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
Biographical Note:
UCLA professor of psychiatry. Founding director of the UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute.
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.