Lives of the fellows

Emanuel Moran

b.13 May 1928 d.18 August 2017
BA Cantab(1950) BChir(1953) MB(1954) MRCP(1959) DPM(1962) FRCPsych(1971) FRCP(1982)

Emanuel Moran was a consultant psychiatrist at the North Middlesex, Claybury and Chase Farm hospitals. He was an international expert on pathological gambling, and was first to describe the construct.

After attending Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge, he received his clinical training at Guy’s Hospital. In 1956, he went to the Whittington Hospital to pursue further training in neurology. In 1960, he commenced training in psychiatry at the Maudsley Hospital, where he remained for the next five years. For some time, he worked on the professorial unit under Sir Aubrey Lewis [Munk’s Roll, Vol.VI, p.284] and it was during this attachment that he firmly established the foundations for his future practice as a psychiatrist.

Whilst at the Maudsley, he observed that a large proportion of patients who had attempted suicide did so in the context of experiencing severe gambling problems. He studied 50 such patients and delineated the characteristics of their disorder.

After completing his training at the Maudsley, he continued his research into the psychiatric, psychological and social characteristics of gambling. At the same time, he was the consultant psychiatrist to a busy inpatient and outpatient service in a deprived area of north east London. He enjoyed all aspects of psychiatry and was eager to spread knowledge of the latest treatments to non-medical staff. For many years, he gave lectures to the Probation Service and subsequently to social workers on aspects of psychiatry. He derived great satisfaction from training young doctors who were on his team.

In the 1960s, he met the Reverend Gordon Moody and through him became heavily involved in Gamblers Anonymous, attending meetings all over London. He advised the Home Office prior to the establishment of the Royal Commission on Gambling in 1974. Acting as specialist adviser to the Royal College of Psychiatrists, he wrote several papers which were presented to the Royal Commission, highlighting the vital part that public policy needed to play in limiting the stimulation of gambling.

In 1977, he established the Society for the Study of Gambling, but became disenchanted with the Society when the gambling trade became members. He believed strongly that the organisation should be independent of any possible interested party pressure. Subsequently, he founded he National Council on Gambling.

On behalf of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, he wrote a series of papers commenting on various aspects of public policy and gambling. He concluded that gambling was due to a complex interaction between individual, personal characteristics and social pressures. Notably among the latter, he highlighted a deceptively simple but overlooked fact that the urge to gamble could be triggered by new opportunities, such as the opening of a licensed betting office near the person’s home or place of work.

His campaigning to persuade legislators of their responsibility to avoid stimulating gambling continued until the Gambling Act of 2005. He felt this Act would have, in future years, serious consequences for the welfare of pathological gamblers, their families and society in general.

He acted as an expert witness in the cases of several gamblers who had been charged with fraud and theft to feed their gambling habit. His evidence helped these individuals to receive reduced sentences and, whilst in prison, special treatment for their problem.

From the 1960s until 2016, he wrote copious articles for the national press about the plight of pathological gamblers and the need for adequate legislation. Despite being naturally rather shy, he also appeared on national television and radio, in an attempt to bring the matter to the attention of the wider public.

He contributed many chapters on the diagnosis and treatment of pathological gamblers to academic books on psychiatry, including in Principles and practice of forensic psychiatry Churchill Livingstone, 1990 and the New Oxford textbook of psychiatry Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2000 (second edition, 2009).

His greatest satisfaction came from two papers both published in 1970 that brought the topic of pathological gambling to much wider attention. These were ‘Varieties of pathological gambling’ Br J Psychiatry 1970 Jun;116(535):593-7 and ‘Gambling as a form of dependence’ Br J Addict Alcohol Other Drugs 1970 Jan;64(3):419-28. Subsequent to the publication of these two papers, the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) and the World Health Organization included the term ‘pathological gambling’ in their classifications of psychiatric disorders.

In the 1970s, his health deteriorated. At one time, he was told that he had only weeks to live, but with the support of his family, he found the strength to continue his work. Despite suffering considerable discomfort and pain for the rest of his life, he did not allow his poor health to overwhelm him. His father, Israel Moran, had been a Baptist minister and his mother, Eugenia, was also involved in missionary work and this gave him a deep religious faith that sustained him throughout his life.

He had decided to become a doctor when, as a teenager, he read A J Cronin’s The citadel (1937), which described the appalling medical services that existed prior to the setting up of the NHS. All through his career, he was passionate about the NHS and, as a dedicated clinician, determined at all times to provide the most beneficial care for patients. During the 1980s, he became increasingly concerned about the state of the NHS and became chairman of the medical executive committee at Chase Farm Hospital, where he worked with close colleagues from all the medical disciplines to ensure the best use of scarce resources.

In later years, he and his wife Jane (née Owens) bought a flat near the sea in Kent. He loved to take his dog for long walks along the cliffs and developed an interest in photography, spending hours photographing the wildlife on the cliffs and marshes.

He was an extremely resilient and kind man who continued actively working for the rights of pathological gamblers until the year before he died. He adored his family and nothing delighted him more than seeing his two sons grow up and succeed in their chosen careers. Paul followed in his footsteps becoming a psychiatrist. David became a teacher.

Jane Moran

[BJPsych Bulletin, 42(4), 177-178 – accessed 15 November 2018]

(Volume XII, page web)

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