Dr Vivian Rakoff was the role model of role models. While I was in medical school at the University of Toronto, I attended a lecture by Dr Rakoff who, at that time, was psychiatrist in chief at the Clarke Insitute of Psychiatry.

I remember it as a turning point in my understanding of what a doctor and patient advocate should aspire to be.

Department of Psychiatry

To the many whom he inspired, Dr Rakoff is remembered for his extraordinary intellect, kindness, sense of wonder and the agility with which he wove together ideas from a vast range of disciplines, from classic literature and philosophy to politics and pop culture.

At a time when many people were divided and entrenched in their own viewpoints, Dr. Rakoff’s open-mindedness and willingness to engage in reasoned discussion are qualities the world needs now more than ever, Dr. Voineskos, VP of research at CAMH recalls.

“That way of thinking, that ability to tolerate complexity and uncertainty and multiple viewpoints concurrently, I think, is not just important for the future of psychiatry, it’s important for the future of science and the advancement of humanity,” Dr Voinieskos said.

Ultimately, his multi-dimensional perspective gave him a better understanding of the patients he sought to help, said Dr. Roger McIntyre, a professor of psychiatry and pharmacology at the University of Toronto.

“It made him a better physician, in my view, because I still believe despite all the technology we have and all the exciting advances in science… the role of the physician, still to this day, is to bring relief to people’s suffering,” Dr. McIntyre said.

And so it is sad that Dr Vivian Rakoff has passed but his legacy as the role model of role models will endure.

Raymond Rupert, patient advocate and healthcare consultant.

source: Globe And Mail. Oct 10 2020. page B24. Wency Leung Health Reporter.