Julian Leff

(1938-2021) English psychiatrist, he worked at Maudsley Hospital

(1938-2021) English psychiatrist, he worked at Maudsley Hospital from 1985 to 2005 evaluating the modalities and outcomes of deinstitutionalization on 1500 patients. At the height of his fame, an advisor to the WHO, he proposed his Expressed Emotions Model and as a senior developed Avatar Therapy, in which patients created online avatars of the voices they heard and built  a dialogue with anti-hallucinatory and anti-delusional efficacy. He aimed at reducing hospitalisations and medication for poor patients diagnosed as schizophrenic and reducing health service costs.

Gianmarco Manfrida: I recently discovered that in 2021 Julian Leff passed away at the age of 82, a friend whom I had not heard from for 17 years but I had known well. 
My sympathy for Julian, confirmed by frequent meetings and invitations, stems precisely from the perceived sharing of an uncomfortable position of outsiders: he came from a politically committed left-wing family, he had participated as a young man in the collective occupation of houses. He had a hundred secret faces, he was very reserved and controlled but at the same time welcoming and respectful.
One of the last times we saw each other, invited to a seminar in Florence in which he summarized all his research, he told me: ‘I have worked a lot, I believe I have proposed a model that has been proven valid and that has many scientific confirmations, even more than many pharmacological approaches. However, I see that it is not known, disseminated, applied as much as it could and should be… I have realized what its weakness is: it does not make money like drugs.” I will always remember the simultaneously disappointed, bitter and dignified tone of his words. I wish each of us success, but if it does not happen, I hope we all will be able to answer, as Julian always did, to one’s conscience first.

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