Visiting Scholar

Eli Merritt, M.D., M.A

Eli Merritt, M.D., M.A., is a Visiting Scholar at Vanderbilt pursuing research in psychiatry while concurrently completing a history of the American Revolution. He completed his B.A. in History at Yale; M.A. in Ethics at Yale, M.D. at Case Western Reserve; internship in internal medicine at the Lahey Clinic; and psychiatry residency at Stanford. Previously he served as President of the San Francisco Psychiatric Society and as a member of the Clinical Faculty at Stanford and the Ethics Committee at Stanford.

His work in psychiatry centers on depression, grief, and suicide risk. He is the author of Suicide Risk in the Bay Area: A Guide for Families, Physicians, Therapists, and Other Professionals. At Vanderbilt he is investigating a Unified Theory of Depression. This theory posits that Major Depression is a biopsychological illness borne of obstructed grief. That is, a core biological process of grief undergoes biological or psychological “interference” to generate the psychiatric illness of Major Depression. The Unified Theory can be expressed as a formula, “Depression = Grief + Interference.”

In medicine, psychiatry, and medical ethics Merritt has written on diverse topics, including diagnosis, insomnia, depression, addiction, suicide prevention, informed consent, and privacy issues in mental illness. He has taught medical students and resident physicians courses on psychiatric interviewing, ethical standards and boundary violations, the placebo effect, hyperthyroidism, and medical decision-making, among other subjects.

In the field of American History Merritt has published “Sectional Conflict and Secret Compromise: The Mississippi River Question and the United States Constitution” in the American Journal of Legal History; “The Mississippi Navigation Crisis” in the Encyclopedia of North Carolina; “Thomas Jefferson in a Different Light” as a letter to The New York Times; he also edited and compiled Selected Documents from the Spanish Archives Relating to Spanish-American Relations During the 1780's, housed at Yale Sterling Memorial Library. He is currently completing a book entitled Disunion Among Ourselves: How North-South Compromise Saved the American Revolution.

Merritt has received numerous grants and fellowships in history and medicine, including the Virginia Historical Society’s Mellon Research Fellowship and the North Caroliniana Society’s Archie K. Davis Fellowship as well as twice-awarded grants for archival research in Madrid and Seville from the Program for Cultural Cooperation Between Spain and the United States. He also is the recipient of the Humanism in Medicine Award from Case Western Reserve and the Gulevich Humanistic Medicine Award from Stanford.