Wechsler, Henry 1932-

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WECHSLER, Henry 1932-

PERSONAL: Born August 16, 1932, in Warsaw, Poland; naturalized U.S. citizen; son of William and Lucy (Fryd) Wechsler; married Joan Goldstein, October 16, 1955; children: Stephen Bruce, Pamela Jane, Peter Thomas. Education: Washington and Jefferson College, A.B. (summa cum laude), 1953; Harvard University, M.A., 1955, Ph.D., 1957.

ADDRESSES: Home—148 Puritan Dr., Quincy, MA 02169-1739. Office—Department of Society, Human Development, and Health, Harvard University, Kresge Building, 7th Floor, 677 Huntington Ave., Boston, MA 02115; fax: 617-432-3123. E-mail—hwechsle@hsph. harvard.edu.

CAREER: Social psychologist and lecturer. Research fellow in psychology, U.S. Public Health Service, 1957–58; Clark University, Worcester, MA, research associate and assistant professor, 1958–59; Massachusetts Mental Health Center, Boston, MA, research social psychologist, 1959–65; Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, research associate in psychology, department of psychiatry, Medical School, 1960–66, in department of epidemiology, School of Public Health, 1963–66, lecturer in social psychology in departments of health services administration and behavioral sciences, School of Public Health, 1966–, College Alcohol Studies Program, director, 1992–. Medical Foundation, Inc., Boston, MA, research director, 1965–88. SocioTech Systems, president, 1969–74. Simmons College, School of Social Work, lecturer in residence, 1969–79, adjunct professor, 1980–84; Boston University, School of Public Health, adjunct professor, 1979–80.

MEMBER: American Psychological Association (fellow), American Association for the Advancement of Science, American Sociological Association (fellow), American Public Health Association (fellow), Massachusetts Psychological Association (fellow), Massachusetts Public Health Association, Phi Beta Kappa.


(Editor with G. Grosser and M. Greenblatt) The Threat of Impending Disaster: Contributions to the Psychology of Stress, M.I.T. Press (Cambridge, MA), 1965.

(Editor with L. Solomon and B. M. Kramer) Social Psychology and Mental Health, Holt (New York, NY), 1970.

New York State Dental Manpower Study, University of the State of New York (Albany, NY), 1971.

(Editor with J. H. Noble, Jr., M. E. LaMontagne, and M. A. Noble) Emergency Medical Services: Selected Bibliography, Behavioral Publications (New York, NY), 1974.

Handbook of Medical Specialties, Human Sciences (New York, NY), 1976.

(Compiler with H. Reinherz and D. D. Dobbin) Social Work Research in the Human Services, Human Sciences (New York, NY), 1976, 2nd edition, 1981.

(Editor with J. Gurin and G. F. Cahill) The Horizons of Health, Harvard University Press (Cambridge, MA), 1977.

(Editor with A. Kibrick) Explorations in Nursing Research, Human Sciences (New York, NY), 1979.

(With L. J. Calisti and J. Silversin) Handbook of Dental Specialties, Arandel Publishing (Wellesley, MA), 1979.

(Editor) Minimum Drinking Age Laws: An Evaluation, Lexington Books (Lexington, MA), 1980.

(Editor with R. W. Lamont-Havers and G. F. Cahill) The Social Context of Medical Research, Ballinger (Cambridge, MA), 1981.

(With B. Gale) Medical School Admissions: A Strategy for Success, Ballinger (Cambridge, MA), 1982.

(With Bernice Wuethrich) Dying to Drink: Confronting Binge Drinking on College Campuses, Rodale (Emmaus, PA), 2002.

Contributor of over one hundred articles to professional journals.

SIDELIGHTS: As director of the College Alcohol Studies (CAS) Program at Harvard University, social psychologist and lecturer Henry Wechsler has researched drinking on college campuses throughout the United States. Under his direction, the CAS Program has collected data from surveys and questionnaires filled out by 50,000 students at 140 four-year colleges and universities. Wechsler, the author of several social psychology books, paired with science writer Bernice Wuethrich to relay the results of his extensive research on college drinking habits to the general public. The resulting book, Dying to Drink: Confronting Binge Drinking on College Campuses, has sparked controversy among some leading alcohol researchers.

The book discusses alcohol-related traditions on college campuses that contribute to the drinking environment, the alcohol industry, the physical and mental damage caused by alcohol, and advice to students, parents, and communities on how they can help curb the drinking problem. Booklist's Stephanie Zvirin felt the book addresses "a problem that is becoming not only more widespread but also more deadly." According to a Publishers Weekly contributor, Dying to Drink is "a sobering overview of underage drinking." The reviewer continued: "Their book is a dramatic—and very real—call for parents, educators, and lawmakers to take action." A writer for the On Your Feet for Life Web site noted: "Perhaps more chilling even than the cold facts and figures are the personal confessions gathered from Dr. Wechsler 's survey and Wuethrich's independent interviews."

On the Alcohol Facts Web site, Dr. David J. Hanson questioned Wechsler 's research, noting, "while Mr. Wechsler believes that media-driven messages are a bad influence on student drinking, he refuses to concede that positive messages, delivered through campus media campaigns, may have the power to help change students' behavior." Hanson explained that Wechsler's definition of binge drinking (four to five drinks during one occasion) does not match the widely accepted definition of binge drinking in the field of alcohol research ("a period of extended intoxication lasting at least two days"). Hanson pointed out that Wechsler's definition greatly increases the percentage of students who "binge" drink. He cited the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, which called Wechsler's definition "misleading."

While Dying to Drink has led experts to debate the correct definition of binge drinking, in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol Alan Reifman concluded: "One of the book's greatest values … may simply be in bringing these debates to the forefront." Reifman felt that once the issue is in the spotlight, the first steps toward change can be taken to lessen the problems of binge drinking on college campuses.



Booklist, August, 2002, Stephanie Zvirin, review of Dying to Drink: Confronting Binge Drinking on College Campuses, p. 1900.

Choice, July, 1982, review of The Social Context of Medical Research, p. 1595; January, 1983, review of Medical School Admissions, p. 730.

Chronicle of Higher Education, November 8, 2002, Eric Hoover, "Binge Thinking: Henry Wechsler Has Defined the Student-Drinking Problem, for Better or Worse," p. A34.

Journal of Studies on Alcohol, November, 2003, Alan Reifman, review of Dying to Drink: Confronting Binge Drinking on College Campuses, p. 893.

Publishers Weekly, June 24, 2002, review of Dying to Drink, p. 50.


Alcohol Facts Web site, http://www.alcoholfacts.org/ (February 17, 2004), David J. Hanson, Ph.D., "Henry Wechsler: Does He Intentionally Mislead the Public about Alcohol Abuse?."

Harvard School of Public Health Web site, http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/ (February 17, 2004), "Henry Wechsler, Lecturer on Society, Human Development, and Health."

Join Together Online, http://www.jointogether.org/ (November 25, 2002), review of Dying to Drink.

On Your Feet for Life Web site, http://www.onyourfeetforlife.com/ (November 25, 2002), review of Dying to Drink.