Lives of the fellows

David Monas Leiberman

b.7 October 1912 d.24 July 1996
BSc Leeds(1933) MRCS LRCP(1936) MB ChB(1936) MD(1939) MRCP(1940) DPM(1951) FRCP(1971) FRCPsych(1972) FRCPC(1976)

David Monas Leiberman, known to his family as ‘David’, but as ‘Monty’ to his friends, was a consultant psychiatrist at the Bexley and Greenwich District Hospitals. His interests outside medicine were diverse. He was urbane, gregarious, a connoisseur of wine and good food. He particularly liked eating and preparing Indian food, a taste for which he acquired while serving as a medical specialist in India during the war and later as a WHO specialist at the All India Institute of Mental Health in Bangalore. His cultural concerns ranged from a lifelong devotion to the theatre, to literature and especially to poetry. He regularly attended meetings of the Epsom Poetry Group, which defied its parochial title and boasted among its members such distinguished literati as Philip Oakes and Hubert Nicholson. He was an elegant speaker of verse, helped by a mellifluous voice which, despite his exposure to the gentrifying influence of decades of living in the south, retained to the end overtones of a Yorkshire accent.

Monty was born into a highly-respected Jewish family in Hull, although he himself was not religious. His father, Samuel Henry Leiberman, was a shopkeeper, while his mother, Rebecca Gertrude Dobson, the daughter of an oil mill engineer, was a convert to Judaism. David was educated at Hymer’s College, Hull, and studied medicine at Leeds where he was an outstanding student. He was one of a tiny elite chosen annually on the results of the second MB examination to read for an honours degree in physiology which he duly obtained in 1933.

He gained his early postgraduate clinical experience at the Bradford Royal Infirmary, Walsall General Hospital and the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle Upon Tyne where he served as a medical registrar and clinical tutor. In 1941 he was commissioned into the RAMC as a graded medical specialist. He saw service in the UK and in India and rose to the rank of major. After demobilization in 1946 he was appointed as a registrar at the Postgraduate Medical School, Hammersmith, a post he held for two years.

In 1948 he finally decided on a career in psychiatry and served as a registrar, and later as a senior registrar, at the Maudsley Hospital. He was appointed as a consultant to Bexley Hospital and Greenwich District Hospital in 1951. Apart from two years service in India in the fifties under the auspices of WHO, he held these posts until he retired from the NHS in 1976. Far from coming to an end his career took on a new lease of life when he was elected visiting professor in psychiatry to the faculty of medicine, Memorial University, St John’s, Newfoundland. He retired finally in 1983 after seven years of doing what he enjoyed most - teaching.

David Leiberman held several important administrative positions in the Bexley Hospital group and was in turn secretary, and then chairman, of the south east division of the Royal Medico-Psychological Association, the precursor of the Royal College of Psychiatrists. He was a member of many learned societies and the author, singly and jointly, of innumerable scientific papers, mainly concerned with electroencephalography and psychopharmacology.

On his return from Canada he chose, rather surprisingly, to live a somewhat secluded life in rural Norfolk. His health slowly deteriorated. His penchant for the delights of the table had taken their toll, evidence of which was all too readily visible in his ever-increasing girth which in later life gave him a distinctly Pickwickian profile. He married Lucy Helen Stone in 1940. They had three sons and a daughter.

Henry R Rollin

[Brit.med.J., 1996,313,749]

(Volume X, page 298)

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