Fonds F32 - Sebastian Klaus Littmann fonds

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Sebastian Klaus Littmann fonds

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Fonds

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CA ON00008 F32

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  • 1966-1985 (Creation)

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8.7 cm of textual records (9 files)

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Biographical history

Klaus Littmann was born on 22 January 1931 and was raised in what later became the Eastern sector of war-torn Germany. A victim of a broken home, he spent time in a postwar orphanage where he met Dr. John Thompson, an American psychologist of Canadian origin who was working for UNESCO. At the age of 16, K. Littman was adopted by Dr. Thompson, who played a pivotal role in his education and career path. At that time, Klaus adopted the first name “Sebastian” and became a Roman Catholic. He was nicknamed “Seb” by colleagues later in life. S.K. Littmann attended primary and junior school in Germany and secondary school at École des Roches in France. He attained a Baccaleuréat in Paris, France, in 1952. He subsequently undertook his undergraduate degree at Wadham College and Institute of Psychiatry (Oxford University) from 1953-1956, attaining an Honours B.A. in Psychology, Physiology and Philosophy. Following that, Dr. Littman studied at the University of Edinburgh Medical School in Edinburgh, Scotland, from 1956-1963 where he earned a M.B., Ch.B. [Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery] and won the Cunningham prize in Anatomy as well as attaining three distinctions in chemistry, psychiatry and social medicine. Dr. Littman’s postgraduate education and training included several posts with administrative and clinical components in Edinburgh as a medical intern, house officer, registrar and lecturer. He also completed a Diploma Course in Psychological Medicine [D.P.M.] at the University of Edinburgh in 1967. From 1967-1969, Dr. Littman was employed as a Lecturer in Psychiatry in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Edinburgh and University Department of Psychiatry at the Western General Hospital in Edinburgh. Moving on to New York, Littman held the post of Visiting Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx from 1969-1970. Moving back to the United Kingdom, Dr. Littmann was a lecturer in psychiatry at the University of Edinburgh and University Department of Psychiatry at the Western General Hospital in Edinburgh from December 1970 to February 1972. Dr. Littmann subsequently came to Canada to be Chief of Service for the Northern Service programme at the Queen Street Mental Health Centre in Toronto, Ontario, from February 1972 to July 1975. He also became Acting Director of Postgraduate Training at the Queen Street Mental Health Centre from November 1974 to July 1975. Joining the staff at the University of Toronto, Dr. Littmann was appointed as Assistant Professor in Psychiatry in February 1972, and he held that post until July 1975. Further, from 1972 to 1983 he traveled regularly by air to Sioux Lookout Hospital in Northern Ontario and to the remote Native reserve of Fort Hope via the University of Toronto Medical School’s “Sioux Lookout Project”. In July 1975 Dr. Littmann was promoted to Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Associate Professor of Medical Education at the University of Toronto, and he held these positions until 1982. Also while in Toronto, Dr. Littmann became the Psychiatrist-in-Charge of Ambulatory Services at the Clarke Institute of Psychiatry from July 1975 to June 1979. He became Clinical Director of the Clarke Institute in July 1979 and held that position until 1982. Dr. Littmann became Head of the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Calgary in 1982, a position that he held until his illness and death on December 27, 1986. Alongside his professional positions, Dr. Littmann was active in numerous regional, national and international associations such as the Canadian, American, Albertan and Ontarian Psychiatric Associations, the Royal Society of Medicine in London, the Canadian and Alberta Medical Associations, the Association of the University Teachers of Psychiatry, and the Ontarian and American Association of Marriage and Family Counselors. He served on several committees for these organizations as well as for those at his workplaces. Other professional activities included his membership with the Canadian Civil Liberties Union, the Canadian Mental Health Association and the Friends of Schizophrenics—a world wide organization founded by himself and his colleagues. He served on the Research Advisory Board of the Canadian Friends of Schizophrenics. Further, Dr. Littmann was Chairman of the Section on History of Psychiatry in the Canadian Psychiatric Association until September 1986, and he was President of Physicians for Social Responsibility—an organization committed to nuclear disarmament—for the Calgary area, a position he held until his illness in 1985. Lastly, he served as an examiner for the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons. Dr. Littman was also the author of more than 30 scientific publications on a variety of subjects. Publications of special note include his works on the history of psychiatry, the mental conditions of a number of well-known philosophers, playwrights and rulers, and the practical therapeutic use of mythology and fairy tales. He also co-authored “Living and working with schizophrenia”, which was published by the University of Toronto Press, translated into several languages, and is among the University of Toronto Press’ 100 best sellers of all time. His research with families of patients suffering from schizophrenia at the Clarke Institute of Psychiatry in Toronto won an Honorable Mention Award from the American Psychiatric Association. S.K. Littmann was survived by his wife, Marie-Odette, and three children, Veronique, Ingrid and Kristian in Calgary as well as his brother, Wolfgang, in Heidenheim, Germany.

Custodial history

Fonds was donated by Marie-Odette Littmann, widow of S.K. Littmann, in June 1991.

Scope and content

Fonds consists predominantly of materials pertaining to three areas of S.K. Littmann’s career, namely his teaching activities, his publishing activities, and his involvement with Physicians for Social Responsibility. With respect to his teaching activities, the fonds includes holograph notes, course handouts, survey forms, diagrams, exercise questions, and related correspondence and memoranda. With respect to his publishing activities, the fonds includes copies of articles and essays authored or co-authored by S.K. Littman with related correspondence, including materials specific to his research of the history of psychiatry (i.e., essays, handouts) and historically famous persons with psychiatric problems. With respect to Littmann’s involvement with Physicians for Social Responsibility, the fonds includes correspondence, meeting minutes, a newsletter, a press release, and a flyer. Fonds also includes copies of some articles not authored by S.K. Littmann, but likely used by him for reference purposes.

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Open

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Finding aids

Detailed finding aid with index of names and titles is available in hard-copy, MS Word, and database formats.

Associated materials

Photographs of S.K. Littmann were previously accessioned in the Clarke Institute of Psychiatry fonds.

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Some materials are in French.

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Title based on the content of the fonds.

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Files have been arranged in ascending chronological order.

General note

References: Lewis, David J., John Parboosingh, Mary V. Seeman, and Joyce Timpson. “Memory and appreciation: Sebastian Klaus Littmann, 1931-1986.” Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, letter to editor, vol. 32 no. 6 (Aug. 1987): 499-500.

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