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In Memory of Edward J. Khantzian, MD

Edward J. Khantzian

Edward J. Khantzian (1935 – 2021)
He would remind his patients that “… success in life requires paying attention to the basics, starting with showing up and hanging in there.” No one showed up or hung in more fully than Dr. Edward Khantzian, beloved physician, compassionate colleague, dedicated mentor, and treasured friend. PHS mourns the loss of Dr. Ed Khantzian, who passed away this week following a lifetime of caring for those who needed care the most. Finding humanity in all levels of suffering, Dr. Khantzian spent his career working to understand addiction so that he could relieve the suffering caused by this disease, as well as that caused by a myriad of other mental illnesses. At Physician Health Services, he served the medical community for over two decades, as an esteemed member of the PHS Clinical Advisory Committee, and also as President and Chair of the PHS Board of Directors. In doing so, he served as a mentor to countless physicians striving to follow his lead in the art of “caring for the caregivers.”

Among his other great achievements, Dr. Khantzian was a founding member and past president of the American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry. And, in 2016, the Massachusetts Psychiatric Society awarded him with their Lifetime Achievement Award.

Through his academic pursuits and writings, Dr. Khantzian transformed the framework for understanding addictive behavior, by recognizing that it was not merely a “pleasure seeking” activity, but an aim to seek relief from suffering. In doing so, he created a pathway for treatment providers to deliver care that was simultaneously empathetic and effective. His teachings and his kindness will remain with PHS and the entire medical community for many years to come, and he will be greatly missed.

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