Psychiatry lost one of its leading lights in January with the death of
former APA president Donald Langsley, M.D., at age 79. In addition to serving
as APA president for the 1980-81 term, Langsley was a higly respected
psychiatric educator and an expert in issues concerning accreditation and
licensing of physicians. He was director of the American Board of Medical
Specialties for a decade beginning in 1981.
After completing his psychiatry residency, Langsley joined the faculty of
the University of Colorado School of Medicine as an associate professor and
director of the Colorado Psychopathic Hospital. In 1968 he headed for the West
Coast, where he founded the psychiatry department at the University of
California at Davis School of Medicine and became director of mental health
programs for Sacramento County.
From 1976 to 1981 Langsley chaired the psychiatry department at the
University of Cincinnati School of Medicine.
After his term as APA president ended in 1981, he continued to contribute
his expertise to APA in multiple capacities as a member of the Board of
Trustees and as chair or member of several committees, including the Ethics
APA President Michelle Riba, M.D., remembered Langsley as "a great
psychiatrist, teacher, mentor, and friend. He believed in the importance of
ethics and was a role model for medical students, residents, early career
psychiatrists, and colleagues."
Former APA president Lawrence Hartmann, M.D., commented that for many years
Langsley was "a steady and calm presence in American psychiatric
leadership," noting that although his APA presidency ended more than 20
years ago, he continued attending and contributing his wisdom to APA Board
meetings until last year.
Recently, Langsley "energized and edited the useful, brief, and clear
APA Ethics Primer—which was sent free to all psychiatric
residents in the U.S. three years ago," Hartmann noted. "It is a
good example of Don's longstanding interest in ethics; in psychiatry
residents; in combining local and national, as well as psychiatric and other
medical, issues; and in education."
He continued, "Don and I became friends when he asked me to take a
long walk with him on a deserted, off-season, Martha's Vineyard beach after an
Area 1 meeting 30 years ago," Hartmann recalled. "We both asked
questions; we had different points of view and experiences; we challenged each
other on all kinds of issues, and we remained friends. I miss him."
At the time of his death on January 13, he was a professor emeritus in
psychiatry at Northwestern University.
Langsley is survived by his wife, Pauline, who is also a psychiatrist;
three daughters; and three grandchildren. ▪