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Noted Black Psychiatrist Poussaint Joins Harvard's Medical Faculty


Alvin F. Poussaint, M.D., noted black psychiatrist from Tufts University, has been appointed to the Harvard Medical School Faculty.

Dr. Poussaint specializes in the study of the black power movement and white workers in the civil rights movement. Last April, Dr. Poussaint spoke out against psychiatry's failure in the black community.

At a meeting of the American Orthopsychiatric Society the 35-year-old psychiatrist charged that "most therapists are trained in a middle-class setting and are not trained to help poor blacks in the ghetto."

Poor communications with blacks, he pointed out, is thus due to the fact that psychiatry "is structured to help the rich who can afford individual therapy, not disadvantaged in the community.

Dr. Poussaint's concern is partially based on his experiences while living in East Harlem, New York City and in Jackson, Mississippi in 1965-66 when he served as Southern Field Director of the Medical Committee for Human Rights. Eighteen of his major publications have dealt with the dilemma of the American black.

Robert H. Ebert, M.D., Dean of the Medical School, yesterday explained the reasons for Dr. Poussaint's appointment: "Of course we hired him because he's a first rate psychiatrist, but we also felt he could be helpful in the dean's office, especially with the black students.

Commenting on Dr. Poussaint's plans for research, Dr. Ebert explained, "We hope he'll continue to explore the relations of psychiatry and the black in the ghetto, but I have no idea of his definite plans as Harvard doesn't guide research."

In addition to his work on black power psychology, Dr. Poussaint has also been involved in the study of the use of preventive drugs on bed-wetting children and in research on nicotine substitutes for cigarette smokers.

The new Associate Professor of Psychiatry earned his A.B. at Columbia and his M.D. degree at Cornell, then completed his M.S. work at the University of California at Lost Ageles.

Before his professorship at Tufts, Dr. Poussaint interned at the UCLA Center for Health Sciences. Since then he has been serving as Director of Psychiatry at the Columbia Point Health Center in Boston and as Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Tufts.

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