: The Rise of Mental Illness from 1750 to the Present, Rutgers University Press (New Brunswick, NJ), 2001.

(With Michael B. Knable) Surviving Manic Depression: A Manual on Bipolar Disorder for Patients, Families, and Providers, Basic Books (New York, NY), 2001.

(With Robert H. Yolken) Beasts of the Earth: Animals, Humans, and Disease, Rutgers University Press (New Brunswick, NJ), 2005.

Surviving Prostate Cancer, Yale University Press (New Haven, CT), 2006.

Author of forewords to Tell Me I'm Here, by Anne Deveson, Penguin Australia, 1991, Penguin (New York, NY), 1992; and Fountain House: Portraits of Lives Reclaimed from Mental Illness, by Mary Flannery and Mark Glickman, Hazelden (Center City, MN), 1996. Also contributor to books, including Toward Century Twenty-One—Technology, Society, and Human Values, edited by S. Wallia, Basic Books (New York, NY), 1970; Pragmatic Religions: Contemporary Religious Movements in America, edited by I.I. Zaretsky and M.P. Leone, Princeton University Press (Princeton, NJ), 1974; Community Health and Mental Health Care Delivery for North American Indians, MSS Information Corp., 1974; The Disorders of the Schizophrenic Syndrome, edited by L. Bellak, Basic Books (New York, NY), 1979; The Neurology of Schizophrenia, edited by H.A. Nasrallah and D.R. Weinberger, Elsevier (Amsterdam, Netherlands), 1986; Psychiatry and Biological Factors, edited by E. Kurstak, Plenum (New York, NY), 1991; The Neurodevelopmental Basis of Schizophrenia, edited by J.L. Waddington and P.F. Buckley, R.G. Landes (Austin, TX), 1995; The Infectious Etiology of Chronic Diseases, edited by S.L. Knobler and others, National Academies Press (Washington, DC), 2004; and Insight and Psychosis: Awareness of Illness in Schizophrenia and Related Disorders, edited by X.F. Amador and A.S. David, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 2004.

Contributor to periodicals and journals, including Esquire, McGill Medical Journal, Journal of the American Medical Association, Ethiopian Medical Journal, Hospital Physician, American Journal of Public Health, Schizophrenia Bulletin, Lancet, American Journal of Psychiatry, Journal of Autism and Childhood Schizophrenia, Modern Medicine, British Journal of Psychiatry, Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, American Journal of Epidemiology, Biological Psychiatry, Archives of General Psychiatry, Washington Monthly, Clinical Neuropharmacology, Psychological Medicine, Hospital and Community Psychiatry, Schizophrenia Research, Psychiatric Genetics, Brain Research Bulletin, American Prospect, Emerging Infectious Diseases, Journal of Neural Transmission, BioTechniques, Medical Tribune, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, National Review, and Psychology Today.

Psychiatry Today, contributing editor, 1980–84. Editorial board member, Schizophrenia Research and Schizophrenia Bulletin. Torrey's works have been translated into Italian, Polish, Russian, Japanese, and Spanish.

SIDELIGHTS: Psychiatrist E. Fuller Torrey, who has been especially involved in researching and treating schizophrenia, is the author of numerous works of nonfiction dealing with mental illness. He is also the author of works dealing with medical, biographical, literary, and historical subjects. The Roots of Treason: Ezra Pound and the Secret of St. Elizabeth's, for one, is his account of poet Ezra Pound's controversial stay in a mental hospital from 1946 to 1958. In 1945, Pound was charged with treasonous conduct against the U.S. government for his pro-fascist radio broadcasts from Italy. According to Torrey, after Pound was returned to the United States, he faced criminal charges and risked a possible death sentence. But a team of psychiatrists led by Dr. Winifred Overholser, who was then superintendent at St. Elizabeth's Hospital in Washington, DC, conspired to save Pound by arguing that he was insane. Torrey relates that Pound complied with Overholser and—somewhat ludicrously—feigned madness. In 1946 he was diagnosed a paranoid and thus avoided trial. Instead, he entered St. Elizabeth's, where he enjoyed Overholser's protection for twelve years and continued writing, translating, and editing various works. In 1958, following pressure by Pound's friends and fellow poets, he was released, perhaps unwillingly, and he eventually returned to Italy.

