Lives of the fellows

Kenneth Lawrence Granville-Grossman

b.12 June 1929 d.6 March 2000
MB BS Lond(1952) MRCS LRCP(1952) MRCP(1955) DPM(1962) MD(1965) MRCPsych(1971) FRCP(1972) FRCPsych(1974)

Some would claim that psychiatrists who have obtained a MRCP by examination are failed physicians. In Kenneth's case, nothing could be further from the truth. His major interest was always psychiatry but he believed passionately that psychiatry was an integral part of mainstream medicine and that a thorough knowledge of medicine was an essential basis for the furtherance of psychiatry.

Born in London, he attended University College School prior to his undergraduate medical training at University College Hospital. His undergraduate career was interrupted by a tuberculous pleural effusion in the days before the availability of chemotherapy. Fortunately, four months of enforced rest on a cold veranda was followed by a full recovery. He then managed to pick up three major prizes before qualifying.

He had always been interested in psychiatry and after his preregistration posts, he worked in the psychiatric observation ward at UCH. The lack of effective treatments at that time appalled him and he returned to general medicine and obtained the MRCP. The arrival of chlorpromazine and imipramine reawakened his interest in psychiatry and he began his psychiatric training at the Maudsley Hospital in 1960, progressing through the ranks from SHO to senior registrar. At this early stage he felt the need to experience a range of approaches to the subject and for some years undertook a training analysis. He finally came to the conclusion that a purely dynamic view was unsustainable and took a wider, more eclectic perspective.

He moved from the Maudsley to St Bartholomew's as a lecturer. There he did pioneering work on the use of beta-blockers in psychiatry. This research led to the award of the bronze medal of the Royal Medico-Psychological Association in 1965.

His first consultant appointment was in 1965 at Queen Elizabeth II hospital, Welwyn Garden City to open one of the first district general hospital psychiatric units to be built. In 1967 he was appointed to the staff at St Mary's Hospital and Medical School. Here the more academic atmosphere spurred him to embark on the series Recent advances in clinical psychiatry [Edinburgh/New York, Churchill Livingstone] for which he will be long remembered. The first edition, of which he was the sole author, appeared in 1971 and was an instant success. The series progressed to eight editions, of which he was the editor and a major contributor. Successive editions were required reading for a generation of aspirants for the membership of the Royal College of Psychiatrists.

Kenneth published widely, with early contributions on affective disorders, the aetiology of schizophrenia and adrenergic mechanisms in anxiety. In the eighties, St Mary's was a major centre dealing with the burgeoning problem of AIDS and he provided the liaison service to the department of genito-urinary medicine, developing an interest and expertise in the psychiatric problems associated with it. This led to further contributions to the literature.

He was a true 'scholar'. His natural habitat was the library and the study but he did function at a high level in other environments. He was one of the prime movers in expanding the role of psychiatry at St Mary's. When he arrived, the department consisted of two very part-time consultants sharing seven inpatient beds on the general medical wards of the hospital. With colleagues, he found funding for the creation of an academic department in the early seventies and thereafter actively supported the massive expansion of psychiatric services to St Mary's and the local community.

At an early age he served on the Council and then on the Court of Electors of the Royal College of Psychiatrists. For eleven years he was the regional adviser in psychiatry to the North West Thames Region. For the DHSS, he served on the committee for the review of medicines from 1984 to 1986. One commitment he particularly enjoyed was being the psychiatrist to the Crown Colony of Gibraltar from 1970 until his retirement. He had many friends there and became a fluent speaker of Spanish.

He had a deep interest in the process of writing, an occupation he patently enjoyed. After his retirement, he attended many courses on creative writing both in the UK and the USA. He was engaged in a project at the time of his death. In 1988 another deep interest surfaced which astonished his friends. He took up flying, soon obtaining a pilots licence and thereafter logging many hours of solo flight.

Kenneth was a gentle and scholarly man. He was a reliable and very supportive colleague. Over the years, he took a great interest in the careers of the juniors who worked with him. Many kept in touch with him and will testify to his support and help. His erudition and knowledge of the psychiatric literature was hugely impressive and was available to any who cared to ask. Initially, Kenneth could perhaps give the impression of being a little reserved but beneath this was a capacity for deep and lasting friendship.

He was deeply attached to his family and leaves a son and two daughters plus two grandchildren on whom he doted.

Clive Tonks

(Volume XI, page 229)

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