Dr Jim Birley will take up office as the new President at the Annual Meeting in July. He has been Dean of the College since 1982. Previously, he was Dean of the Institute of Psychiatry from 1971 to 1982. He has been a Consultant at Bethlem Royal and Maudsley Hospitals since 1968. He has a particular interest in social psychiatry and the care of persons suffering from long-term psychiatric disabilities. Dr Birley writes: I have led a sheltered life, being born in 10 Upper Wimpole Street where my father practised as a neurologist, and my mother campaigned for the League of Nations, refused to help in the General Strike, and voted for the Labour Party. My father died when I was five years old. In psychiatric terms, this would probably rate as the most significant event of my childhood. In practical terms it meant that my mother settled with her young family in the home of her parents in Essex. I grew up in an ‘extended’ family, on a farm, and acquired a strong taste for village life, the planning and planting of gardens, and the exhilaration of playing silly games. With no one to rebel against, I followed my father's footsteps to Winchester, University College, Oxford, and St Thomas's. As a National Service medical specialist in Germany, I was alerted to the possibilities of psychiatry by witnessing the remarkable effects of treatment on the wife of a friend. This, and a chance encounter, at the RSM, with Dr Tony Isaacs, at the time a recent and enthusiastic convert to the Maudsley, were the lucky accidents which let me into a speciality where chance has always played an important part.
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