Oral Histories

Interview of Norman Q. Brill (1988)

UCLA professor of psychiatry. Founding director of the UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute.
UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute and Hospital: Norman Q. Brill
UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute and Hospital
Science, Medicine, and Technology
UCLA and University of California History
UCLA Research Centers and Programs
Balter, Michael S.
Brill, Norman Q.
Supporting Documents:
Records relating to the interview are located in the office of the UCLA Library's Center for Oral History Research.
Regents of the University of California, UCLA Library.
Series Statement:
This series was made possible by support from the UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute and Hospital and documents the history of that institution.
Brill's family background; childhood in New York City; attending City University of New York; medical school at New York University; internship at Morrisania City Hospital; Brill's decision to become a neurologist; residency at Montefiore Hospital; marries Doris Corcoran; begins psychiatric residency at New York State Psychiatric Institute; his psycho-analytic bias; psychoanalysis in New York in the late thirties; research on multiple sclerosis under Richard Brickner; serves in the United States Army Medical Corps at Fort Bragg; prevalence of psychiatric disorders in the army; General George C. Marshall prohibits any further diagnoses of psychoneurosis; Albert Deutsch exposé of the treatment of psychiatric patients; academics in the military medical services; working for William C. Menninger in the surgeon general's office; wartime treatment of psychiatric casualties; Brill decides to obtain psychoanalytic training and enters psychoanalysis; gives up neurology and becomes a full-time psychoanalyst; Brill is awarded the Legion of Merit; advantages of group therapy; heads the Veterans Administration research program; begins training at the Baltimore Psychoanalytic Institute; becomes chief neurologist at Georgetown University School of Medicine; reputation as a psychiatrist in Washington, D.C.; Brill's professional commitments during the late forties and early fifties; formation of the Group for the Advancement of Psychiatry (GAP); The Snake Pit; misconception that GAP was against the American Psychiatric Association (APA); the APA removes homo-sexuality from its list of mental illnesses; overinclusiveness of the term "mental illness"; John Lawrence and Stafford L. Warren recruit Brill to UCLA and the Neuropsychiatric Institute (NPI); the location of NPI; Daniel Blain encourages Brill to come to NPI while Albert Deutsch discourages him; anti-Semitism at UCLA; move to California; planning the NPI building; recruiting faculty for the Department of Psychiatry; the NPI budget; academic appointments; his goals for NPI; the growth of psychiatry following World War II; plans to have the California Department of Mental Hygiene fund the Department of Psychiatry; NPI is given high priority in the Department of Mental Hygiene's budget; Regent Howard C. Naffziger's demands; arguing the placement of NPI with the University of California Board of Regents; the regents approve building the NPI adjacent to the medical center; Brill is reprimanded for his letter-writing campaign on behalf of the NPI; decision to combine the posts of medical superintendent of NPI and chair of the Department of Psychiatry; Chancellor Raymond B. Allen's efforts in support of NPI; the Westwood Chamber of Commerce's opposition to NPI; the United States Public Health Service funds the building of the Brain Research Institute (BRI); fighting Horace W. Magoun for space in the BRI; working with architects of the NPI building; subject of LSD experiments runs naked through Westwood; facilities at NPI; attempt to provide a homelike atmosphere for patients; biological versus psychological explanations for mental illness; reasons for the current emphasis on drug treatments; the evolution of psychologists practicing psychotherapy; competition between psychology and psychiatry; the American Psychiatric Association's negotiations with the American Psychological Association; Brill's research on electroshock therapy; Brill's responsibilities as director of NPI; Edward J. Kollar; Brill studies the usage and effects of marijuana; founding the Mental Retardation Research Center; Brill's resignation from NPI; death of Brill's wife and parents; Brill marries Alice Jennings; serves as associate chief of staff for education at the Veterans Administration Medical Center, West Los Angeles, Brentwood Division; activities at NPI after his resignation; future writing projects; his children.