Obituary: Norman Dain (1926-2015)

One of the leading American historians of psychiatry, Norman Dain, Emeritus Professor of History at Rutgers University and a member of the DeWitt Wallace Institute for the History of Psychiatry at Weill Medical College of Cornell University, passed away on April 16, 2015 at the age of 89. He is survived by his wife Phyllis Dain, and his son Bruce Russell Dain.

Dain’s relationship with the DeWitt Wallace Institute for the History of Psychiatry began in 1958. While completing his doctorate degree at Columbia University, Dain was appointed research fellow in the History of Psychiatry at the Payne Whitney Clinic and worked alongside director, Dr. Eric T. Carlson from 1958 to 1961. Norman was a devoted member of the Institute for over half a century, and retired as Adjunct Professor of History in Psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medical College.

An eminent scholar, Professor Dain published widely over the course of his career. His research interests included the American mental hygiene movement, the intellectual history of early American psychiatry, and the history of the anti-psychiatry movement. His three books were Clifford W. Beers: Advocate for the Insane (University of Pittsburgh Press, 1980); Disordered Minds: the First Century of Eastern State Hospital in Williamsburg, Va., 1766-1866 (Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, University Press of Virginia, 1971); and his important work, Concepts of Insanity in the United States, 1789-1865 (Rutgers University Press, 1964). He received numerous honors, including a Guggenheim fellowship and the Benjamin Rush Award of the American Psychiatric Association.

Warm, wise, and deeply knowledgeable, Norman Dain was one of the guiding lights to the Cornell’s History Section as it developed into the DeWitt Wallace Institute. He will be greatly missed.

George J. Makari, M.D.

(To see the New York Times obituary, click here.)

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