Whybrow, Peter C. 1939–

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Whybrow, Peter C. 1939–

(Peter Charles Whybrow)

PERSONAL: Born June 13, 1939, in Hertfordshire, England; immigrated to the United States, 1964; naturalized U.S. citizen, 1975; son of Charles Ernest and Doris Beatrice Whybrow; divorced; children: Katherine, Helen. Education: Attended University of London, 1957–59; University of London, University College Hospital Medical School, 1959–62, M.B., B.S., 1962; Royal College of Physicians, licentiate, 1962; Conjoint Board of Physicians and Surgeons of England, diploma in psychological medicine, 1968.

ADDRESSES: Office—Jane and Terry Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, University of California, 760 Westwood Plaza, Ste. C7-463, Box 951759, Los Angeles, CA 90024-8300; fax: 310-825-3942 E-mail[email protected].

CAREER: University of London, London, England, Medical Research Council-University College Hospital house physician, 1962, house endocrinology officer, 1962, senior house physician for psychiatry, 1963–64; University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, psychiatry resident at university hospital, 1965–67, instructor and research fellow, 1967; neuropsychiatry staff member at a facility in Carshalton, Surrey, England, 1968–69; Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH, director of residents training at college medical facility, 1969–71, assistant professor, 1969–70, associate professor, 1970–71, professor of psychiatry, 1971–84, department chair, 1971–78, executive dean, 1980–82; University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, professor of psychiatry and department chair, 1984–96, Ruth Meltzer Professor of Psychiatry, 1992–96, chief psychiatrist at university hospital, 1984–96; University of California, Los Angeles, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences and department chair, physician in chief at Resnick Neuropsychiatric Hospital, and director of Jane and Terry Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, all 1997–, Judson Braun Distinguished Professor, 1999–, Daniel X. Freedman Memorial Lecturer, 2002. University of London, lecturer at University College Hospital Medical School, 1968–69; University of California, Irvine, J. Edward Berk Distinguished Lecturer, 1998; Oregon Health Science Alumni Association, George Saslow Honorary Lecturer, 1998; guest speaker at many other institutions, including University of Manchester, University of Munich, Georgetown University, University of Bordeaux, Free University of Berlin, and University of Washington, Seattle; guest on media programs in the United States and abroad, including Good Morning America and documentary programs of the Discovery Channel, Odyssey Channel, and National Public Radio. St. Helier Hospital, house surgeon, 1963; Prince of Wales Hospital, house officer of pediatrics, 1964; Dartmouth Hitchock Affiliated Hospital, director of psychiatry, 1970–78; National Board of Medical Examiners, chair of testing committee, 1977–84, then researcher in psycho-endocrinology; National Institute of Mental Health, visiting scientist, 1978–79; Center for Advanced Study of Behavioral Sciences, Palo Alto, CA, fellow, 1993–94; World Federation of Societies of Biological Psychiatry, chair of Task Force on Unipolar Major Depressive Disorder, 2001–; affiliate of numerous federal and international research institutions, including Veterans Administration; consultant to President's Commission on Mental Health, Franklin Institute Science Museum, National Academy of Sciences, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, and others.

MEMBER: Collegium Internationale Neuro-Psychopharmacologica (fellow), International Brain Research Organization, International Society for Psychoneuroendocrinology, International Society for Affective Disorders, European Association of Neuroendocrinology, American Psychiatric Association (distinguished life fellow), American College of Neuropsychopharmacology, American College of Psychiatrists (fellow), American Association for the Advancement of Science (fellow), Association for Research in Nervous and Mental Disease, American Psychopathological Association, American Thyroid Association, American Association of Chairmen of Departments of Psychiatry (president, 1978–79), American Brain Coalition, Authors Guild, Authors League of America, Society of Biological Psychiatry, Society for Neuroscience, Society for Psychosomatic Research (fellow), Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives, Royal College of Surgeons, Royal College of Psychiatrists (foundation member; fellow), Royal Society of Medicine, Royal College of Behavioral Sciences (fellow), New York Academy of Sciences, Sigma Xi, Alpha Omega Alpha, Cosmos Club.

