Lives of the fellows

Edward Mapother

b.12 July 1881 d.20 March 1940
MB Lond(1905) MD Lond(1908) FRCS(1910) MRCP(1920) FRCP(1927)

Edward Mapother’s father, Professor Edward Dillon Mapother, surgeon to St. Vincent’s Hospital, Dublin, and president of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, moved to London when his son was seven. Edward had his education at University College and University College Hospital. His choice of mental hospital work, to give him time to read for his F.R.C.S., determined his career, for his interest in psychiatry was aroused by his association with Hubert Bond, Bernard Hart and Henry Devine at Longrove Asylum, and developed by his appointment as chief of the neurology department of the Western General Hospital, Stockport, during the last two of his five years’ service with the R.A.M.C, in the First World War.

In 1919 he took over what was for him the ideal post of first medical superintendent of Maudsley Hospital, which, from a centre for the treatment of war neuroses under the Ministry of Pensions, became in 1923 the main institution for treatment, teaching and research in psychiatry. Essentially a general physician, Mapother set out immediately to make a careful collection of data sifted with a scientific discipline and a distrust of everything that savoured of humbug and pedantry.

From 1922 he had been the physician in psychological medicine to King’s College Hospital; now he believed firmly that the advancement of psychiatry required its own postgraduate school, and that the Maudsley should be that school. His efforts were crowned in its recognition by the University of London and in his appointment as the first professor of psychiatry in 1936. In that year he elaborated his views in his Bradshaw lecture to the College, showing he had little time for the theory of psycho-analysis and less for unsupported claims for psychotherapy.

With his eager, dialectical mind he could never remain serene, with the result that, while he was entirely free from rancour and intolerance and ever ready with friendly advice, his scathing criticisms expressed with caustic Irish wit made him a rather formidable figure to students. His official lectures, however, were in more restrained language, showing his austere standards of clinical probity and his intense feeling of responsibility to his profession, so that he did much to remove the unjust reproach of shoddiness then made on psychiatry.

He married Barbara Mary, daughter of C. H. Reynolds. They had no family.

Richard R Trail

[Brit.med.J., 1940, 1, 552-3 (p); Kings Coll. Hosp. Gaz., 1940, 19, 79-80; Lancet, 1940, 1, 624-6 (p), 671; Nature (Lond), 1940, 145, 652-3; Times, 21, 26 Mar. 1940; Lives R.C.S., 529-30.]

(Volume V, page 266)

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