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Presidential Paper   |    
Marcia Kraft Goin, M.D., 130th President, 2003–2004
George M. Simpson, M.D.
Am J Psychiatry 2004;161:1775-1775. doi:10.1176/appi.ajp.161.10.1775
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Marcia Goin has a fascinating way of getting things done. Many months ago she came to my office and (after some brief chitchat) said, "I don’t think you have ever been to the opening ceremonies of the APA." While I struggled to try and remember if this was indeed true, she added, "And so I would like to invite you to this year’s opening ceremony and, by the way, would you be willing to introduce me?" It is very difficult to refuse Marcia, and actually I was delighted to take on this task.

I first met Marcia in the mid-1970s at the University of Southern California. There she coordinated a very busy, large outpatient county hospital teaching program and was already publishing on the treatment of the poor and missed psychiatric clinic appointments, subjects with which we still struggle today. Later I was to learn that her first paper, entitled, "The Effect of Irritative Lesions of the Striate Cortex on Learning of Visual Discrimination in Monkeys," was published with Karl Pribram, who years ago was talking about the brain and behavior in a very modern way. I only heard him speak once and had a hard time following him, but obviously Marcia did not.

Marcia’s interests continued to evolve into other areas, and she immersed herself in psychodynamics and applied psychotherapy, publishing a series of papers on the treatment of the poor. She also published a series of seminal papers at this time with her husband John, a plastic surgeon, and ultimately a book on the psychological effects of plastic surgery. This book and a dozen or so papers relating to this subject are must reading for plastic surgery trainees. She shared a wide range of interests with her husband John. They worked together as volunteer doctors in Vietnam in 1964, providing humanitarian relief. In addition to this, John had a unique and incredible collection of Hemingway first editions, manuscripts, and other paraphernalia. Their joint publications ended with her husband’s illness and untimely death.

Marcia then continued with a series of papers on the teaching and supervision of residents. She became a national leader in research on how to teach psychotherapy to residents, including pioneering work on the use of videotapes to teach the techniques and on how to teach supervisors how to supervise. She still teaches psychotherapy observation by one-way mirror.

Even though she went on to bigger and better things, I will always think of her as a teacher concerned about trainees and patients, particularly patients who are economically needy. These same concerns carried over to her presidency. Her concerns for the failure of the mental health delivery system in this country and how to improve resident education, the shame of prison psychiatry, the lack of funding, and the stigma of mental illness are all things Marcia feels strongly about (and many more). She is wise enough to know that change in these areas comes slowly, but I am certain she advanced them all in her own unique way.

It is a joy for me to be able to share with someone, in our own department, the exchange of interesting books, including books on tape. Very few people must have listened to the too-long biography of Oscar Wilde (two volumes) unless they commute in California.

Perhaps more interesting, but not as witty, was the tape of the book on the Battle of Gettysburg, "The Killer Angels" by Michael Shaara. I listened faithfully to what the North did, the South did, the preliminary battles, the skirmishes the evening before, and the night before, but the real battle of Gettysburg was on the last tape, which somehow or other Marcia mislaid. Seeing that I was a bit disappointed, she said, "Well, anyway you know the ending."

It is also special to have someone on the faculty whose daughter is a celebrated chef, so occasionally one can give up the county hospital food and go over to the posh side of town and eat spectacularly well. Marcia’s other daughter is a creative writer and restaurant manager—not bad for a mere APA President. Marcia makes me think of Noel Coward’s allusion to Cleopatra when he complimented Marlene Dietrich: "The serpent of the Nile achieved more with a smile than all the conferences in Geneva," or Washington.

Dr. Simpson is Interim Chair and Professor of Research Psychiatry, Department of Psychiatry and the Behavioral Sciences, Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California. Address reprint requests to Dr. Simpson, Department of Psychiatry and the Behavioral Sciences, LAC/USC Medical Center, IRD202, 2020 Zonal Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90033; gsimpson@usc.edu (e-mail).




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