Lives of the fellows

Alick Cyril Elithorn

b.16 December 1920 d.16 April 2013
MB BChir Cantab(1946) MRCP(1946) DPM(1950) MD(1956) FRCP(1973)

Alick Cyril Elithorn was a consultant in psychological medicine at the Royal Free Hospital, London. Born in Portsmouth, he was the son of Hadrian Elithorn, a civil servant, and his wife, Margaret Rose née Denew, the daughter of a businessman. Educated at Glengorse Preparatory School and Charterhouse, he studied medicine at Cambridge and University College Hospital.

Qualifying in 1946, he did house jobs at the Whittington and Maudsley hospitals from 1946 to 1947. He had done pre-qualification work at the National Hospital for Nervous Diseases and continued to work there as a member of the neurological research unit until 1956, apart from 1950 to 1952 when he did his National Service, enlisting with the RAF as a specialist in neuropsychiatry. From 1955 to 1956 he also worked as a registrar in the children’s department of the Maudsley.

Appointed a consultant in psychological medicine at the National Hospital for Nervous Diseases, Maida Vale in 1956, at the same time he became a member of the external scientific staff of the Medical Research Council. The following year he joined the staff of the Royal Free Hospital as a consultant. From 1956 to 1968 he was a lecturer in psychopathology at the University of Reading and, from 1970, an honorary research associate of the Institute of Computer Science.

Acknowledged to possess a truly creative and original mind, he had a unique ability to create computer programmes for conducting psychological and neuropsychological assessment. His daughter later recalled that, as children, his family were often guinea pigs and made to sit doing endless maze and c-tests. The author of numerous papers on migraine, epilepsy, depression and child psychiatry, clinical psychology and computer science, he also contributed to a book on artificial intelligence and one on automated psychological testing.

Passionate about board games and their history, he invented a new one which he called Advice and claimed it was far superior to chess. Another passion was computers and he was a keen programmer. He also loved theatre, literature, politics, and, his daughter recalled, ‘bought Morris Minors as if they were going out of fashion’. Once he invited a homeless man to share his house ‘as an experiment’ and ‘always had bizarre concoctions of food bubbling on his stove’. On losing custody of the children of his first marriage, he founded the campaign group ‘Families need fathers’.

In 1945 he married Helen Christina (always known as ‘Wendy’) Grant [Munk’s Roll, Vo.XII, web]. She was the daughter of Donald Grant, an academic, and they had two children, Justin and Clare. The marriage ended in divorce and he married Sheila May née Pusinelli, whose father Lennox, was in the Army. When he died, he was survived by his sons, Justin and Cavendish, daughter Amanda (Kitner) and five grandchildren. His daughter, Clare, a radiologist, predeceased him.

RCP editor

[Amanda Elithorn’s blog – accessed 20 November 2015]

(Volume XII, page web)

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