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Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 647896, 10 pages
Research Article

The Flexner Report of 1910 and Its Impact on Complementary and Alternative Medicine and Psychiatry in North America in the 20th Century

Department of Community Health Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, University of Calgary, Teaching Research and Wellness Building, 3E41, 3280 Hospital Drive N.W., Calgary, AB, Canada T2N 4Z6

Received 17 September 2012; Accepted 28 November 2012

Academic Editor: Melzer Jörg

Copyright © 2012 Frank W. Stahnisch and Marja Verhoef. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


America experienced a genuinely vast development of biomedical science in the early decades of the twentieth century, which in turn impacted the community of academic psychiatry and changed the way in which clinical and basic research approaches in psychiatry were conceptualized. This development was largely based on the restructuring of research universities in both of the USA and Canada following the influential report of Johns Hopkins-trained science administrator and politician Abraham Flexner (1866–1959). Flexner’s report written in commission for the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching in Washington, DC, also had a major influence on complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) in psychiatry throughout the 20th century. This paper explores the lasting impact of Flexner’s research published on modern medicine and particularly on what he interpreted as the various forms of health care and psychiatric treatment that appeared to compete with the paradigm of biomedicine. We will particularly draw attention to the serious effects of the closing of so many CAM-oriented hospitals, colleges, and medical teaching programs following to the publication of the Flexner Report in 1910.