AWARDS, HONORS: Anclote Manor Award for psychiatric research, 1967; honorary M.A., Dartmouth College, 1974, and University of Pennsylvania, 1984; Josiah Macy, Jr. Foundation scholar, 1978–79; senior investigator award, National Alliance for Research into Schizophrenia and Depression, 1989; decorated Knight of Merit, Sovereign Order of Saint John of Jerusalem, 1993; Gerald L. Klerman Lifetime Research Award, National Depressive and Manic-Depressive Association, 1995; National Book Award, National Alliance on Mental Illness, 2005, for American Mania: When More Is Not Enough.


(Editor, with Z.J. Lipowski and Don R. Lipsitt) Psychosomatic Medicine: Current Trends and Clinical Applications, Oxford University Press, (New York, NY), 1977.

(With Hagop S. Akiskal and William T. McKinney) Mood Disorders: Toward a New Psychobiology, Plenum Press (New York, NY), 1984.

(With P. Kinney, T. Price, and S. Linsey) A Case Study in Designing and Implementing an Alcohol Curriculum for Medical Education (monograph), Dartmouth Medical School (Hanover, NH), 1986.

(With Robert Bahr) The Hibernation Response: Why You Feel Fat, Miserable, and Depressed from October through March—and How You Can Cheer Up through Those Dark Days of Winter, Arbor House (New York, NY), 1988.

A Mood Apart: Depression, Mania, and Other Afflictions of the Self, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1997, published as A Mood Apart: The Thinker's Guide to Emotion and Its Disorders, Harper Perennial (New York, NY), 1998.

American Mania: When More Is Not Enough, W.W. Norton (New York, NY), 2005.

Contributor to books, including to The Thyroid Axis, Drugs and Behavior, Raven Press, 1974; Hormones, Behavior, and Psychopathology, Raven Press, 1976; Handbook of Clinical Psychoneuroendocrinology, Guilford Press, 1986; Hormones and Depression, Raven Press, 1987; DSM-IV Source Book, American Psychiatric Press, 1998; and Twenty Great Journeys of Exploration, Thames & Hudson, 2006. Contributor to scientific periodicals, including Journal of Psychiatric Research, New England Journal of Medicine, American Journal of Psychiatry, British Medical Journal, British Journal of Psychiatry, Lancet, Journal of the American Medical Association, Science, Biological Psychiatry, and Archives of General Psychiatry. Member of editorial boards of numerous medical and scientific journals.

SIDELIGHTS: In the medical world Peter C. Whybrow is known for his in-depth research into thyroid disease, psychological disorders, and the diagnosis and treatment of manic depression. In 1984, Whybrow's collaborative achievement with Hagop S. Akiskal and William T. McKinney, Jr. was published as Mood Disorders: Toward a New Psychobiology. For this volume, all three drew from their mutual experiences as scholars and clinicians. The book includes chapters covering synapse function within the brain and the diagnosis of mood disorders, as well as a brief historical survey of psychiatric methods, models, and treatment. Critics observed that the authors cover a wide range of subject matter succinctly, producing a scholarly volume exhibiting great attention to detail. Critics also suggested that information gleaned from this volume would prove valuable since, according to a 1985 report from the National Institute of Mental Health, mood disorders were at the time among the least diagnosed and treated conditions. Richard J. Hair of Contemporary Psychology stated that "many intriguing ideas are presented. Clinicians without research experience and researchers without clinical backgrounds will find this book worthwhile, as will interested nonprofessionals."

In The Hibernation Response: Why You Feel Fat, Miserable, and Depressed from October through March—and How You Can Cheer Up through Those Dark Days of Winter, Whybrow and coauthor Robert Bahr explain the physiological and psychological changes brought on by the onset of the winter season. Together they explore the correlation between the shorter daylight hours—characteristic of winter—and seasonal weight gain, depression, and lethargy. Possible causes of the familiar winter weight gain as well as lethargy and depression are discussed. The identification and effective regulation of one's circadian rhythms (the internal biological clock) is just one of the topics addressed in this piece. Practical advice on treatment options include eating a modified diet, controlled daily exposure to light, vacation tips, and effective utilization of aural and olfactory stimulation. According to a Kirkus Reviews contributor, Whybrow and Bahr "have created a fascinating and delightful exploration of the ancient animal mechanisms and rhythms that still influence our lives."

