Alexander H. Leighton
Alexander "Alec" H. Leighton (July 17, 1908 – August 11, 2007) was a sociologist and psychiatrist of dual citizenship (United States, by birth, and Canada, from 1975). He is best known for his work on the Stirling County (Canada) Study and his contributions to the field of psychiatric epidemiology.
Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, he received a B.A. degree from Princeton University in 1932, an M.S. from Cambridge University in England in 1934, and an M.D. from Johns Hopkins Medical School in 1936. In 1945 and 1947 he was awarded Guggenheim Fellowships. From 1946 to 1966 he was full professor in the Cornell University Department of Sociology and Anthropology. During this time he also taught at the School of Labor and Industrial Relations and at the Cornell Medical School in New York. He left Cornell to work at the Harvard School of Public Health, where he was Professor of Social Psychiatry and Head of the Department of Behavioral Sciences until 1975. He left Harvard to become the Canadian National Health Scientist in the Department of Psychiatry at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, where he stayed for 10 years. By 1999, he was Professor Emeritus, Harvard University, and Professor in the Departments of Psychiatry and of Community Health and Epidemiology, Dalhousie University. He served on advisory committees for the governments of Canada and the United States and for the World Health Organization.
Stirling County Study
In 1948, he initiated and carried out, later joined by his wife, Dr. Jane Murphy (1929- ) the influential Stirling County Study (a longitudinal study still in effect today), which studies the distribution of clinical depression and anxiety disorders in a Canadian study population, with comparative studies in several other communities in New York, Alaska, Nigeria, and Vietnam. His wife took over the direction of the Stirling County Study in 1975. The study is notable, among other things, for demonstrating that "the prevalence of depression has remained about 5% throughout the years and that this rate is typical of most populations in North America."
In 2003 a day-long conference, the Leighton Symposium, was held by the Canadian Anthropology Society in honor of Leighton and Jane Murphy's scientific contributions to the field of psychiatric epidemiology. In 1975 he was honored with the National Health Scientist Award from Health and Welfare Canada. He was also a recipient of a Rema Lapouse Award from the American Public Health Association's Mental Health, Epidemiology, and Statistics Sections, a McAlpin Mental Health Research Achievement Award from the National Mental Health Association (now Mental Health America), and a Joseph Zubin Award from the American Psychopathological Association (1994).
- "The Governing of Men" (1945: ISBN 0-691-08607-9, 1968: ISBN 0-691-02451-0) (online review), a social science book based on his work in a Japanese relocation center at Poston, Arizona
- After 15 months at Arizona's vast Poston Relocation Center as a social analyst, Commander Leighton concluded that many an American simply fails to remember that U.S. Japanese are human beings.
- "Human Relations in a Changing World: Observations on the Uses of the Social Sciences" (1949)
- "My Name is Legion. Foundations for a Theory of Man in Relation to Culture" (1959) (online review), on effects of sociocultural factors on personality and psychiatric disorders
- "Further Explorations in Social Psychiatry" (editor, with Berton H. Kaplan) (1976 ISBN 0-465-02589-7), about etiological components of psychiatric disorders
- "Caring for Mentally Ill People: Psychological and Social Barriers in Historical Context" (1982, ISBN 0-521-23415-8)
- "Approaches to cross-cultural psychiatry" (with Jane M. Murphy) (1965)
- "Come Near" (1971, ISBN 0-393-08617-8), a novel
- Obituary: Alexander H. Leighton of School of Public Health dies at 99, Harvard Gazette, September 13, 2007
- Jane Murphy Leighton, Ph.D.
- Eileen McInnis, Stirling County Study, CBC Atlantic Voice, May 22, 2015
- Marc-Adélard Tremblay, "Alexander H. Leighton's and Jane Murphy's Scientific Contributions in Psychiatric Epidemiology: A Personal Appreciation", Transcultural Psychiatry, Vol. 43, No. 1, 7-20 (2006)
- "Japs Are Human" Time Magazine, June 25, 1945