Lives of the fellows

Charles Michael Bromiley Pare

b.29 October 1925 d.3 July 2002
MB BCh Cantab(1948) MRCP(1950) MD(1956) DPM(1957) FRCP(1968) FRCPsych(1971) Hon FRCPsych(1987)

Michael Pare was a research psychopharmacologist at St Bartholomew’s Hospital, London, and a greatly respected clinical psychiatrist. He started his research career in the 1950s with one of the first trials of iproniazid for depression and ended, in the 1980s, with a landmark review of the now neglected monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs). In between he showed how amitriptyline helped to protect patients from the so-called “cheese effect” (it had been shown that patients taking MAOIs may be affected by the tyramine in cheese, raising blood pressure to dangerously high levels), as well as other pharmacological research, especially with Merton Sandler. Other work included an influential prospective study of the psychological effect of termination of pregnancy.

Michael Pare was born in Bolton, Lancashire, where his father, Frank William Pare, was a general practitioner. His mother was Florence Bromily née Lee. He read medicine at Cambridge and the Middlesex, and joined the Maudsley Hospital after his general medical training. Sir Aubrey Lewis [Munk’s Roll, Vol.VI, p.284] tried hard to keep Michael there for a career in research, even suggesting that pin striped trousers was all that a career at Bart’s would produce. But Michael was not a man to be persuaded away from clinical psychiatry.

He was a respected and effective clinician at Bart’s, who was often asked to look after his own colleagues and their families - the greatest compliment a doctor can be paid. He had great charm and showed infinite patience with his patients, which made his patients trust him. He taught a great number of medical and nursing students at Bart’s, often teaching through a haze of pipe smoke, as he contemplated the student’s efforts with never a hint of negative criticism. Michael had the knack of getting on with all those with whom he worked. I cannot remember him criticising any colleague. Many juniors found him a great encouragement in their careers. It could be said that he preferred to put others ahead of himself, and was careful to keep a balance between clinical and academic medicine. The addition of his college activities made him a truly rounded doctor.

He was an important and innovative foundation fellow of the Royal College of Psychiatrists. He served as chairman of the scientific meetings committee and was college treasurer from 1979 to 1986. But it was as the first director of public education (from 1986 to 1988) that he moved the college to satisfy the third of its aims that it had previously ignored - to educate the public in matters of mental health. He did this with style, charm and determination, in spite of significant resistance within the college. He set up the first such committee of any medical college and the number of good news stories mentioning mental health and the college soon went from seven in the previous five years to dozens a month. Respected health journalists commented at the time that psychiatrists were the most organised and news productive of all the medical colleges. The success of this public education initiative prepared the way for the Defeat Depression campaign that soon followed. He was awarded an honorary fellowship in 1987.

He wrote three books: A practical introduction to psychiatry (London, J & A Churchill) in 1964, The scientific basis of drug therapy in psychiatry (Oxford, Pergamon Press) in 1965 with John Marks, and A concise encyclopaedia of psychiatry (Lancaster, MIT Press) in 1977 with John Marks and Denis Leigh [Munk’s Roll, Vol.XI, p.330].

Outside medicine, Michael enjoyed both the passion of opera and the companionship of golf, representing the Medical Golfing Society on several visits to America. After retiring from Bart’s in 1984, he developed a successful private and medico-legal practice. He developed lymphoma early in 2002, but still managed to see his last patient in May. He leaves his wife, Barbara née Cowell, one son and two daughters.

Peter White

[Brit.med.J.,2002,325,1041]

(Volume XII, page web)

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