Upon publication in 1983, The Roots of Treason earned Torrey praise as an exhaustive researcher and skillful biographer. A New Yorker critic wrote that Torrey's work is detailed and "balanced in its treatment of Pound's career, his character, and his literary output." Some reviewers protested that Torrey's allegations were largely unfounded. Kenneth S. Lyon, for example, wrote in Commentary that there was no evidence of Overholser's pre-trial conspiracy nor proof that Pound feigned insanity during four examinations. "In the process of pooh-poohing the significance of Pound's delusions," Lyon asserted, "Dr. Torrey reveals his own."

The Roots of Treason is not Torrey's only book in which he is critical of the psychiatric profession. In his first major work, The Mind Game: Witchdoctors and Psychiatrists, he compares modern psychiatric practices to those of primitive witchdoctors, and in The Death of Psychiatry he alleges that modern psychiatry has misdiagnosed maladjustment as mental illness. In the latter work, Torrey advocates support systems for the socially traumatized and recommends neurological help for the truly unbalanced.

Torrey's thirteenth book, 1992's Freudian Fraud: The Malignant Effect of Freud's Theory on American Thought and Culture, contends that Freud's theories are not grounded in scientific research and, along with broader psychoanalytic concepts added by his followers, have negatively affected Americans. Thomas Laqueur noted in the Los Angeles Times Book Review: "Torrey's current preoccupation with genetic influences on human behavior represents an abrupt shift from his 1974 book, The Death of Psychiatry. There Torrey blasted Freud for having succumbed—understandable, but regrettable—to medical psychiatry…. The 1974 Torrey actually downplayed the importance of nature, suggesting that 'a neo-education model, complete with behavioral science and tutor,' be employed to treat mental disorders."

Freudian Fraud received considerable negative feedback from critics. Many remarked that the author lacks solid knowledge of the subject matter and is full of biased, negative emotions that overshadow Freud's positive contributions. "Torrey caricatures psychoanalysis in this blistering, one-sided, sometimes shrill polemic," stated a Publishers Weekly reviewer. In the National Review, Joseph Adelson described Freudian Fraud as "a temper tantrum attacking a semi-mythical entity called 'Freudianism,' so offensive at moments as to offend even those of us long disenchanted with the psychoanalytic orthodoxy…. The book hits bottom in its persistent use of sexual and other gossip to explain why certain ideas were attractive to Torrey's intellectual adversaries, above all Margaret Mead, Ruth Benedict, Benjamin Spock, and Karl Menninger." In a similar vein, Laqueur remarked that the book contains "tendentious, paranoid bashing of culture, liberalism, women, alternative sexualities, and much more," and he believed Torrey "need not blame Freud … for everything." New York Times Book Review contributor Richard Wollheim called Torrey's reasoning "excessively simplistic" and charged that he was "deficient, as far as this book goes" in the "three distinct qualifications" needed to "write an adequate book about Freud": full knowledge of twentieth-century American intellectual history, tests of Freudian theories, and Freud's statements. Wollheim summarized Freudian Fraud: "It is the overwrought work of a man who has made no effort to discover whether he is entitled to believe what he wants to believe. It is the unabashed victory of sincerity over truthfulness."

Torrey's other writings include Why Did You Do That? Rainy Day Games for a Post-Industrial Society, a game-book in which he counsels readers on the importance of recognizing biological, sociological, and psychological factors in assessing human behavior. He also wrote Surviving Schizophrenia: A Family Manual, in which he supplements a detailed account of the disease's genetic origin and symptoms with testimony from schizophrenics. Of the latter, Psychology Today reviewer Brett Harvey commended Torrey for his "comprehensive, realistic and compassionate approach" to schizophrenia. Similarly, Surviving Manic Depression: A Manual on Bipolar Disorder for Patients, Families, and Providers, written with Michael B. Knable, is an "informative, clearly written, cogently presented advisor" for patients and those who care for them, according to William Beatty in Booklist. Torrey and Knable discuss changes in the classification and approach to manic depression, or bipolar disorder, over the years. They also discuss reasons why many people who suffer from the effects of the disorder have not been treated. The authors include material on the risk factors and causes of manic depression as well as details on the variety of treatments available. Beatty concluded that the work is an "important book that may be useful for years." Library Journal critic Mary Ann Hughes felt that Surviving Manic Depression is "the best general book available on the subject" of bipolar disorder and its treatment.

