Louis Charland

Courtesy of Western University

Professor Louis Charland, a member of Western’s philosophy, health sciences and psychiatry departments, passed away suddenly of a heart attack May 9. He was 62 years old.

Charland taught at Western for over two decades and was a member of Western’s Rotman Institute of Philosophy, which focuses on the interdisciplinary applications of philosophical thought. Charland’s research focused on.

A memorial post on Twitter from University of Toronto professor Trudo Lemmens remembers Charland as “one of the original voices in philosophy of psychiatry and bioethics. We will miss his friendship, collegiality, and his rich, humane voice, informed by wisdom of experience.”

Charland is perhaps most well-known in the scholarly community for a paper he published in 2016 on clinical treatments for the eating disorder anorexia nervosa. In his research, Charland argued anorexia should be treated as a disease of emotion rather than logic, meaning cognitive behavioural therapy, which is commonly used to treat anorexia, would be ineffective.

His research made headlines around the world. 

Charland is survived by his wife Anna, their son James, as well as his mother Marguerite, brother Bernard and sister Anne Elizabeth.

“The many that knew Louis will know he was a larger than life character, with humanity and generosity matched by his affable, gregarious demeanor,” wrote Charland’s family in his obituary. “He never lost his childlike, disarming wonder and passions.”  

Charland taught courses in both the philosophy and health sciences departments at Western this year, including this spring’s Introduction to the Philosophy of Psychiatry.

Before coming to Western, Charland worked in the Faculty of Medicine at McGill University and taught philosophy and bioethics at the University of Toronto. He sat on the research ethics board of the Douglas Psychiatric Hospital in Montreal, worked as a bioethicist for the Toronto Hospital of Sick Children and consulted on the Ontario government’s Premier's council on health strategy, which built a plan for the future of healthcare in the province. 

His family wrote Charland “was a force of nature with a lust for life that brought out the best in all those he touched … Louis will be sorely missed, but long remembered” 

Update (May 13, 2021, 2:17 p.m.): This article has been updated to include details from Charland’s family obituary.

Correction (May 12, 2021, 5:38 p.m.): This article was corrected to reflect that Louis Charland passed away May 9, not May 10.



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