Aubrey Lewis: in his own words
Unlike most influential figures in twentieth century psychiatry, Aubrey Lewis wrote no books. He did, however, produce a large number of articles, on topics ranging from melancholia, schizophrenia and psychoanalysis to Shakespeare and Judaism, always with elegant precision and wit.
'Hypochrondrical phenomena were not uncommon; 53% of all cases were preoccupied with their symptoms unduly; they exaggerated their sensations and studied themselves with zealous care'
Article by Aubrey Lewis and Maxwell Jones, 'Effort syndrome’, offprint from The Lancet, 28 Jun 1941
'The Army needs men sound in mind and body: it is not to be considered a corrective institution for psychopaths'
Typescript article on the psychological and psychiatric testing of Army recruits, 16 Jul 1941
'But, like the amoeba, psychiatry has shown itself capable, deplorably capable, now and again, of forming around itself a cystwall within which it waits very passively for better times; and like the amoeba it often moves by a very unobtrusive flow of its substance into some pseudopod or other which may just as unobtrusively vanish while you are looking somewhere else'
Draft/lecture, 1954, 'Modern trends in Psychiatry'
'The story in its broad outline is familiar and dramatic, like the story of slavery. After the tortures and judicial murders of the Middle Ages and Renaissance, which confounded demoniacal possession with delusion and frenzy, and smelt out witchcraft in the maunderings of demented old women, there were the cruelties and degradation of the mad houses of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, in which authority used chains and whips as its instruments. Humanitarian effort put an end to the abuses. Pinel in France, Chiarugi in Italy, Tuke in England inaugurated an era of kindness and medical care, which prepared the way for a rational, humane approach to the mastery of mental illness'
Review, 'The story of unreason', TLS, 6 Oct 1961, quoted in TLS review of Inquiries in psychiatry, 1967
'In this College it is taken for granted that psychiatry has its place within the medical family – a wayward member perhaps, a prodigal who has taken his journey into a far country – but still one of the family. It is through its place in the roomy household of medicine, and its intimacy with many sciences, social and biological, that psychiatry can find the best assurance of increase by studying out the secrets of nature'
From Harveian Oration, Royal College of Physicians, London, 1963
'In their normal setting, mammals do not engage in overt, uninhibited fighting against others of their own species. Fighting is restrained and controlled, it stops short of actual injury, and conforms to strict rules; evolutionary forces have anticipated the Marquess of Queensbury'
Article, 'Man and beast', Times Literary Supplement, 23 Sep 1965
'Professor Eysenck is a psychologist well known for his many valuable contributions to the study of personality in its varied aspects, and for his lively polemical writing, as spirited and forthright in defence as in attack, and firmly based on the principle of tit for tat'
Review, 'Cancer country', re H J Eysenck, 'Smoking, health and personality' (Basic Books, 1966, in New York Review of Books