John Birtchnell

John Birtchnell - Honorary Senior Lecturer

Institute of Psychiatry
DeCrespigny Park, Denmark Hill
London SE5 8AF, UK


Career Summary

Immediately after graduation, moved to Liverpool (House Physician in Psychiatry [observation wards], Sefton General Hospital, January-August, 1960). Moved to Walton Hospital, Liverpool. (House Surgeon in Neurosurgery, September, 1960-February, 1961; S.H.O. in Neurology, March-August, 1961; S.H.O. in Psychiatry [mostly out-patient psychotherapy], September, 1961-August, 1962).

Moved to Dumfries, Scotland (Registrar, Crichton Royal Hospital, September, 1962-November, 1964) Obtained DPM and started to collect data for MD. Moved to Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire [place of birth] (Senior Registrar, St John's Hospital, Stone, November, 1964-November, 1966) Last NHS appointment.

Completed MD study. Moved to Aberdeen to do a one-year (November, 1966-November, 1967), full-time course in psychotherapy at the Ross Clinic and the Department of Mental Health, with an honorary Senior Registrar appointment and supported by a Medical Research Council Award for Further Education in the Medical Sciences.

Stayed in Aberdeen (Mental Health Research Unit) to do the first two years (December, 1967-December, 1969) of a three-year MRC Clinical Research Fellowship, drawing upon data accumulated in the North East of Scotland Psychiatric Case Register. Made a film on the art productions of a young man with dysmorphophobia.

In 1970, moved to the MRC Clinical Research Unit in Chichester, West Sussex to complete the third year of the Fellowship. Retained in the Unit as a Scientific Officer on a three-year contract.

In 1973, awarded a permanent MRC contract and made an honorary consultant psychiatrist. Carried out a community study of 40-49 year old women, with John Kennard, another Unit member and Jackie Powell, from the Department of Sociology at Southampton University.

In 1982, on the retirement of the Unit Director, moved to the MRC Social Psychiatry Unit at the Institute of Psychiatry in London. Made an honorary Senior Lecturer at the Institute and an honorary Consultant Psychiatrist at the Maudsley Hospital. Carried out a new community study of 23-34 year old married women and their husbands in Thamesmead, South London.

In 1989, the Unit became the Social and Community Psychiatry Unit, with a new director.

From 1990 to the present developed a number of instruments for the measurement of relating and used them in research into individual psychotherapy and couple therapy. Began work on How Humans Relate.

In 1992, retired from the MRC but retained the honorary contract at the Institute of Psychiatry. How Humans Relate first published in 1993. Paperback version published in 1996. Began work on Relating in Psychotherapy in 1995. First published in 1999. Paperback version  published in 2002. Began working on The Two of Me in 2000. Published in 2003.

Personal History

Born 8th April, 1932, Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire. An only child. Mother also an only child. Father, the younger of two sons. His brother never married. Family moved to Gloucester in 1938, where father took up work as a fitter at the Gloucester Aircraft Company (making Hurricanes). He was never called up.

Educated at Longleavens Junior School and Sir Thomas Rich's School, Gloucester. Studied medicine at Edinburgh University. Married first, to Rosemary Niven, in 1961. This marriage effectively ended in 1968. Married again, to Sandra Floyd, in 1973. Two sons, Tom and William born in 1973 and 1975. Father died, 1979. Mother died, 1984. Wife a consultant psychiatrist in Chichester.