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Year : 2019  |  Volume : 33  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 3-5

In Memoriam: Eng-Kung Yeh, M.D., Ph.D., 1924-2018

Department of Psychiatry; Wan Fang Medical Center; College of Medicine, Taipei Medical University, Taipei, Taiwan

Date of Submission05-Mar-2019
Date of Acceptance05-Mar-2019
Date of Web Publication28-Mar-2019

Correspondence Address:
Winston W Shen
111, Section 3, Shing Long Road, Taipei 116
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/TPSY.TPSY_13_19

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How to cite this article:
Shen WW. In Memoriam: Eng-Kung Yeh, M.D., Ph.D., 1924-2018. Taiwan J Psychiatry 2019;33:3-5

How to cite this URL:
Shen WW. In Memoriam: Eng-Kung Yeh, M.D., Ph.D., 1924-2018. Taiwan J Psychiatry [serial online] 2019 [cited 2023 Mar 25];33:3-5. Available from: http://www.e-tjp.org/text.asp?2019/33/1/3/255140

Eng-Kung Yeh passed away on December 28, 2018, just 3 days short of his 94th birthday. He is survived by Shin-Shin, wife; Gin-Ru, daughter; Yu-Ru, daughter; Chi-Ping, son; Show-Ping, son; 8 grandchildren; and 5 great-grandchildren.

Dr. Yeh received his M.D. degree from the College of Medicine, National Taiwan University (NTU), in 1949, and Doctor of Medical Science degree from the College of Medicine, Hokkaido University in Sapporo, Japan, in 1961. For professional development, he had attended the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Louisville, Kentucky (1954–1955), and Duke University in Durham, North Carolina (1955–1956), USA, for further training, and worked as a visiting fellow in the Section for Transcultural Psychiatric Studies, Allan Memorial Institute, McGill University, Montreal, Canada (1956). In 1968, he had visited the University of Hawaii in Honolulu, Hawaii, USA, to work as a research fellow and a senior specialist in the Social Science Research Institute and the East-Western Center, respectively.

  Promoting Community Psychiatry in Taiwan Top

As a “purely bred” professor at the NTU College of Medicine, Prof. Yeh was recruited by the Taipei City Government in 1966 to be a superintendent for a newly founded Taipei City Psychiatric Center (TCPC). This was an opportunity for him to move out of the academic ivory tower at the age of 42 years to face the real world. At that age, he started to concentrate on his devoting energy to build and run TCPC, that he proudly called it his “third child.” He established community psychiatry, “the Taipei model[1].” He was also appointed as the chair professor for newly established Taipei Medical University.

Comparative to his contemporary NTU fellow colleagues, Prof. Yeh, in my opinion, was much open minded to international friends and collaborators. His initial studies on international students between Taiwan and Wisconsin were expanded into multinational epidemiological studies. For example, in his most-cited 1996 article with citation of 2,696 times counted in 2019[2], Yeh EK, Hwu HG, and other 15 co-investigators from 10 countries found that striking similarities exist in the rates and patterns of major depression and bipolar disorder based on 38,000 community cases in cross-national epidemiologic surveys with the same interview schedule and designs, but that differences also exist in major depression. They suggested that cultural differences and different risks may affect the expression of major depression[2].

Yeh was a resourceful boss for his staff at TCPC, and sent in all kinds of TCPC staff in all kinds of disciplines, to site-visit me and other psychiatric doctors seeking their professional training opportunities when I was with St. Louis University. I still remember that I once hosted a TCPC executive staff with an architect with a camera being busy in visiting all the buildings of psychiatric facilities in St. Louis in anticipation of a TCPC building expansion.

Yeh was instrumental in placing psychiatric service as an essential hospital accreditation criterion for accredited medical centers in Taiwan. Due to his effort, all expenses for the service for psychiatric patients are paid for by the National Health Insurance in Taiwan. Yeh was a pioneer in many facets of Taiwanese psychiatry[3]. For Yeh's contribution to psychiatric service, Taiwan president Eng-Wen Tsai specifically came to the farewell ceremony at funeral in Taipei to recognize his contribution to psychiatric service in Taiwan on January 19, 2019.

  Devoting to Teaching at Tmu Top

After Prof. Yeh retired from the civil service, he was appointed as a full-time chair professor of psychiatry at the age of 65 years, at TMU. He was also the chief of the Department of Psychiatry at TMU-TMU Hospital, where he was involved in clinical teaching for rotating medical clerks besides his classroom teaching for medical students. He had been heavily involved in developing training philosophy of hands-on teaching consultation-liaison psychiatry. He distinguished the differences between “knowledge” and “wisdom.” He paid special attention to the dynamics how family members are interacting to the patients. Yeh also stressed on the humanity in clinical care.

For his special expertise, he was a well-sought teacher at Shin Kong Wo Ho Su Memorial Hospital and Linko Chang-Gung Memorial Hospital. As the then chair professor of the Department of Psychiatry of TMU and the chief of the Department of Psychiatry of TMU-Wan Fang Medical Center (WFMC), I was privileged to appoint Yeh to conduct case conferences for psychiatric patients in consultation services twice a month at TMU-WFMC till he became disabled after a fall in 2017. In recognizing his devotion and contribution in psychiatry, TMU established the Eng-Kung Yeh Lecture in 2000. From 2001 till 2017, the annual Eng-Kung Yeh Lecture speakers included Joe Yamamoto (USA)[4], Milton H. Miller (USA)[5], Masahisa Nishizono (Japan), and 15 Taiwanese and international scholars. All Eng-Kung Yeh Lectures took place in TMU campus, WFMC, or Eng-Kung Auditorium (named after Prof. Yeh) at TCPC.

