Harold Levinson

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Harold Levinson
Born Harold Nathan Levinson
Nationality American
Occupation Psychiatrist and Neurologist
Known for Contributions to Dyslexia research
Website Dyslexia Online

Harold Levinson is an American psychiatrist and author, best known for developing the cerebellar theory of treating dyslexia.

Career in psychiatry[edit]

Levinson has pursued alternative theories and treatments for dyslexia since the 1960s.[1] In 1973 he and researcher Jan Frank published an article in the Journal of Child Psychiatry stating that their findings suggested dyslexia was caused by a faulty connection between the cerebellum and the other parts of the brain, instead of the cerebrum.[2]

By 1974 Levinson's cerebellar and related inner-ear theory that dyslexia has been mentioned in the popular press.[3] His cerebellar-vestibular theory led him to treating children with dyslexia as he would children with an inner ear problem, using anti-motion sickness medication. He also used the same over-the-counter medication to help treat the associated attention deficit, hyperactivity, impaired concentration and distractibility.[4] In interviews about his treatment he has stated that "The inner ear and cerebellum work like a fine-tuner to the brain", and the motion sickness medication helps with the fine tuning.[5] His findings suggested that cerebellar problems cause a scrambling of information, which secondarily confuse higher brain processors.[6]

Levinson has been using the same treatment since the 1960s and in 1978 the new treatment was covered by the American press.[7][8] Levinson appeared on television to discuss his treatment ideas in the late 1970s and early 1980s.[9] In 1985, Levinson observed that 750 out of 1000 dyslexia patients also had problems with balance and coordination.[10] By 1986 Levinson had medically treated more than 8,000 patients with dyslexia, and reported a success rate of between 75% and 80%.[11] He had also studied more than 20,000 patients in total. One of the additional psychological problems Levinson determined was associated with the same brain disorder is the rise of adult phobias.[12] Levinson's observations led him to believe that up to 90% of people who suffered from phobias also suffered from cerebellar and inner-ear malfunctions, leading the suffered to believe the fear is rational. He published a book entitled Phobia Free in which his findings were outlined.[13]

Levinson was interviewed on The Phil Donahue Show in the early 1980s,[14] in addition to many other network shows like Lifestyles with Regis Philbin, and The Today Show, The Morning Show.[15] Levinson used to be a clinical associate professor of psychiatry at New York University Medical Center.[16] Levinson became the director of the Medical Dyslexic and Attention Deficit Disorder Treatment Centre on Long Island.[17] He is now the Clinical and Research Director of the Levinson Medical Center for Learning Disabilities, which has had locations in New York, England, and Hong Kong.[18]

In the 1970s Levinson also developed instruments called the 3-D Optical, Auditory and Tactile Scanners, used to gather visual, auditory- phonetic and touch sensory data related to the dyslexic condition. The scanners were used by Levinson to screen and diagnose children and adults for dyslexia.[19]


Levinson has published his research in academic journals including Journal of the American Academy of Child Psychiatry, Perceptual and Motor Skills[20] and Academic Therapy.[21] In 1980 Levinson published the book Dyslexia - a Solution to the Riddle, expanding upon his theories on dyslexia, as well as related ADHD and phobias. In 1984 he then published the book Smart But Feeling Dumb, talking further about the experience of children suffering from the above-mentioned afflictions.[2] In 1991 Levinson published the book The Upside-Down Kids, which followed a hypothetical classroom containing eight children with different learning disabilities.[22] His book Smart But Feeling Dumb was released in a revised second edition format in 2008.[23]

Other books by Levinson include Phobia Free (1986), Total Concentration (1990), Turning Around — The Upside Down Kids (1992), A Scientific Watergate — Dyslexia (1994), and the lead chapter in The All in One Guide to ADD and Hyperactivity (2001).[24] Levinson is also the author of the Psychology Today blog Freud's Missing Links.[25] Subjects of his blog postings have included cerebellar theory, childhood bullying, and fraudulent science.[26]


  1. ^ "Words of Wisdom". The Press. March 16, 2001. Retrieved December 12, 2012. 
  2. ^ a b Barbara Klaus (November 24, 1985). "DOCTOR FIGHTS FOR DYSLEXIA THEORY". New York Times. Retrieved December 12, 2012. 
  3. ^ Jane Brody (August 9, 1974). "Faulty link believed cause of dyslexia". The Leader-Post. Retrieved December 12, 2012. 
  4. ^ Dina Bair (2012). "ADD & Dyslexia: Inner Ear Disorder". WGN. Retrieved December 12, 2012. 
  5. ^ Roger Dobson. "Travel pill cure for dyslexia". Daily Mail. Retrieved December 12, 2012. 
  6. ^ Brian Sullivan (February 5, 1978). "Psychiatrists find clue to unscrambling dyslexia". Sunday Sun Times. 
  7. ^ Brian Sullivan (January 23, 1978). "New Idea on Dyslexia Told By Psychiatrist". Waycross Journal-Herald. Retrieved December 12, 2012. 
  8. ^ "New York Psychiatrist Report New Findings On Cause of Dyslexia". Lakeland Ledger. January 17, 1978. Retrieved December 12, 2012. 
  9. ^ "Television schedule: Donahue". The Evening Independent. December 3, 1984. Retrieved December 12, 2012. 
  10. ^ "Doctor helps dyslexia victims". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. January 13, 1985. p. L6. 
  11. ^ Joan O'Connor (March 21, 1986). "Dyslexia Stems From Inner Ear Disturbance, Has Psychiatric Component, Researcher Postulates". Newspaper of the American Psychiatric Association. 
  12. ^ Ron Boyd (June 14, 1988). "Doctor links dyslexia, adult phobias". Dallas Times Herald. 
  13. ^ "University to begin study of young children". Ocala Star-Banner. June 20, 1989. Retrieved April 26, 2013. 
  14. ^ "The Phil Donahue Show: Guests include psychiatrist Harold Levinson - "A Solution to the Riddle Dyslexia" - and dyslexia victim Bruce Jenner". TV Guide. Retrieved January 22, 2013. 
  15. ^ "Levinson bio". Retrieved January 22, 2013. 
  16. ^ "Harold Levinson: biography". Retrieved December 12, 2012. 
  17. ^ Phil Revell (July 16, 2002). "Balancing Act". The Guardian. Retrieved December 12, 2012. 
  18. ^ "Harry Levinson on the Psychology of Leadership". Retrieved December 12, 2012. 
  19. ^ Richard Tuber (November 15, 1984). "New dyslexia theory challenges old concepts". Los Angeles Metro News Herald. p. 8. 
  21. ^ Jan Frank and Harold Levinson (1976–77). "Seasickness Mechanisms and Medications in Dysmetric Dyslexia and Dyspraxia". Academic Therapy. 
  22. ^ Gretchen Tripp DeLucia (November 5, 2011). "Four instructive volumes about education of children". Pittsburgh Press. Retrieved December 12, 2012. 
  23. ^ Luisa Hart (December 15, 2008). "New book shatters myths about Dyslexia". The Tribune. Retrieved December 12, 2012. 
  24. ^ "Books by Dr. Levinson". Retrieved December 12, 2012. 
  25. ^ Harold Levinson. "Experts: Harold N. Levinson, M.D.". Psychology Today. Retrieved December 12, 2012. 
  26. ^ Harold Levinson. "Freud's Missing Links blog". Psychology Today. Retrieved December 12, 2012. 

External links[edit]