Eugene Landy

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Eugene Ellsworth Landy (November 26, 1934 – March 22, 2006) was a controversial American psychologist and therapist best known for his unconventional treatment of such celebrities as Alice Cooper and eventual exploitation of Brian Wilson. A graduate of California State University, Los Angeles (BA, 1964) and the University of Oklahoma (PhD, 1968), Landy began his practice as a successful drug counselor at Harbor Hospital in Los Angeles, California and a popular part-time instructor in the late 1960s at California State University, Northridge. He frequently employed Gestalt therapy in his treatment technique.

Relationship with Brian Wilson[edit]

Using unorthodox 24-hour therapy, involving control of "every aspect of [his] physical, personal, social and sexual environments", Landy was successful in limiting Wilson's drug abuse and improving his physical appearance and overall health. In the process, however, he was accused of brainwashing, drugging and isolating his patient, then benefiting from an improper business relationship with him. These charges ultimately cost Landy his professional license and reputation[1] and earned him the brand of a "Doctor Feelgood" in the press.[2][3]

Landy was initially hired to treat Brian Wilson by Wilson's wife, Marilyn, in 1975. He was fired by Wilson's band, The Beach Boys, the following year after doubling his fee, but rehired in 1983. The band reportedly performed a concert per month to meet Landy's increased demand and devoted some publishing rights to his fee.[4]

While also acting, at least initially, as his therapist, Landy managed Wilson's career between 1983 and 1991, in violation of the ethics code of his profession.[5] He also allegedly co-wrote and produced Wilson's eponymous solo album. Wilson's family contested Landy's control of Wilson, pursuing ultimately successful legal action in late 1991. Landy's depiction in glowing terms in the second half of Wilson's autobiography Wouldn't It Be Nice: My Own Story, published that year, would, were it a legitimate autobiography, indicate Wilson's approval of his methods; in an unrelated court case, however, Wilson testified that he had never even read the final draft of the manuscript, much less written any of it.[6]

Wilson, who is now being treated with conventional psychiatric intervention, refers to that period of his life as "the Landy years". While appearing on Larry King Live in 2004, he acknowledged that Landy took what he now claims is questionable control. Landy, who was billing Wilson $35,000 a month as a base fee with thousands more in personal expenses, was also the alleged beneficiary of a revised will said to have been written for Wilson in the early 1990s. As a result of the Beach Boys' and Wilson family's struggles for control, action was taken against Dr. Landy's professional practice. In the late 1980s, the State of California Board of Medical Quality charged Landy with ethical and license code violations stemming from the improper prescription of drugs and various improper personal and professional relationships with patients. Landy voluntarily agreed to surrender his license to practice psychology in California. He then created a highly lucrative position for himself as Wilson's business partner in a company called "Brains and Genius" (stemming from their names Brian and Gene). Landy became Wilson's writing partner, co-producer, financial partner and beneficiary in all of Wilson's professional activities. The exploitation finally ended in 1992 when Landy was barred by court order from contacting Wilson.[7] Nevertheless, in June 2008, when British newspaper The Daily Telegraph asked Wilson what his reaction to Landy's death had been, Wilson responded: "I was devastated."[8]

The lyrics of The Barenaked Ladies' 1997 song "Brian Wilson" reference Landy's relationship with Wilson as he was being treated for mental illness.[9]

Miscellaneous[edit]

Before pursuing a career in psychotherapy, Landy worked as a record distributor, promoting records of African American artists to disc jockeys around the United States; he also briefly managed George Benson in the early stage of the guitarist's career. In 1971, Landy authored a book on hippie jargon called The Underground Dictionary.[10] In addition to Wilson and Cooper, his other celebrity clients reportedly included actor Richard Harris; actor Rod Steiger; actress Maureen McCormick; and actor Gig Young, who died in an apparent murder-suicide along with his wife in 1978. In an interview with journalist David Felton, Landy claimed that he had treated others, but that he was in no position to explain his background.

Death[edit]

Eugene Landy continued a successful medical psychotherapeutic practice with licensure in New Mexico and Hawaii up until his death. He died, aged 71, on March 22, 2006 in Honolulu, Hawaii,[11] of respiratory system complications from lung cancer.

Footnotes[edit]

References[edit]

See also[edit]