R. Gregory Lande, DO is a physician and retired US Army Medical Corps Officer. Dr. Lande completed his medical education at Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine. Shortly thereafter, Dr. Lande was commissioned an officer in the US Army. During his career in the military, Dr. Lande was active in a wide variety of clinical, academic and administrative positions. Upon leaving the US Army as a full colonel, Dr. Lande was awarded the Legion of Merit recognizing his career contributions. The next phase of his career involved administrative positions in hospital management, research, and teaching at various civilian facilities. Dr. Lande is the author of numerous medical and historical works. He lectures widely on both subjects.
Visit Dr. Lande online at http://www.medicallegalhistory.com/
Q: Thank you for this interview, Greg. Can you tell us what your latest book, The Abraham Man, is all about?
A: The title of this work, The Abraham Man, probably evokes several different ideas about the book. In this case, the title has a definite meaning which directly relates to the book’s theme that malingering – in all its various forms – has actually propelled the growth of modern day medicine. Malingering prodded physicians in the nineteenth century to sharpen their diagnostic skills and through the process laid the foundation for psychiatry and neurology. For many centuries the Abraham Man was actually a well-recognized pejorative label affixed to malingerers.
Q: How did you come up with the idea?
A: A clever criminal forces a detective to sharpen their investigative skills. In a similar manner, the malingerer is challenging the physician’s skills. In America’s nineteenth century the nascent field of medical legal practice was beginning. This opened up vast new opportunities for the Abraham Man to exploit. The growth and development of medical legal practice could never gain credible ground without confronting this diagnostic nemesis.
Q: What kind of research did you do before and during the writing of your book?
A: My historical research was broad and deep since the whole idea of malingering was rarely documented. In some respects it must be like panning for gold. A huge amount of water is explored until –hopefully – a few small nuggets are found. Extensive exploration in newspapers, legal records, courts-martial records, books, and historical archives served as my “water”.
Q: If a reader can come away from reading your book with one valuable message, what would that be?
A: Malingering, pretty much universally, is scorned. In my opinion that overlooks another facet of the behavior which paradoxically has helped sharpen medical diagnostic skills.
Q: Can you give us a short excerpt?
A: “The explosive growth of civil and criminal litigation after the Civil War brought lawyers, doctors, and the Abraham Man together. In the beginning, most of the contests involved disputes over large estates. These early cases paved the way for more complex trials involving matters of insanity, mental competency, and an endless array of exculpatory mental maladies. The Abraham Man positively flourished.
Around this time, the practice of medical legal medicine began to take shape. Lawyers increasingly sought poised physicians able to contend with court room drama. Asylum doctors, given their daily contact with the mentally ill, seemed the natural choice. Another group not affiliated with the large institutions challenged the asylum doctors’ hegemony. In fairly short order these disparate camps coalesced around two dynamic doctors.”
Q: In your own experience, is it hard to get a nonfiction book published today? How did you do it?
A: Yes. I have to give considerable credit to Algora Publishing. Although an author must write “a good story,” it also requires a publisher willing to take a calculated business risk.
Q: What’s a typical day like for you?
A:I am psychiatrist and spend my time involved in the clinical, administrative, academic, and research activities of my profession.
Q: What’s next for you?
A:I alternate my writing and speaking between strictly medical topics and historical interests.
Q: Thank you so much for this interview, Greg. We wish you much success!