The Saga of Heskel Haddad

In the course of many meanderings over the still unsettled terrain of Optometry and Ophthalmology relations, particularly regarding vision therapy, I was brought back the other day to a phenomenal page in the history of ophthalmic publications. Or perhaps more precisely, to a phenomenal set of pages.

HaddadThe year was 1985, and I was well into my career as a “library rat” of sorts.  Intrigued by the lack of support in ophthalmologic literature for either orthoptics or vision therapy as related to learning, an issue of the journal Metabolic, Systemic, and Pediatric Ophthalmology, edited by Haskel M. Haddad, M.D., caught my eye.  It had a sticker on the front cover of the journal, which was a very unusual occurrence. The sticker announced that a paper on orthoptics had been withdrawn from the journal.

I suppose it isn’t earth-shattering for a paper to be withdrawn by its authors, but this was an entirely different affair, the likes of which I had neither seen previously, nor in the 30+ years since. The article had actually been printed in the journal, but the pages were torn out! There had to be some kind of juicy controversy for the editor to authorize a staff person to manually tear out the pages of the article prior to its mailing, after it had already appeared in print.

Publications listed for Dr. Haddad are still available online, and through this link it appears that the identical paper published by Dr. Haddad with co-authors in the Journal of Learning Disabilities, The Use of Orthoptics in Dyslexia, is the one that was removed from the pages of Dr. Haddad’s journal.  JLD of course is still going strong.

JLD Cover

Dr. Haddad’s journal did not last much longer after the infamous 1985 issue was published, and curious of his whereabouts I googled Heskel M. Haddad, M.D.  According to he is still practicing, well into his ’80s, and Dyslexia is profiled as one of his areas of expertise.  I also found and subsequently read a fascinating memoir that he authored, copyrighted in 1986 as Flight from Babylon, and in 2004 as Born in Baghdad, detailing his childhood in Iraq and completion of medical training there before emigrating to Israel to escape Iraqui persecution for the practice of Judaism. The book recounts Dr. Haddad’s experiences in Israel, and is a compelling socio-cultural commentary. Its chronology ends abruptly with his landing a Residency in Pediatrics at  Children’s Hospital in Boston, and emigration to the United States.

One thought on “The Saga of Heskel Haddad

  1. Dear Lenny,

    Another insight into the realities of sharing a viewpoint counter to the prevailing consensus. Peer review is becoming more of agreeing with your peers rather than sharing another view point. Any point of view, which is against the status quo, is ridiculed.
    Another irony is that any opposing research/point of view is never published or in this case, it was accidently published. The article certainly faced a crude method of destruction. In your search for knowledge/truth, I highly recommend that you read the following book, “Doctoring Data” by Dr. Malcolm Kendrick. It is an EYE OPENING book into the real world of medical research.


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