The Invisible Plague: The Rise of Mental Illness from 1750 to the Present, written with Judy Miller, is Torrey's "refreshing, thoroughly documented, cogent reply" to current interpretations and concepts of the "incidence and even the existence of insanity," commented Beatty in another Booklist review. The authors look back at a number of historical elements, including the treatments found in insane asylums; clinical accounts of mental health cases; political and social aspects of mental illness; and the history of diagnosis and treatment of mental illness in Canada, England, Ireland, and the United States. They also consider the reasons for the rate of growth of mental illnesses such as schizophrenia, depression, and bipolar disorder.

In Beasts of the Earth: Animals, Humans, and Disease, written with Robert H. Yolken, Torrey offers a "thoroughly researched and well-written account of the animal origins of many human diseases," remarked Nina Marano in Emerging Infectious Diseases. The authors look carefully at the history of human interactions with animals and how that relationship evolved through activities such as hunting, farming, and domestication. They discuss how animal-borne diseases, and diseases that originated in animals but mutated into human diseases, are passed along, how the market for pets and international consumption of livestock has created new transmission routes for diseases, and what scientists, epidemiologists, public health professionals, and other officials can do to stop the spread of diseases from both wild and domestic animals to human populations. Torrey and Yolken also speculate on how the fall of many history's great civilizations could have been precipitated by diseases spread by creatures at large in the country-sides and communities. Marano commented that the authors do an "excellent job of reminding us of the interconnectedness" found between humans and animals in the spread of disease. Sunil K. Sood, writing in Clinical Infectious Diseases, concluded that the book is a "good introduction to the daunting challenges our society still faces in the control of infectious diseases."



Contemporary Literary Criticism, Volume 34, Thomson Gale (Detroit, MI), 1985.


Booklist, December 15, 2001, William Beatty, review of The Invisible Plague: The Rise of Mental Illness from 1750 to the Present, p. 692; January 1, 2002, William Beatty, review of Surviving Manic Depression: A Manual on Bipolar Disorder for Patients, Families, and Providers, p. 787.

Clinical Infectious Diseases, April 1, 2006, Sunil K. Sood, review of Beasts of the Earth: Animals, Humans, and Disease, p. 1061.

Commentary, January, 1984, Kenneth S. Lyon, review of The Roots of Treason: Ezra Pound and the Secret of St. Elizabeth's, p. 68.

Emerging Infectious Diseases, July, 2005, Nina Marano, review of Beasts of the Earth, p. 1162.

Library Journal, January, 2002, Mary Ann Hughes, review of Surviving Manic Depression, P. 131.

Los Angeles Times Book Review, July 19, 1992, Thomas Laqueur, "Scapegoating Sigmund," review of Freudian Fraud: The Malignant Effect of Freud's Theory on American Thought and Culture, p. 4.

National Review, August 3, 1992, Joseph Adelson, review of Freudian Fraud, p. 39.

New Yorker, December 26, 1983, review of The Roots of Treason, p. 73.

New York Times Book Review, December 18, 1988, Tamar Lewin, review of Nowhere to Go: The Tragic Odyssey of the Homeless Mentally Ill, p. 14; June 28, 1992, Richard Wollheim, review of Freudian Fraud, p. 7; April 17, 1994, Natalie Angier, review of Schizophrenia and Manic-Depressive Disorder: The Biological Roots of Mental Illness as Revealed by the Landmark Study of Identical Twins, p. 12; January 19, 1997, Daniel J. Kevlis, review of Out of the Shadows: Confronting America's Mental Illness Crisis, p. 15.

Psychology Today, January, 1984, Brett Harvey, review of Surviving Schizophrenia: A Family Manual, p. 85.

Publishers Weekly, May 11, 1992, review of Freudian Fraud, p. 63.

SciTech Book News, June, 2005, review of Beasts of the Earth, p. 73.