I had also been privileged to have a chance to get to know Prof. Yeh personally. He took me to his clinic for clerkship teaching at NTU Hospital and shared his clinical knowledge and personal wisdom while I was a sixth-year medical student at TMU. Attending his clinic was indeed a special privilege for me at that time. Through his enthusiastic encouragement, I was much interested in learning psychiatry. After being inspired by reading his paper on human value[6], I decided to choose psychiatry in medical subspecialty as my career before my graduation at TMU. After staying for one year as the first-year resident at TCPC, I left there to take my further residency in the USA. Yeh and I had been keeping in contact through letter communications and seeing each other face to face at international meetings yearly. Furthermore, Yeh in 2000 helped me again to get me back to Taiwan working at TMU, my alma mater.

Prof. Yeh stressed on professionalism strictly. He also insisted that the clinical reports should be written in a “digested and professionally synthesized version” instead of a directed recording based on direct patients' interview.

  Promoting Taiwanese Psychiatry Internationally Top

Prof. Yeh had still been active in his academic pursuits. He had attended the annual meetings of the American Psychiatric Association (APA) every year and the World Congress of the World Psychiatric Association (WPA) every three years. At the meetings, he could routinely see his international friends, like J. Yamamoto[2], M. H. Miller[3], and M. Nishizono at the meetings. Each time, I could see him at the sites of meetings to catch up what had happened during the preceding year. I remember that I was invited to accompany him to attend the psychiatric reception of Duke University in Montreal, where Ewald W. Busse, the then dean of at Duke Medical School alumnus reception to specially recognize him as an outstanding Duke medical alumnus. Then, he, Mrs. Yeh, and his daughter, Yu-Ru, visited my home at Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Prof. Yeh was a wonderful host. In the 1980s, almost all presidents of the APA visited Taiwan through Yeh's invitations. Each time, I met his friends, who were always helpful and gracious to me too. For example, one time in the early 1980s, M. H. Miller offered me for a private tutoring before my taking American subspecialty examination. Therefore, I flew in from New Mexico on a Thursday, to arrive at the University of California at Los Angeles-Harbor Hospital at around 3:00 p.m. Then, there were two sessions of patient interview training conducted by him in that evening. I stayed at his house during that trip. The following day, I received further four interview training sections conducted by his four senior faculty members[7]. Yamamoto helped get me connected with H. Hosaki, the then chair professor at Keio University in Japan in the late 1980s[8]. Each time I attend a professional meeting in Japan, M. Nishizono always asks me about Prof. Yeh and his family when he and I see each other at the meetings.

One time, Prof. Yeh, Gin-Ru, Prof. Masatoshi, and Mrs. Prof. Mariko Takeda, as well as I, were at a Taiwanese restaurant in Taipei in the early 2010s. I remember that Yeh sang the whole Japanese song “furusato” and gave the Japanese couple two books written by Mrs. Yeh[9],[10].

  The Legacy of Eng-Kung Yeh in Taiwan Top

Prof. Yeh was also devoted to working Taiwanese democracy, social justice, his relentless pursuit in academia, and globalization of psychiatry. Prof. Yeh's proud two sons-in-law, one son, and one grandson have been well-accomplished academicians. From Yeh's inspiration in founding the Pacific Rim College of Psychiatry, and accompanying him for his representing Taiwanese Society of Psychiatry at the annual meeting of APA, I have learned to get myself involved doing volunteer work in Asian Federation of Psychiatric Associations and the WPA. I believe that the legacy of Eng-Kung Yeh will go on because he had influenced hundreds of psychiatrists and thousands of paraprofessional mental health staff in Taiwan. (A comparable abbreviated version of this obituary is also prepared for publication in Asia Pacific Psychiatry. The author declares no conflicts of interest in writing this editorial.)

  References Top

Yeh EK, Hwu HG: Mental health care delivery system in Taiwan: A report of the Taipei model (a chapter). In: Pichot P, Berner P, Wolf R, et al. (eds): Psychiatry: the State of the Art. Boston: Springer, 1985.  Back to cited text no. 1
Weissman MM, Bland RC, Canino GJ, et al.: Cross-national epidemiology of major depression and bipolar disorder. JAMA 1996; 276: 293-9.  Back to cited text no. 2
Wu CH: The Biography of Eng-Kung Yeh: a Pioneer for Taiwanese Psychiatry (in Mandarin). Taipei: PsyGarden, 2005.  Back to cited text no. 3
Yeh EK: Professor Milton H. Miller (1927 – 2005). A long-term and dear friend of Taiwanese psychiatry. Taiwan J Psychiatry 2005; 19: 161-3.  Back to cited text no. 4
Yeh EK: In memoriam: Joe Yamamoto, M.D. (1924-2009). Taiwan J Psychiatry 2009; 23: 254-6.  Back to cited text no. 5
Yeh EK: The Chinese mind and human freedom. Int J Soc Psychiatry 1972; 18: 132-6.  Back to cited text no. 6
Shen WW: Enjoy preparing for oral ABPN examination: lean the game of show and tell. Mo Psychiatry 1994; 91: 81-4.  Back to cited text no. 7
Shen WW: Pharmacotherapy of alcoholism: the American current status. Keio J Med 1991; 40: 9-12.  Back to cited text no. 8
Liu SS: Collection of Occasional Essays (in Japanese). Nobeoka city, Japan: Meikoudo Press, 2012.  Back to cited text no. 9
Liu SS: The Other Side of the Ocean (in Japanese). Nobeoka city, Japan: Meikoudo Press, 2012.  Back to cited text no. 10


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