Obituary: Dr John Padel

JOHN PADEL was one of the most revered and literary of senior psychoanalysts in Britain.

He thought, worked, taught and wrote within what is known as the "Independent" tradition in British psychoanalysis, as distinct from the Klein Group or the Contemporary Freudian Group. His thought owed much to Ronald Fairbairn and D.W. Winnicott; and his teaching of Freud, whose ideas he both loved and was critical of, is thought by his students to have been especially inspiring. For many, he opened the door to a truly human understanding of the complex and baffling concepts in psychoanalytic thought. He was erudite, with his knowledge of classics and English literature.

Padel came from the North, from Carlisle. He studied Classics at Queen's College, Oxford, on a Hastings Scholarship and then taught Classics as a schoolmaster until 1949 when, at the age of 36, he decided to switch career and train as doctor, and then psychoanalyst. He took the necessary exams to get into medical school and from 1950 to 1955 studied at Middlesex Hospital Medical School, where he became a houseman. He also began training at the British Psycho-Analytical Society. In 1957 he became House Medical Officer at Shenley Psychiatric Hospital, Hertfordshire, and in 1959 Psychiatric Registrar at St Mary's Hospital, Paddington.

In 1960 he began his long and fruitful relationship with the Tavistock Clinic as Senior Registrar and Lecturer: seeing patients, running groups, supervising, and lecturing on the development of psychoanalytic theory. He was an enormously charismatic and revelatory teacher, devoting great time and thought to his students. His famous series of introductory lectures on the history of psychoanalysis was made the more vivid by the fact that he always managed to lose the texts through the year - probably on purpose, since he insisted on rewriting the lot for each new year of students.

From 1969 until 1977 he was Deputy Director of the London Clinic of Psycho- Analysis, at the Institute of Psycho-Analysis, and from 1973 to 1979 Senior Lecturer in Psychiatry at the Maudsley Hospital, where he taught clinical psychotherapy.

For 30 years up to his retirement in 1994, he also practised privately as a psychotherapist. He was a popular lecturer internationally - in Rome and Bologna, in the United States and Japan. He often illustrated these lectures and papers by references and quotations to poets and composers: to Yeats, Donne, Haydn, the Greek and Latin poets, and above all Shakespeare. He was a serious follower of contemporary poetry - his modern poetry library was extensive - and in 1981 he published a book on Shakespeare with the fighting title New Poems by Shakespeare, suggesting a new interpretation through re-ordering the Sonnets and supporting his argument with detailed historical evidence.

While he was working on New Poems by Shakespeare, colleagues who were interested in his researches waited impatiently to hear the next stage of his part detective work/part psychological analysis of the texts and the history. There were puzzles and dilemmas, and I recall his summing up of the process, at a time when he had just made a breakthrough with a particularly troubling problem. He said: "It isn't really so much about answers . . . it's about asking the right questions."

The theme of the book is the notion that the Sonnet sequence arose in the aftermath of the death of Shakespeare's son, and thus the emphasis in the poems is on the parents' concern that the son should marry and produce children. It is an inspired insight. The book remained controversial, receiving less attention than he had hoped for from scholars, some of whom thought that the detailed working-out of the theme was too intricate to bear the weight of theory.

John Padel's thoughtfulness, generosity and imaginative relating to students and to young analysts was remarkable, and memorable. He took people on in a non-intrusive way, whether referring a patient, commenting on a paper, or responding to a request for help with a difficult clinical or theoretical problem. Such generosity from so distinguished a figure in the field helped many a young analyst to find his/her feet at a critical early stage in a career.

Linked with this generosity was his courtesy. This was not simply a matter of manners. He was a gentleman; a term now more often ascribed to mannerliness than to the substance of real consideration for the other. Such courtesy might be meant, in its more 16th- or 17th- century sense, as denoting what belongs to the true Renaissance man. Padel's courtesy was the bedrock from which came his work as a physician, a psychoanalyst, a scholar, a musician; as a remarkable friend and colleague; and, of course, essentially as a husband and father. He had an extraordinary capacity to celebrate learning in all forms, and this had an infectious quality, so that his enthusiasm brought forth an answering response in oneself.

He played the cello from early childhood, and played quartets regularly every week until his last illness. He met his wife Hilda Barlow, a clarinettist, at Bernard Robinson's Music Camp and he brought up his children - as he and his brothers and sister were brought up - to play stringed instruments and chamber music. On his 84th birthday he played Brahms and Dvork String Sextets with all his children.

John Hunter Padel, psychoanalyst: born Carlisle 3 May 1913; Psychiatric Registrar, St Mary's Hospital, Paddington 1959-60; Registrar, Tavistock Clinic 1960-62, Senior Registrar 1962-64, Lecturer and Honorary Consultant 1965-79; Deputy Director, London Clinic of Psycho-Analysis 1969-77; Senior Lecturer in Psychiatry, Maudsley Hospital 1973-79; married 1944 Hilda Barlow (three sons, two daughters); died Oxford 24 October 1999.

Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Fearne Cotton is leaving Radio 1 after a decade

Arts and Entertainment
The light stuff: Britt Robertson and George Clooney in ‘Tomorrowland: a World Beyond’
film review
Arts and Entertainment
Reawakening: can Jon Hamm’s Don Draper find enlightenment in the final ‘Mad Men’?
tv reviewNot quite, but it's an enlightening finale for Don Draper spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Breakfast Show’s Nick Grimshaw

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
I am flute: Azeem Ward and his now-famous instrument
Arts and Entertainment
A glass act: Dr Chris van Tulleken (left) and twin Xand get set for their drinking challenge
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
MIA perform at Lovebox 2014 in London Fields, Hackney

Arts and Entertainment
Finnish punk band PKN hope to enter Eurovision 2015 and raise awareness for Down's Syndrome

Arts and Entertainment
William Shakespeare on the cover of John Gerard's The Herball or Generall Historie of Plantes

Arts and Entertainment

Game of Thrones review
Arts and Entertainment
Grayson Perry dedicates his Essex home to Julie

Potter's attempt to create an Essex Taj Mahal was a lovely treat

Arts and Entertainment
A scene from the original Swedish version of the sci-fi TV drama ‘Real Humans’
Arts and Entertainment
Hugh Keays-Byrne plays Immortan Joe, the terrifying gang leader, in the new film
filmActor who played Toecutter returns - but as a different villain in reboot
Arts and Entertainment
Charlize Theron as Imperator Furiosa in Mad Max: Fury Road
Arts and Entertainment
Jessica Hynes in W1A
tvReview: Perhaps the creators of W1A should lay off the copy and paste function spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Power play: Mitsuko Uchida in concert

Arts and Entertainment
Dangerous liaisons: Dominic West, Jake Richard Siciliano, Maura Tierney and Leya Catlett in ‘The Affair’ – a contradictory drama but one which is sure to reel the viewers in
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Herring, pictured performing at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival two years ago
Arts and Entertainment
Music freak: Max Runham in the funfair band
Arts and Entertainment
film 'I felt under-used by Hollywood'
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

    Sun, sex and an anthropological study

    One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
    From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

    Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

    'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
    'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

    Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

    This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

    Songs from the bell jar

    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
    How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

    One man's day in high heels

    ...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
    The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

    King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

    The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

    End of the Aussie brain drain

    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
    Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

    Can meditation be bad for you?

    Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
    Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

    Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

    Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
    Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

    Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

    Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
    Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

    Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

    Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
    Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

    Join the tequila gold rush

    The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
    12 best statement wallpapers

    12 best statement wallpapers

    Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
    Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

    Paul Scholes column

    Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?