Dr Luis Rojas Marcos, professor of psychiatry at New York University School of Medicine, is celebrated for his seminal work in treating the urban homeless, mentally ill immigrants and violent youth. The visionary psychiatrist has gained respect in both the United States and his native Spain for his pragmatic approach to helping people cope with life’s challenges.
“Life is change, change is life,” philosophises Marcos who has dedicated his own life to unearthing the explanations for human behaviour.
After graduating from Seville University Medical School in 1968, Dr Marcos left Franco’s Spain and immigrated to New York City where he furthered his medical studies and conducted groundbreaking research on how language barriers and cultural differences contribute to the misdiagnosis of psychiatric patients who speak little English. For 25 years, he helped shape public health policy in New York, earning accolades for his innovations as head of the city’s Department of Mental Health Services and the Health and Hospitals Corporation.
As well as teaching psychiatry in New York, Dr Marcos remains firmly connected to his roots in Spain where he serves as a trustee of La Caixa Foundation, which deals with social and public health problems, and frequently lectures on key medical issues. He also writes about social and psychiatric topics in English and Spanish, including a regular column for Spain’s El País newspaper.
Marcos admits that writing, a very “rewarding act” that binds him to his Spanish contemporaries, is something he finds stimulating — along with playing piano and guitar and competing in the New York Marathon.
Published in 2006