Had I been invited to write a professional ‘Prospect’ when I qualified almost half a century ago, rather than this retrospect, it would have contained no reference to psychiatry or psychotherapy. Glimpses from the long stone corridor of Frien Barnet into vast bare wards inhabited by patients in striped hospital clothing (or has memory conflated this with images of Belsen?) and demonstrations of cases of, rather than of people with, echolalia or mania or ‘general paralysis of the insane’ (dementia paralytica), which were my student introduction to psychiatry, were aversive rather than attractive. But many of the values and attitudes which have shaped my later attitudes to psychiatry were already evident, rooted in the belief that the most destructive war in history should prepare the way for a juster world, and influenced by my father's enthusiastic advocacy of the National Health Service (NHS) and by his move from clinical to social medicine, a move through which he sought ‘to study the ultimate as well as the intimate causes of disease∗.
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