By: Georgina Ferry | Alwyn Lishman obituary | Neuroscience | The Guardian
Neuropsychiatrist who brought brain and mind together in studies of mental health
Alwyn Lishman liked to tell people that he wrote his classic textbook Organic Psychiatry (1978) only because the £500 advance would enable him to buy the Bechstein grand piano that he coveted. Yet he put his heart and soul into it, setting the subject of neuropsychiatry on a new footing, and trained generations of successors to approach mental illness with insights from both brain and mind.
Trained in neurology and psychiatry, Lishman, who has died aged 89, was not the first to bridge the two subjects. There was a strong tradition among German neurologists of the late-19th century to look for underlying physical causes for conditions such as dementia and schizophrenia. But when he qualified in medicine in postwar Britain, Lishman found that neurology had little to say about the mind, while psychiatry was strongly influenced by psychoanalysis. He made it his mission to build a new discipline that combined the two. While using newly available techniques to explore abnormalities in the brain, he rooted his practice in psychiatry, listening to his patients and taking their circumstances into account.