Altman, Lawrence K. "Psychiatrist's Downfall Spurs Debate," New York Times, 2 December

 

Altman, Lawrence K. "Psychiatrist's Downfall Spurs Debate," New York Times, 2 December
1988, p. A14.

It is reported here that there has been a "wave of protest" over the treatment accorded Shervert
Frazier, late of McLean Hospital and Harvard University. Frazier was forced to resign by Dean
Tosteson when it was found that he had plagiarized material in papers published between 1966
and 1975. Four incidents of plagiary are known.

Many of Frazier's colleagues believe that the punishment was unfair, that it was "stiffer than he
deserved." They excuse his behavior as "sloppy scholarship." They admit that it might not be
ethical but it did not merit his being fired. The punishment is regarded as disproportionate.
Indeed, some regard this as an "overreaction" by Harvard to accusations of fraud and laxity in
dealing with fraud. Doctor Seymour Ketz of NIMH suggests that "It was almost as if Harvard
was looking for an excuse to make a case of this."

Michael DeBakey, who was Dean at Baylor when Frazier was Chair of Psychiatry there, puts it
another way: "...we should not be lenient with dishonesty."

Colleagues at Harvard suggest that the usual treatment for such cases is to "ease" the culprit out
rather than to spread the scandal all over the papers.

It is reported here that Jolyon West of UCLA has already offered Frazier a position in the
Department there because Frazier has so much to offer psychiatry.

There is a note here concerning Scheffer C. G. Tseng, who is reported to have tested hundreds of
patients with a now discredited drug in the period 1984-86. He had a financial interest in the drug
and NIH has denied funds to him. (He is now at Miami). Remaining at Harvard is Kenneth R.
Kenyon, who has also been denied research funds by NIH for participating in Tseng's work.

Do harm to patients and get funds denied. Do minor plagiary and get fired. It seems there are
standards I do not yet understand.