Frank Joseph Ayd

BMJ 2008; 336 doi: (Published 22 May 2008) Cite this as: BMJ 2008;336:1196
  1. Jeanne Lenzer

    Founding father of psychopharmacology

    Frank J Ayd, a psychiatrist, is credited with ushering in the use of the first major tranquiliser, chlorpromazine (Thorazine), to treat schizophrenia in the early 1950s. Ayd became one of the pre-eminent advocates of biopsychiatry when most academic psychiatrists embraced a psychoanalytic model of mental illness.

    When Ayd first studied the use of chlorpromazine the only treatments available for schizophrenia were extreme, including measures such as lobotomy, insulin shock therapy, electroconvulsive therapy, and permanent institutionalisation. The advent of the use of chlorpromazine triggered a “momentous sea change in the practice of psychiatry,” says Robert T Rubin, professor of psychiatry at the University of California, Los Angeles.

    Ayd did not start out wanting to be a psychiatrist. As a young man he hoped to become a paediatrician like his father. He was exposed to the medical world early. His grandfather, a family physician who ran a pharmacy from his office, sent the young boy off on bicycle errands to deliver medicines to patients in their homes.

    Ayd entered a paediatric residency at the University of Maryland Medical School after …

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