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John Clare Whitehorn

John Clare Whitehorn


Whitehorn, a director of psychiatry at Johns Hopkins, was born in Spencer, Nebraska. He received his A.B. from Doane College in 1916 and his M.D. from Harvard University in 1921. For the next seventeen years, he was engaged in biochemical and physiological research at McLean Hospital in Waverly, Massachusetts.

From 1935 until 1938, Whitehorn served as a research fellow in psychiatry and then as an associate psychiatrist at Massachusetts General Hospital. He also served as instructor in psychiatry at Harvard University and as special instructor in social psychiatry at Simmons College from 1936 until 1938. From 1938 until 1941, Whitehorn held appointments as professor of psychiatry at Washington University Medical School and as psychiatrist-in-chief at Barnes Hospital.

In 1941, he was appointed Henry Phipps Professor of Psychiatry at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and psychiatrist-in-chief at The Johns Hopkins Hospital. He held these posts until his retirement in 1960. At Johns Hopkins, Whitehorn devoted his career to the teaching and research of psychotherapy.  His book, Guide to Interviewing and Personality Study, first published in 1944, was an important reference work for psychiatric residents for many years.

After retiring, he served on the Maryland State Board of Health and Hygiene, becoming chairman in 1967. Whitehorn worked to elevate the regard for psychiatry in medical schools, in private agencies, and among the public at large and was a strong advocate for mentally ill patients. His professional interests were in the area of patient and physician interaction, and he devoted studies to the nature of human communication, improvement of the psychiatric interview, and the function of empathy.

Film clip: JHU Dialogues. John C. Whitehorn. 1966.

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