Oral Histories

Interview of George Tarjan

UCLA professor of psychiatry and bio-behavioral sciences. Director of the UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute’s Division of Mental Retardation and Child Psychiatry.
Subtitle:
UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute and Hospital: George Tarjan
Series:
UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute and Hospital
Topic:
Science, Medicine, and Technology
UCLA and University of California History
UCLA Research Centers and Programs
Interviewer:
Balter, Michael S.
Interviewee:
Tarjan, George
Supporting Documents:
Records relating to the interview are located in the office of the UCLA Library's Center for Oral History Research.
Length:
18.5 hrs.
Language:
English
Copyright:
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.
Abstract:
Tarjan is called in as a consultant after scandal at New York's Willowbrook State Hospital; care of the retarded in the United States compared to care in the Low Countries and Scandinavia; controversy over what to do with the Vejar Adobe during the expansion of Pacific State; accidents at Pacific State; parental visits to children at Pacific State; creation of John F. Kennedy's President's Panel on Mental Retardation; Tarjan works with the Kennedy family to promote research in mental retardation; major discoveries in mental retardation made by scientists in other fields; the National Institute of Mental Health increases its funding for mental retardation research; members of the president's panel; the panel's recommendations; the capabilities of people with Down's syndrome; the rise of the term "developmental disabilities"; presidential task forces and committees upon which Tarjan served from 1961 to 1980; fiscal constraints under James E. Carter and Ronald W. Reagan erode the quality of mental health care for the poor; Tarjan tries to convince Stafford L. Warren that UCLA School of Medicine should not supervise the state hospitals; Norman Q. Brill recruits Tarjan as a child psychiatrist; relationship of Brain Research Institute (BRI) to Neuro-psychiatric Institute (NPI); the Hill-Burton Act; Brill and Horace W. Magoun clash over the research philosophy of BRI; Tarjan and Stanley W. Wright's research at Pacific State; projects Tarjan would not allow to be done with children under his jurisdiction; working with Linus Pauling on metabolic disorders and mental retardation; Tarjan's connections with the University of Southern California; studying the life expectancy of mentally retarded individuals; determining what variables can predict events in a retarded person's life; the President's Panel on Mental Retardation promotes university-affiliated facilities for research and teaching; Tarjan chooses to have the Mental Retardation and Child Psychiatry Program (MRCP) report to Dean Sherman M. Mellinkoff; arranging facility space so that researchers and clinicians mingle; Tarjan's influence as director of the MRCP; faculty antagonism to Brill; Tarjan refuses to take sides; building the Mental Retardation Research Center (MRRC); decision to reduce the bed capacity and have an educational facility; mental retardation and child psychiatry are eventually combined into one program; salary arrangements between DMH and UCLA; Pacific State's relation to UCLA; issues of retirement benefits and security of employment arise after the university takes over NPI; recruitment and funding for the MRRC; Frederic G. Worden's opposition to Brill; Tarjan is appointed acting NPI director but refuses to accept the position permanently; search for a director for NPI; Louis Jolyon West; West's administrative style; Charles Victor Keeran; issue of how much university doctors could earn with private patients; protests over West's proposed Center for the Study of Violence; Frank Ervin; division of responsibilities and direction of NPI during period when Tarjan and Henry H. Work were joint administrators; Edward Kollar; retirement; major accomplishments of the MRRC; the future of research in mental retardation; the APA; Tarjan's two sons, Robert and James Tarjan.