Lives of the fellows

Henry Maudsley

b.5 February 1835 d.23 January 1918
MB Lond(1856) MD Hon LLD Edin FRCP(1869)

Henry Maudsley was born at Rome, near Settle in Yorkshire, the third son of Thomas Maudsley. He was educated first at Giggles-wick School, and then privately at Oundle. As a medical student at University College, London, he won ten gold medals and at the same time took a keen interest in games. After graduating as M.B. in 1856, he became house surgeon to Quain at University College Hospital and, in order to gain the experience of mental diseases necessary for candidates for the I.M.S., which he then contemplated as a career, he obtained two short appointments in asylums. These decided him to devote himself to mental disorder, and he procured the post of medical superintendent at the Manchester Royal Lunatic Hospital in 1859. In 1862 he resigned and settled in London, becoming editor of Mental Science. Two years later he was elected physician to the West London Hospital and, in 1869, professor of medical jurisprudence at University College. In 1870 he gave the Goulstonian Lectures at the Royal College of Physicians.

Through a series of writings, Maudsley exerted great influence on contemporary psychiatric thought. His textbook on The Pathology of Mind appeared in 1867. It showed the influence of Prichard, Griesinger and Esquirol. He held firmly to the opinion that mental diseases were due to disease of the brain, and that it was more important to examine the constitutional diathesis and the bodily changes than the mental symptoms of insanity. The emphasis on heredity or "inborn structure" became stronger in later editions of the work and harked back to Morel’s conception of degeneracy. Maudsley wrote also on medico-legal questions, and was impressed with the need for a more enlightened policy in the early treatment of mental disorder. He wanted to see minute systematic research into the heredity and pathology of mental disease and offered a large sum to the London County Council for the creation of a psychiatric hospital, which should pursue the threefold aim — to be a medical school of the University, a centre for research, and a clinic for the individual treatment of early mental disorder in outpatients as well as inpatients. The Maudsley Hospital was the outcome, though Maudsley died in 1918 before the building could be opened for its destined purpose. His later writings such as Organic to Human (1916) and Religion and Realities (1918), prepared while he was living in retirement at Bushey, expressed his materialist philosophy with much vigour of thought and style. Maudsley married Ann Caroline, daughter of John Conolly, F.R.C.P. They had no children.

G H Brown

[Lancet, 1918; B.M.J., 1918]

(Volume IV, page 172)

<< Back to List