Google celebrates achievements of psychiatrist Dr Herbert Kleber with a doodle

WASHINGTON: Google Doodle honoured psychiatrist Dr. Herbert Kleber on the 23rd anniversary of his election to the prestigious National Academy of Medicine, which was formerly known as the Institute of Medicine.

The doodle shows Dr Kleber talking to a patient as she finally manages to recover from her trauma. The doodle is illustrated by Massachusetts-based artist Jarrett J. Krosoczka, who is also the author of the graphic memoir - 'Hey, Kiddo'.

Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on June 19, 1934, he was known for his pioneering work in addiction treatment. He always described himself as an optimist, which helped him work with addicts for 40 years.

Dr Kleber, who would have been 85 now had he been alive, had participated in volunteering work for the United States Public Health Service in 1964. Soon after, he was assigned to a prison hospital in Lexington, Kentucky, where thousands of inmates were being treated for addiction. Noticing that the vast majority of patients would relapse shortly after release, he began to develop a new approach.

The therapist viewed addiction as a medical condition as opposed to a moral failure, describing his method as "evidence-based treatment". Rather than punishing or shaming patients, as many of his predecessors in the field had done during that time, he stressed on the importance of research. His method helped most of the patients recover and avoid relapse through the careful use of medication and therapeutic communities.

He also treated his patient without fee if they were able to afford therapy, his widow Anne Burlock Lawver revealed. She described him as a problem solver and master negotiator. She mentioned he was fearless, generous, and had a delightful sense of humour.

Dr Kleber's success attracted the attention of President George HW Bush, who appointed him Deputy Director for Demand Reduction at the Office of National Drug Control Policy. As co-founder of the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse, he was a leader in reframing the field of substance abuse research and treatment as a medical discipline.

At the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, he and his then-wife Dr Marian W Fischman established America's leading research program on substance abuse. During his 50-year career, Dr. Kleber authored hundreds of articles, wrote important books, and mentored numerous other medical professionals in the field of addiction treatment. A self-described 'perpetual optimist', he changed the landscape of addiction treatment, allowing patients to be diagnosed and treated rather than shamed, and he saved countless lives in the process.

During a special conversation with Google, Lawver said that Dr Kleber was a dog lover, and devoted to Dartmouth. He loved taking family trips to Mohonk, Bonaire, and the Florida Keys during holidays like Thanksgiving and Passover.


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