Kanner, Leo

views updated


KANNER, LEO (1894–1981), U.S. child psychiatrist. Kanner, who was born in Klekotow, Austria, emigrated to the U.S. in 1924. In 1928 he began his connection with Johns Hopkins University, where he was appointed associate professor of psychiatry in 1948 and professor of child psychiatry in 1957. He was chairman of the child psychiatry section of the American Psychiatric Association in 1942–43.

Kanner may well be considered the father of American child psychiatry. Coming as he did from the tradition of psychobiologically oriented psychiatry, he gave proportionate attention, when describing the basis of behavior, to constitutional, biological, environmental, psychological, and situational aspects of the child's life. For more than two decades his Child Psychiatry (1935, 19573) was the basic textbook in this field, and it has left its impact upon child psychiatry in the United States and Europe alike. He is particularly well known for his original description of "early infantile autism," or what is now called "Kanner's autism" – a severe behavioral disorder which is apparent from early infancy. He wrote the introduction to Modern Perspective in International Child Psychiatry (ed. by J.C. Howells, 1969).

[Joseph Marcus]