Graham Blaine

Faculty Profile

Dr. Graham Blaine, Jr., current University ogre, is not as foolish as dining hall conversation pictures him. Actually, he's Harvard '40 come of age, articulate, professional and pipe-smoking. One of ten psychiatrists to the University Health Services, Dr. Blaine lives quietly in Cambridge with his wife and three children, all girls.

The psychiatrist hardly expected that his report to the College Senior Tutors would catapult him into a national prominence. But he does consider himself a "late bloomer." While at Harvard, Dr. Blaine majored in English and Latin Literature, belonged to the Fly Club, and played football for Eliot House. "I didn't study that hard," he says, "but I worked hard enough to get into the Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons, from which I graduated in 1943." After time in the service and three years of general practice in Connecticut, Blaine became interested in psychiatry. He returned to Bellevue Hospital as a psychiatric resident, received a degree, and practiced privately for a short time. In 1955, after two years at Williams as a psychiatric consultant, he was brought to Harvard by Dana Farnsworth, head of the Health Services.

As an undergraduate, Dr. Blaine showed considerable imagination. "I'm always afraid that the Record American will dig up scandalous old pictures of two Harvard boys leaving the Charles Street Jail. The MDC caught these two fellows racing each other down the Charles River on two chunks of ice during the spring thaw. One of them was me, the staid discoverer of improper sex at Harvard...I'm no Victorian."

"What I really am," Dr. Blaine contends, "is a Neo-Freudian." This means that he belongs to a group of personality theorists who accept many of Freud's insights, but reject his pan-sexualism, and place emphasis on the conscious mind and cultural determinants. The Neo-Freudians (Fromm, Herney, Erikson, among others) also believe that a psychiatrist should practice "directive therapy"--the therapist should offer concrete advice to his patient, not remain a passive listener. Blaine uses his theory in "short-term psychotherapy," the usual treatment offered by the Health Services. In the program, the student usually comes in once a week for an hour for no longer than two semesters. Those needing more serious attention are referred to outside psychiatrists.

Though many Neo-Freudians are social revolutionaries, Dr. Blaine thinks that the psychiatrist should accept the moral standards given by his society. "We're here to understand why a patient behaves as he does. But if he has done something wrong, we need a clear referent in society so he'll understand he'll be punished. Objective standards are needed for moral responsibility and successful therapy."


Apparently, the psychiatric program at the Health Center has been very successful. Best evidence for this, Blaine says, is that the yearly suicide rate has dropped from over 25 per 22,000 (10,000 students, 5,000 faculty, 7,000 employees) to 1.25 since Farns-worth began the expansion of the mental health program in 1953. Last year, the staff saw about 1,000 patients, each averaging eight fifty-minute interviews. "We like to think that 8,000 patient-hours have done some good."

Much has already been done, but Blaine would like to see the Service move toward "educational psychiatry." This means that college psychiatry would ally itself closely with the Faculty and Administration in an attempt to produce an education freer of emotional crises. Even now, Dr. Blaine notes, the staff influences the College machinery, often pointing out extenuating circumstances in student firings.

Dr. Blaine recognizes, however, that there is considerable resistance to further expansion of psychiatry at Harvard. Traditionalists mourn the passing of a more leisurely and less bureaucratic Harvard. In the past, the tutor was both teacher and friend. But now an ever widening chasm separates student and faculty. For advice once given by his tutor, the student now must turn to a "specialist" in Holyoke Center.

Dr. Blaine realizes that the personal touch is missing in today's anxious Harvard. "Since many of the problems I've encountered stem from the subtle pressures of social adaptation, rather than clear-cut academic trouble or 'mental illness,' talk with elders of the community would help immeasurably. I've noticed that the faculty-student split here is much worse than at Williams."

Naturally, Dr. Blaine still sees a great need for the psychiatrist at Harvard. "We know, of course, we can't take the place of the Faculty, so any suspicions of encroachment are ili-founded. Both the Faculty and the psychiatrist have their place in the University."