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Dr. Daniel Freedman; Psychiatry Professor

June 05, 1993|MYRNA OLIVER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Dr. Daniel X. Freedman, an internationally recognized pioneer in the study and use of drugs to treat mental illness, has died at his home in Los Angeles. He was 71.

Freedman, a professor of psychiatry and pharmacology at UCLA since 1983, died Wednesday night in his sleep of a stroke, a UCLA spokesman said Friday.

In addition to his research and teaching, Freedman was highly respected as the editor of the widely cited psychiatric journal, the Archives of General Psychiatry, published by the American Medical Assn. He had held that position since 1970.

Freedman, who had studied the drug LSD throughout his career, was the first person to discover the link between such hallucinogenic drugs and brain neurotransmitters such as serotonin. He discovered 30 years ago, he told the Los Angeles Times, that LSD achieves a "TV show in the head" because of its effect on serotonin.

An expert on national drug policy who frequently testified before Congress, Freedman once told The Times that cycles of drug abuse recur because such mind-altering drugs as LSD represent an inevitable lure and a source of fear to humans.

"You can get a chemical glimpse of paradise," Freedman said. "But you eventually discover that you can lease it, but you can't seem to gain ownership of it."

Freedman was one of the first researchers to delve into psychopharmacology, examining the impact of drugs on the brain and behavior. But he was also known for his research on mental illnesses such as schizophrenia, anxiety and depression.

Seeking professional therapy for such mental problems should be considered a sign of strength, Freedman told The Times in 1988 after presidential candidate Michael S. Dukakis was criticized for having sought psychological help for depression.

"Why isn't it that we say of someone seeking treatment that he's smart enough and knows himself well enough to stay in touch with those sources of treatment?" Freedman asked.

Two years ago, Freedman was the honored guest at a Pasadena fund-raiser sponsored by the National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression. Carol Burnett, Jennifer Jones Simon and 360 other guests raised more than $100,000 for research he had fostered.

Freedman was a former president of the American Psychiatric Assn. and founder of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology.

He wrote more than 200 articles and 15 books on mental illness and drug research, including the widely cited "The Theory and Practice of Psychiatry" in 1966.

A native of Crawfordsville, Ind., he demonstrated an interest in psychology at age 12 when he sought out the Karl Menninger book "The Human Mind."

Freedman's study of psychology at Harvard University was interrupted by World War II, during which he volunteered as a military clinical psychologist after a back injury forced him out of the infantry. Working with hundreds of brain-injured soldiers convinced him that extensive research was needed on brain functions.

Freedman completed medical and psychiatric studies at the Yale University School of Medicine and taught there for a decade. He was professor of biological sciences and chairman of psychiatry at the University of Chicago from 1966 to 1983. He moved to UCLA as Judson Braun professor of psychiatry and pharmacology at the School of Medicine, and served as executive vice chairman of the department of psychiatry and biobehavioral sciences at the UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute.

Freedman is survived by his wife, Mary.

Funeral services will be private. The family has asked that memorial contributions be made to the American Psychiatric Assn.

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