Stanley Cobb was the first chair of Psychiatry at Mass General, as you can see from the portrait here. He was recruited to start a hospital-based department of psychiatry through a gift from the Rockefeller family.

Stanley Cobb was kind of known as one of the fathers of biological psychiatry – linking mind to brain, if you wish. But he was also someone very attentive to the importance of psychotherapy and in fact, he brought a lot of psychoanalysts from Europe to work at Mass General at that time. He was also one of the early adopters, he published a paper, on ECT shortly after its discovery. So he was really a pioneer in many ways.

One of the stories about Stanley is that he used to take care of an older woman in Beacon Hill. She was always so grateful for his care, that she would repeatedly mention that she would leave a very generous bequest to the hospital, in particular to his department. When she did pass away, Dr. Cobb found out that the large bequest was the donation of her brain to the department. Without missing a beat, he then proceeded – he was also a neuropathologist – so he proceeded in performing a careful and thoughtful examination of her brain, and then charged the estate for the cost of the analysis.

Maurizio Fava, MD: Cobb’s cunning analysis