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Professional News
Effort to Right Historic Wrongs Wins Honors for Psychiatrists
Psychiatric News
Volume 45 Number 16 page 6-6

Two psychiatrists earned plaudits for their work to advance social justice from the Association of Women Psychiatrists (AWP) at APA's 2010 annual meeting in New Orleans in May.

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Psychiatrist Leah Dickstein, M.D., makes remarks after being honored for her decades of work with men and women once imprisoned in Nazi concentration camps. She said that she continues to be inspired by their bravery.

Credit: Ellen Dallager

Leah Dickstein, M.D., received the Jeanne S. Spurlock Social Justice Award for two decades of work with Holocaust survivors.

Dickstein is a professor emerita of psychiatry at the University of Louisville and on the volunteer medical faculty at Tufts University, where she supervises psychiatry residents.

Dickstein began interviewing survivors of Nazi concentration camps in 1989 and since that time has interviewed more than 200 concentration-camp survivors in the United States, Eastern Europe, and Israel.

Some of the survivors were Jewish; others were Catholics who had organized a countereffort against the Nazis and, in doing so, risked their lives to save those who were the victims of Nazi persecution.

Dickstein's sons Daniel and Steven, both child psychiatrists, videotaped many of the interviews.

Dickstein told Psychiatric News that three themes often emerged during the interviews in terms of the time survivors spent in the camps and their lives after being released.

Both inside the camps and after release, survivors often dealt with feelings related to isolation and separation from loved ones. They recounted for Dickstein the intense fear related to the personal risks they took while in the camps to maximize their chances of survival and the survival of loved ones.

Survivors also spoke to Dickstein about their efforts to reestablish social connections and create new "families" with other concentration-camp survivors after their release.

"The courage shown by these men and women continues to inspire me to this day," Dickstein stated. She has lectured about her experience with Holocaust survivors in the United States and abroad and is working on a book on the lives of the survivors, most of whom were in their 70s and 80s at the time of her interviews with them.

Dickstein said that she was "humbled and shocked" to receive the award. Dickstein has long been active in the AWP and created the award in the mid 1990s to honor psychiatrists who have worked toward social justice for those who have been the subjects of discrimination.

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Darrell Kirch, M.D., was honored for his work in mentoring women psychiatrists and his dedication in assisting them with the advancement of their careers.

Also recognized for his efforts to further equality in the field of medicine was Darrell Kirch, M.D., who received the 2010 AWP Martin Symonds, M.D., Man of Good Conscience Award at the awards ceremony.

Dickstein helped to establish the award in 2000 to honor men who use their professional influence to interact with, assist, and recommend women for leadership roles in the field of psychiatry.

Kirch is president and CEO of the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) and has for more than two decades mentored medical students and women psychiatrists who aspire to make a difference through leadership in psychiatry.

Before joining the AAMC, Kirch served as senior vice president for health affairs, dean of the medical school, and CEO of the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center at Pennsylvania State University.

In his leadership role at the AAMC, Kirch oversees the Group on Women in Medicine and Science, which serves as a national forum to advance women's success in medicine and science by addressing gender equality, recruitment and retention, and professional advancement.

Kirch told Psychiatric News that he is "deeply honored to receive the Association of Women Psychiatrists' Man of Good Conscience Award. It is truly humbling to be considered alongside leaders such as Dr. Martin Symonds, whose life and work epitomized equity and social justice." blacksquare

Anchor for JumpAnchor for Jump

Psychiatrist Leah Dickstein, M.D., makes remarks after being honored for her decades of work with men and women once imprisoned in Nazi concentration camps. She said that she continues to be inspired by their bravery.

Credit: Ellen Dallager
Anchor for JumpAnchor for Jump

Darrell Kirch, M.D., was honored for his work in mentoring women psychiatrists and his dedication in assisting them with the advancement of their careers.

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