Fannie H. Kahan

(1922—1978)

Orthomolecular Medicine Hall of Fame

Inducted 2007

Fannie Hoffer Kahan was born in 1922 on a farm in southern Saskatchewan, the youngest of Israel and Clara Hoffer’s six children. A gifted writer from a young age, she graduated from the University of Minnesota with a journalism degree. Newspapers and magazines throughout North America published her articles on a variety of topics and she authored a number of books.

From the beginning of her writing career up until her death, Fannie fought passionately for better understanding and treatment of schizophrenia. A true pioneer in recognizing and promoting a holistic orthomolecular approach to health, she was one of the first journalists to write about the early research on schizophrenia conducted by Abram Hoffer, her brother, and Humphry Osmond. She continued through the years with a large number of articles and pamphlets which provided the public with much needed information about schizophrenia and its treatment. In conjunction with Drs. Hoffer and Osmond she wrote How to Live with Schizophrenia, using her talent for clear language to explain to lay people the basics of schizophrenia from an orthomolecular medicine perspective. Also with Drs. Hoffer and Osmond, Fannie wrote the companion book New Hope for Alcoholics. Another key publication was her book Brains and Bricks, a history of the Yorkton Psychiatric Centre, designed to take into account schizo- phrenics¹ experiences of different architectural features.

Throughout her writing career Fannie was strongly supported by another orthomolecular pioneer, her husband Irwin Kahan, who among other activities worked tirelessly to establish the Canadian Schizophrenia Foundation. In turn, Fannie supported Irwin in his efforts to improve the quality of life for schizo- phrenics and their families.

In 1972 Fannie became managing editor of the Journal of Orthomolecular Psychiatry and editor of the Huxley/CSF Newsletter. During her last illness, with the dedication and selflessness that was so characteristic of her, she worked on the Journal up until a few days before her death in 1978. She left behind Irwin, their three children Barbara, Meldon and Sharon, and an important body of work related to orthomolecular medicine.