DISTINGUISHED PSYCHIATRIST SEMINAR SERIES
by Allen T. Pack, M.D.
The 2015 Distinguished Psychiatrist
Nineteen years ago, Jim Masterson, Irv Godofsky and I were sitting in the bar at the W Hotel in Westwood. Masterson had just finished his case conference with the residents. The next day was the Annual Meeting for the psychiatric clinical faculty after which he was to address the group on Narcissistic and Borderline Disorders. At this point in time, the state of training in psychodynamic topics at the NPI was appalling. Given his reputation and fluency in the field, we asked him for suggestions to help us enhance exposure to psychodynamics at NPI.
After his third gin and tonic that night, his academic demeanor started to slip away some, and he revealed how we might have recruited him to do this job for less money. He advised that we should have told him it was a prize, or a special recognition of his skill, maybe give him a title, or a plaque, or both a title and a plaque. Call him the “Distinguished Psychiatrist of the Year.” I said, “It’s a deal. You are the “Distinguished Psychiatrist.” Can I take back half the honorarium?” He demurred, and then he said we should use it on the next guy. That was how the Distinguished Psychiatrist Seminar Series got its name.
Since then, virtually every big name or big idea psychiatrist in the country, plus an Australian, an Englishman, and an Indian have graced our seminar series. Last year Salman Akhtar covered the novel topics of generosity and gratitude. We psychiatrists generally seem to focus on things that sound a bit more titillating like perversion and panic, but, paradoxically, the response to Dr. Akhtar’s talk was overwhelmingly positive.
Frank Yeomans, M.D.
For an encore of sorts, this year’s Distinguished Psychiatrist will be Frank Yeomans. He’ll be talking about another topic generally seen as anathema to psychodynamic psychiatrists, manualized therapy. Even more quirky, it’s a form of manualized psychoanalysis called Transference Focused Psychotherapy (TFP). Like other structured psychotherapies, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for instance, TFP was developed with an eye toward research. It uses standardized techniques to garner reproducible results. Dr. Yeomans is one of the leading writers and teachers of TFP. TFP was developed at Otto Kernberg’s Personality Disorders Institute at Weill-Cornell. Dr. Yeomans is the Director of Training of that Institute. He has authored and co-authored numerous articles and books. These include A Primer On Transference Focused Psychotherapy For The Borderline Patient and Transference Focused Psychotherapy for Borderline Personality: A Clinical Guide, co-authored with Drs. John Clarkin and Otto Kernberg. TFP is not only an effective treatment technique, but also a very effective training technique for therapists aiming to hone their psychoanalytic skills. This promises to be a very educational experience for all of us.
This year’s Distinguished Psychiatrist program will be held once again at the UCLA Faculty Center on Saturday, October 24, 2015, starting with the Annual Meeting at 9:00 AM. Dr. Yeomans will speak from 10:30 to 12:30. See you there!
The 2014 Distinguished Psychiatrist
This October much changed. We switched the location to the Faculty Club, since the Alumni Center was in the midst of construction. The format changed as well. We had the customary lecture following the faculty association meeting, but then a complimentary lunch was served accompanied by a second presentation. That meant more CME: four hours altogether.
Our Distinguished Psychiatrist for 2014 was Salman Akhtar, perhaps the most popular psychoanalytic lecturer in the country at this time. He has over 300 publications; this includes eight volumes of poetry! He serves as a professor at Thomas Jefferson Medical College. He has lectured broadly, both nationally and internationally. He is the recipient of numerous awards in both the fields of psychiatry and psychoanalysis, most notably the Irma Bland award as the Outstanding Teacher of Psychiatric Residents in America. As most of you know, the raison d’être of the Distinguished Psychiatrist Seminar Series is just that: to provide our residents a modicum of teaching in the area of psychoanalytic psychotherapy by the luminaries in the field.
Dr. Akhtar’s two lectures were on the paired phenomena of generosity and gratitude. His topics were in a different universe from the DSM, and different as well from the more common conflict-driven psychoanalytic topics.
Salman Akhtar, M.D.
Allen Pack, M.D. presenting DPSS award to Salman Akhtar, M.D.
The 2013 Distinguished Psychiatrist
Controversy. That may as well be Allen Frances’ middle name. Not that he exactly channels Ariel Sharon, but he is totally fearless at speaking his mind. We got the best of him as our Distinguished Psychiatrist in 2013. He opined at length about the new DSM, its creation and its impact. He not only discussed its impact on psychiatry, but also on mental health care delivery as a whole in the coming decade. He was not optimistic. We found him to be a delightful mix of eloquence and humility. His case conference on Friday night with the psych residents was equally involving. Held at Napa Valley Grille, it was the best attended resident conference in our series with “standing room only”. The case was complex, the discussion was lively, and pretty much everyone present took part. Dr. Frances shone, not only as a clinician, but also as a facilitator.
Allen Frances, MD.
On the Friday evening before the meeting the DPSS lecturer traditionally meets with the psychiary residents to discuss a case presented by one of them. Discussions are typically informal and informative. The next day at 10:30 AM following a 15 minute break after the business meeting, the speaker is introduced by Chairperson Allen Pack, M.D. After speaking, the lecturer receives the DPSS plaque.
The first Distinguished Psychiatrist lecturer was James Masterson, M.D. The seventeen others who have received this honor are Drs. Glen Gabbard, Ethel Person, Robert Michels, Otto Kernberg, Robert Naborski, Mardi Horowitz, Lenore Terr, Vamik Volkan, Roy Menninger, Russell Meares, John Gunderson, Anthony Bateman, Marcia Kraft Goin, Richard Green, Peter Kramer, Allen Frances and Salman Akhtar. 
Allen Pack, M.D. presents the DPSS award to 2012 recipient Peter Kramer, M.D.
2001 DPSS honoree Otto Kernberg, M.D. with PCFA past-president Richard J. Metzner, M.D.