Pediatrics and mental retardation--a continuing challenge. Presentation of the C. Anderson Aldrich Award to Gunnar Dybwad.


It is high privilege to participate in a ceremony in which the American Academy of Pediatrics honors the memory of one of its founders and most illustrious Fellows. The C. Anderson Aldrich Award for 1973 is presented to Dr. Gunnar Dybwad, Professor of Human Development at the Florence Heller Graduate School of Advanced Studies in Social Welfare, Brandeis University. The Award is made for Dr. Dybwad’s contributions to the development of children, particularly those with mental retardation. Inherent in his choice as awardee by the Section on Child Development of the Academy is recognition of mental retardation as a disability in development, one that is subject to change with time, either amelioration or deterioration, depending in a major way on the child’s social surroundings. It is to these latter that Dr. Gunnar Dybwad has particularly addressed himself. For the benefit of younger members and guests of the Academy, a few biographical notes seem in order about Dr. Aldrich who died 25 years ago.’ Born in Plymouth, Massachusetts, in 1888, Dr. Aldrich received his early education in Boston and New York; his college and medical school degrees at Northwestern University. After general practice in Winnetka, Illinois, for five years, he limited his practice to pediatrics. While in practice, he worked at the Children’s Memorial Hospital of Chicago rising to a full Professorship at Northwestern University, and succeeding Dr. Joseph Brenneman in 1941 as Chief of Staff at the Children’s Memorial Hospital. In 1944 he moved to Rochester, Minnesota, and founded the Rochester Child Health Institute, interested in research on the development of normal infants and children and in a program of delivery of child care to an entire community. When Dr. Aldrich informed Dr. Brenneman that he was leaving for Rochester, he received a letter that said: “your interest seems to be keeping well children well, but I like mine sick”. This diversity is a tension not to be resolved, but to be reconciled as an inherent part of comprehensive pediatric practice and education. Dr. Aldrich died in 1949, at the age of 61, only five years after moving to Rochester. One of his greatest contributions was to the modern practice of infant feeding. It is singled out for recollection because his findings have become the conventional wisdom. For almost 40 years, we have practiced in what Powers in 1935 called “The Psychological Era of Infant Feeding,” essentially the respect for an infant and his appetite instead of the insensitive rigid scheduling of times and amounts of feeding derived from a pseudoscientific misinterpretation of metabolic data. Although Dr. Brenneman wrote a much quoted article on “The Menace of Psychiatry,”2 Drs. Aldrich and Brenneman, from empathy with Ralph Waldo Emerson’s writings and their direct observation of infants and mothers, arrived at the same conclusions, that young infants and children are to be respected as individuals, as did Dr. Freud, from analyses of histories and dreams of neurotic adults. “Babies are Human Beings: An Interpretation of Growth” was in fact the title of a best seller by Dr. and Mrs. Aldrich published in 1938. At a time when a majority of mothers complained that children who had had the benefit of pediatric care also had anorexia, Dr. Aldrich could report 85% ofhis patients as good eaters.4 At

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@article{Gordon1974PediatricsAM, title={Pediatrics and mental retardation--a continuing challenge. Presentation of the C. Anderson Aldrich Award to Gunnar Dybwad.}, author={Harry H. Gordon}, journal={Pediatrics}, year={1974}, volume={54 4}, pages={486-8} }