YVES LECRUBIER Interviewed by Andrea Tone San Juan, Puerto Rico, December 10, 2003 AT: I am Andrea Tone. It is December 13, 2003 and we are at the annual meeting of the ACNP in San Juan, and I am interviewing Yves Lecrubier. Why don’t we start, at the beginning and have you tell me something about your upbringing, childhood, early education? YL: Well, my early education was in Spain when I was 8 - 12. So I learned another language early in life. And then in France we have a very classical education, oriented more towards literature than science. By going into medicine and understanding how our brain functions, I moved towards an interest to psychiatry. AT: So when you began medical training did you see yourself becoming a psychiatrist? YL: I didn’t know at that point. But brain oriented certainly. AT: What time period did you begin medical training? YL: The year I started was 1964. This was just after the discovery of the new drugs, although I’m not sure that had a major influence. But, the fact there was a physiology of the brain that could be affected in a manner that benefited patients might have had an impact. AT: So what did the medical curriculum in France offer students? We know that in the United States there were a lot of schools still wedded to the psychoanalytic model at this time; that a lot of people who became prominent in neuroscience were really turned off by the idea of spending the rest of their lives on the couch talking Freud. YL: Education in France is always handled by the state. Medical school is a seven year course and at the end you have an internship. Then you choose a specific specialty. A psychoanalytic career is totally independent from the university; there is no real control or formal curriculum although psychoanalysts have a strong influence in France. There is a curriculum for becoming a psychiatrist and I’m interested in psychology, as all psychiatrists should be. Yves Lecrubier was born in Algiers, Algeria in 1944. Lecrubier died in 2010. 1
AT: So when you were in medical training in the early 1960s, they were already emphasizing the importance of drug treatment and biological psychiatry? YL: Drugs were already available and we were looking for their mechanisms of action. So that was a rather interesting period, trying to understand why some drugs could improve specific disorders. That was a challenge, so everybody thought that by understanding the physiology of the brain, one might learn how these new drugs had their unexpected therapeutic effects. AT: Were there specific fields or challenges that interested you when you gravitated toward psychiatry? YL: When I started a major surprise was the possibility that some schizophrenic patients could be substantially improved and have a life outside hospital. So that was of a great interest. From the start I had two areas of expertise, one in psychopharmacology and the other in psychiatry.
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