In A Mood Apart: Mania, Depression, and Other Afflictions of the Self the author draws upon his own clinical experience to explore the identification and treatment of a myriad of psychological ills, such as mania, depression, and manic-depressive disorders. Whybrow hypothesizes that these crippling psychological disorders can be triggered by many things, including stress, trauma, grief, and genetic predisposition, causing a disruption of normal brain function. Some critics have found Why-brow's in-depth descriptions of neurotransmitter brain chemical function confusing but also deemed his sensitivity and candor invaluable. Rene van Bavel commented in Psychology in Brief: "Whybrow's approach is scientific, but leavened by the case studies of his patients, which are often compelling and touching." Using these actual case histories as guides, Whybrow suggests possible treatments including psychiatric counseling, prescription medication, and self-help techniques. A reviewer for Publishers Weekly stated that Whybrow describes "the inner emotional landscape of melancholic depression, mania and manic-depressive illness … with … clarity, empathy and sensitivity."

In American Mania: When More Is Not Enough, Why-brow offers an explanation for the pursuit of excess that some people see as a defining characteristic of twenty-first century American society. He suggests that humans in general owe their survival as a species to those individuals who possessed a hard-wired urge to explore frontiers in the quest for sustenance. The most successful explorers were those risk-takers whose victories were accompanied by intense feelings of pleasure triggered by the release of brain chemicals such as dopamine. These survivors passed their genetic advantage along to future generations, and the chemically stimulated need to explore and achieve continued to grow. According to Whybrow, it was brave explorer-hunters such as these who reached distant shores in the seventeenth century and populated the North American continent. Even today, he claims, most Americans are descended from these immigrant adventurers and continue to pass along the survival genes to their offspring.

The biological urge to explore and conquer and consume worked well, Whybrow writes, when the goal was to maintain life at its most basic level. When available resources exceeded basic needs, however, as they did in America, there was no longer any need for the incentive to hunt. Yet the biological desire for gratification remained, driving the quest for ever-newer sources of pleasure. Thus, many Americans find themselves on a workaholic treadmill. They work to satisfy their desires and constantly invent new desires to feed their biological need for pleasure, without realizing that there is a difference between pleasure and happiness. Why-brow does not propose a solution to the dilemma of the American mania, but he does imply that the answer lies, not within the marketplace, but within the individual.



American Journal of Psychotherapy, winter, 1998, Steven Lipper, review of A Mood Apart: Depression, Mania, and Other Afflictions of the Self, p. 120.

Booklist, March 1, 1997, William Beatty, review of A Mood Apart, pp. 1101-1102.

Choice, July-August, 1997, L. Gillikin, review of A Mood Apart, p. 1878.

Contemporary Psychology, February, 1986, review of Mood Disorders: Toward a New Psychobiology, pp. 96-97.

Kirkus Reviews, November 1, 1998, review of The Hibernation Response: Why You Feel Fat, Miserable, and Depressed from October through March—and How You Can Cheer Up through Those Dark Days of Winter, p. 1599; October 15, 2004, review of American Mania: When More Is Not Enough, p. 998.

Natural Health, May-June, 1998, J.K. Tidmore, review of A Mood Apart, p. 164.

Nature, May 7, 1998, Stuart Sutherland, review of A Mood Apart, p. 34.

New Leader, January-February, 2005, T.J. Kelleher, review of American Mania, p. 21.

Publishers Weekly, January 20, 1997, review of A Mood Apart, p. 386; November 1, 2004, review of American Mania, p. 51.

Quarterly Review of Biology, December, 2005, Mahendra Kumar Jain, review of American Mania, p. 460.

Saturday Evening Post, July-August, 2005, review of American Mania, p. 10.

Times Literary Supplement, October 30, 1998, review of A Mood Apart, p. 33.

USA Today, September, 1997, Gerald F. Kreyche, review of A Mood Apart, pp. 80-81.


Peter C. Whybrow Home Page, http://www.peterwhybrow.com (August 4, 2006).