Dr. Edward Khantzian

Edward J.Khantzian is the originator or the self-medication hypothesis of addictive disorders. He is a professor of psychiatry part-time, Harvard Medical School, and a founding member of the Department of Psychiatry at The Cambridge Hospital.

Dr. Edward Khantzian is a first generation Armenian-American born in Haverhill Massachusetts. His parents wereIMG_1858 born in Turkey, his father coming to this country in 1912 and his mother enduring a more potentially devastating experience of living through the Turkish genocide that started in in 1915. Despite that tragic era, including the forced marches, she survived and joined with her husband to come to the United States in the late 1920s. Edward was born in 1935 and grew up in Haverhill, a shoe town, where both parents worked in the then flourishing shoe industry.

Educated in local school systems, he began his advanced studies in the Evening Divisions of Merrimack College and Boston University, graduating from the latter in 1958. After working as a technical writer for Raytheon for one year, he commenced his medical training at Albany Medical College and graduated in 1963 followed by an Internship at Rhode Island Hospital in Providence, Rhode Island. Subsequently he commenced his training in psychiatry at the Harvard Massachusetts Mental Health Center.

Screen Shot 2016-06-25 at 4.20.16 PMCompleting his training in Psychiatry he was one of the founders of the then newest Harvard Department of Psychiatry at The Cambridge Hospital with which he has been affiliated most of his career. He completed psychoanalytic training at the Boston Psychoanalytic Society and Institute in 1973. Starting early in his career he became involved in multiple clinical and investigative studies of addiction, with an emphasis on pursuing a psychodynamic understanding of the psychological vulnerabilities that predispose to addictive disorders.

He has spent more than 40 years studying psychological factors associated with drug and alcohol abuse. Dr. Screen Shot 2016-06-25 at 4.19.55 PMKhantzian is a practicing psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, participant in numerous clinical research studies on substance abuse, and lecturer and writer on psychiatry, psychoanalysis, and substance abuse problems.

A former Chairman of the Massachusetts’ Governor’s Drug Rehabilitation Advisory Board and consultant to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, he is the founder and past director of The Cambridge Hospital Drug Treatment Programs.

He is a founding member and Past President and Chairman of the Board of Directors (1992-2016) of the Massachusetts Medical Society’s affiliated program, Physician Health Services, Inc. Dr. Khantzian was the recipient of the Massachusetts Medical Society 2002 Award for Excellence in Medical Service. 

Screen Shot 2016-06-25 at 4.19.18 PMHe is a Distinguished Life Fellow of The American Psychiatric Association. Dr. Khantzian was a founding Chairperson for the Group for the Advancement of Psychiatry (GAP) Committee on Alcoholism and the Addictions. He is also a founding member of the American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry (AAAP) and is a past president of this national organization.

In 2016 The Massachusetts Psychiatric Society honored him by conferring upon him The Lifetime Achievement Award.