Lives of the fellows

Ian Duncan Chisholm

b.25 Jan 1929 d.10 May 2004
BA Oxon(1953) MA(1955) MB BS Lond(1960) MRCP(1963) DPM(1966) MRCPsych(1971) FRCP(1980) FRCPsych(1981)

Ian Duncan Chisholm was a consultant psychiatrist in Bristol. A tall, striking figure, he had perfect manners and a knack for putting people at ease. He was educated at Downside School and Brasenose College, Oxford, where he read classics. He went on to do his National Service in the Life Guards, where he was the only National Service man to become an assistant adjutant. Later, he took the fateful decision to change to medicine.

As a young man he was a passenger in a light aircraft with a party of friends returning from Monte Carlo. The plane developed engine trouble, and ditched in the Channel. While escaping through a gap in the fuselage, Duncan tore his life jacket. Without its protection he had to swim much more vigorously than his colleagues, and this exertion saved his life. A passing tanker eventually picked him up. This story always gave Duncan a certain cachet when he became a medical student.

He worked at St Thomas's as a medical student in the late fifties, and tended to stand a little apart from his fellow students, as he was older and more mature than they were. He was awarded the Henry Myers exhibition in psychological medicine and the Lord Riddell medical prize shortly before qualifying. He passed his membership of the College at his first attempt.

Like many St Thomas's men whose interest in psychiatry was largely due to William Sargant's [Munk's Roll, Vol.VIII, p.434] teaching, he opted to train at the Maudsley (from 1963 to 1968). While there, his kindness and sympathy with the mentally ill was universally appreciated. His dissertation, on psychiatric aspects of hyperthyroidism, betrayed his lifelong interest in medical disease. Later he was to write up aspects of renal transplantation. A later paper was concerned with sexual problems in marriage.

He took up his consultant appointment at Barrow and Southmead Hospital, Bristol, and ran an unusually high quality clinical service. He also had a special interest in community psychiatric nursing. He was a natural teacher, and was appointed as a clinical teacher at the University of Bristol. As a Gilliland travelling fellow of the College he visited the USA and toured community mental health centres, as well as the NIMH. He was a trustee of the Leonard Cheshire Foundation.

He married the honourable Annabelle Jane Hennessy, and they had four sons. His family life was exceptionally close and warm, and a visit to his house was an unforgettable experience.

David Goldberg

[References:Brit.med.J.,2004,329,34]

(Volume XII, page web)

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