Daniel X. Freedman


Honorary Degree (1982)
Doctor of Science
Location: Indianapolis
Presenter: John William Ryan


Daniel X. Freedman, a psychiatric physician, scientist, teacher, and administrator, was an internationally renowned leader in psychiatric medicine. At the time he was presented with the honorary degree from IU, he held the title of Louis Block Professor of Biological Sciences and Chairman of the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Chicago and President of the American Psychiatric Association.

A native of Crawfordsville, Indiana, Daniel Freedman was born August 17, 1921. He entered Harvard University in 1939, and then interrupted his studies to serve in the U.S. Army as a clinical psychologist from 1942-46. His wartime accomplishments included performing the first EEG for the Army and conducting psychological tests at the Walter Reed Hospital. Like many of his classmates, he then returned to Harvard, where his bachelor's degree was conferred in 1947 as a member of the Class of 1943. He graduated cum laude with a degree in social relations. Thereafter, in 1951 he received his M.D. at Yale, where he also completed an internship in pediatrics. This was followed by a residency in psychiatry, and graduation from the Western New England Psychoanalytic Institute in 1966. Continuing at Yale, he received one of the first NIMH Career Investigator Awards and became a professor of psychiatry.

While at the Yale School of Medicine, Dr. Freedman began to pursue research in areas such as psychosurgery, psychopharmacology, anxiety, autism, and schizophrenia. He worked extensively with schizophrenic patients and their families, and developed a particular interest in the clinical phenomena of psychosis, such as hallucinations. During this time, he began his professional focus on the role of serotonin in brain function. Dr. Freedman maintained his affiliation with the Yale University School of Medicine for nearly twenty years, eventually being named Professor of Psychiatry and Director of the Graduate Research Training Program in Psychiatry and Neurobehavioral Sciences.

In 1966, he left Yale to accept the position of Chairman of Psychiatry at the University of Chicago. There he presented Anna Freud with her first US Honorary Degree. While at Chicago, he pioneered the establishment of drug abuse prevention programs and led biological studies in schizophrenia and depression. Under his guidance the Department attracted outstanding clinical and research psychiatrists and enjoyed international stature. Dr. Freedman was a dedicated teacher and many of today's leading figures in psychiatric medicine and research were at one time his students. As a medical educator, he made important strides in the integration of basic and clinical disciplines in psychiatry.

In 1970, Dr. Freedman became Chief Editor of the AMA's Archives of General Psychiatry, perhaps the most respected psychiatric journal in the world. Under his editorial leadership, the Archives' policy elevated the quality of research in psychiatry and behavioral sciences.

Dr. Freedman became a part of the Research Task Panel when President Jimmy Carter established the President's Commission on Mental Health in 1977. The work of this Panel resulted in the passage of the Mental Health Systems Act of 1980. This act created a Federal and State partnership that provided for support services, community-based services, and prevention of unnecessary institutionalization. Their work also spurred the initiation of the Epidemiologic Cachement Area (ECA) Study, the first comprehensive examination of the prevalence of mental illnesses in the community.

In 1984, Dr. Freedman became the Judson Braun Professor of Psychiatry and Pharmacology at UCLA in the Neuropsychiatric Institute (NPI). While at the NPI, he continued his psychopharmacology research, with an on-going emphasis on the role of serotonin in complex behavior. He served at times as the Director of the Neuropsychiatric Institute and Acting Chair of the Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences. The Daniel X. Freedman Memorial Lectureship was established to honor these lifelong achievements, and his contributions to the field of Psychiatry and to UCLA.

For more than 40 years, Dr. Freedman made monumental contributions to research in his field and assisted in shaping effective public policy. He was involved in the 1950s in the development of new areas of psychopharmacology, ranging from studies of serotonin metabolism in the animal and human brains to clinical pharmacological studies of delirium tremens. In the 1960s he discovered the link between hallucinogens and the metabolism and disposition of serotonin in the brain. With his colleagues, he was the first to show changes in both brain serotonin and norepinephrine due to stress, the unique concentration of serotonin in the human pineal, and the elevation of serotonin in severely retarded and autistic children. His basic and clinical research expertise put him in a unique position to bring the resources of psychiatry and medicine to bear on the emerging public health issues and problems of drug abuse in the 1960s. He had significant influence in legislative and policy issues affecting the use and abuse of psychotropic drugs.

Dr. Freedman gave distinguished service to his medical specialty, to medicine in general, and to society, through his leadership on many boards and committees. He served on or chaired numerous committees of the National Academy of Sciences' National Research Council, the National Institute of Mental Health, and the Federal Drug Administration. He served on scores of boards and commissions, including the Social Science Research Council, the Drug Abuse Council, Medicine in the Public Interest, and the Joint Commission on Prescription Drug Use. He was chairman of the President's Biomedical and Behavioral Research Panel and served on the Selection Committee of the President's Commission on Mental Health and chaired its Research Task Panel.

Dr. Freedman published more than 200 articles on mental illness and drug research and fifteen books, including a leading psychiatric text "The Theory and Practice of Psychiatry" (1966), which he wrote with F.C. Redlich.

He was a past president of the American Association of Chairmen of Departments of Psychiatry, the American College of Neuropsycho- pharmacology, and the Association for Research in Nervous and Mental Diseases. He was a past chairman of the Council of Academic Societies of the Association of American Medical Colleges, a member of the National Academy of Sciences' Institute of Medicine, and a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He received numerous awards, including the Modern Medicine Award for Distinguished Achievement, American College of Physicians' William C. Menninger Award, National Association of Mental Health McAlpin Medal for Research Achievement, New York State Psychiatric Institute Van Gieson Award, and American Psychiatric Association/National Institute of Mental Health Vestermark Award. He received over a dozen major national and international awards and honorary degrees.

Dr. Freedman died June 3, 1993.