Leston Havens

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Leston Havens
Leston Havens.jpg
Born Leston Laycock Havens
(1924-07-31)31 July 1924
New York City, New York
Died 29 July 2011(2011-07-29) (aged 86)
Cambridge, Massachusetts[1]
Residence Cambridge, Massachusetts
Nationality American
Fields Psychotherapy
Institutions Harvard Medical School
Alma mater Cornell Medical School
Known for Psychotherapy

Leston Laycock Havens (July 31, 1924–July 29, 2011) was an American psychiatrist, psychotherapist and medical educator.

Leston is best known for his work on biological psychiatry, the rehabilitation of severely ill patients, and methods of interviewing patients.[citation needed]. He was also a pioneer in the establishment of hospital psychopharmacology units.

Early life[edit]

Havens was born on July 31, 1924 in Brooklyn, New York City,[2] where he also grew up.[1] His father was a lawyer, and Havens originally considered law as a career path before deciding on medicine.[1] When he entered Williams College, in Williamstown, Massachusetts, he studied English and history, as well as philosophy.[1] In 1944, during World War II, he joined the U.S. Army, serving until 1946.[2] He was stationed on Tinian, a captured Japanese island in the Pacific, where he located and detonated abandoned ammunition.[citation needed] After his discharge from the military, Havens completed his B.A. magna cum laude, in 1947.[2]

Academic life[edit]

Havens went on to attend Cornell Medical School, graduating with his M.D. in 1952.[1][2] He served as an intern in Internal Medicine at the New York Hospital and stayed there until 1954 as an assistant resident.[2] Havens completed his residency from 1954 to 1958 at the Boston Psychopathic Hospital (now the Massachusetts Mental Health Center).[1][2] This began a long connection with the Harvard University Medical School. In 1954, Havens was appointed as a Teaching Fellow in Psychiatry at Harvard and by 1971 was promoted to full professor status at Harvard Medical School.

While at Boston Psychopathic, Havens founded the Psychopharmacology Unit; one of the first in the country and one that would become famous. There he completed many studies on Electroconvulsive Therapy. Between 1964 and 1982 Havens directed the medical student clerkship at Boston Psychopathic.

From 1987 to 1996. Havens directed the psychiatry residency program at Cambridge Hospital. At Cambridge Hospital he was a beloved teacher and mentor who influenced the development of many young psychiatrists. He was an iconoclast and great patient advocate, teaching his students to listen and relate to their patients and not categorize or pathologize them.


Leston Havens received many awards throughout his career.[3]

  • 1952 Cornell University Medical School: Morton prize in Internal Medicine, Samuel prize in ophthalmology, Alpha Omega Alpha
  • 1958 A.E. Bennett Award, Society of Biological Psychiatry
  • 1962 McCurdy Prize, Massachusetts Society for Research in Psychiatry
  • 1970 Fried Lecture, Newton-Wellesley Hospital
  • 1973 Who's Who in America
  • 1977 H.C. Solomon Award with Thomas G. Gutheil, M.D.
  • 1979 Award for Excellence in Clinical Teaching, Harvard Medical School, plus numerous nominations
  • 1979 Elvin Semrad Teaching Award, Massachusetts Mental Health Center
  • 1981 Valentina Donahue-Turner Award for Teaching, Harvard Medical School
  • 1986 Harry Stack Sullivan Lecture, The Sheppard and Enoch Pratt Hospital
  • 1986 Honorable Bernard Towson-Lectureship in Psychiatry, Cornell North Shore Hospital
  • 1989 Frieda Fromm Reichman Lecturer, Washington Psychiatric Society
  • 1992 Price Lecture, Trinity Church, Boston, MA
  • 1995 Benjamin Rush Award and Lecture, American Psychiatric Association
  • 1995 Nomination for 1995 Harvard Medical School Award for Excellence in Mentoring
  • 1997 William F. Orr Lecture
  • 1997 Zigmond Lebensohn Lecture
  • 1998 Lee Hasenbush Lecture, MMHC
  • 1998 Jacob Finesinger Lecture, University of Maryland
  • 1999 Honorary Member, William Alanson White Institute, New York


  • Approaches to the Mind: Movement of the Psychiatric Schools From Sects Toward Science (1973 & 1987)
  • Participant Observation (1976, 1983, & 1993)
  • Making Contact: Uses of Language in Psychotherapy (1986)
  • A Safe Place: Laying the Groundwork of Psychotherapy (1989, 1991, & 1996)
  • Coming to Life (1993)
  • Learning to Be Human (1994)
  • The real World Guide to Psychotherapy Practice (2000) Written with Dr. Alex N. Sabo

External links[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Marquard, Bryan (August 14, 2011). "Leston Havens, at 86; was noted psychiatrist, author". Boston Globe. boston.com. Retrieved 2017-07-09.
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Leston Laycock Havens." Contemporary Authors Online. Detroit: Gale, 2011. Retrieved via Biography in Context database, 2017-07-09.
  3. ^ Havens, Leston. "C.V.".