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
Joel Edgerton, John Turturro and Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film Ridley Scott reveals truth behind casting decisions of Exodus
Arts and Entertainment
An unseen image of Kurt Cobain at home featured in the film 'Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck'
filmThe singers widow and former bandmates have approved project
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden and Edwina Currie are joining the I'm A Celebrity...Get Me Out Of Here! camp
Arts and Entertainment
George Mpanga has been shortlisted for the Critics’ Choice prize
Arts and Entertainment
Roisin, James and Sanjay in the boardroom
tvReview: This week's failing project manager had to go
Arts and Entertainment
Carrie Hope Fletcher
booksFirst video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Arts and Entertainment
Damien Hirst
artCoalition's anti-culture policy and cuts in local authority spending to blame, says academic
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
A comedy show alumni who has gone on to be a big star, Jon Stewart
tvRival television sketch shows vie for influential alumni
Arts and Entertainment
Jason goes on a special mission for the queen
tvReview: Everyone loves a CGI Cyclops and the BBC's Saturday night charmer is getting epic
Arts and Entertainment
Image has been released by the BBC
Arts and Entertainment
Will there ever be a Friends reunion?
Harry Hill plays the Professor in the show and hopes it will help boost interest in science among young people
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
A Van Gogh sold at Sotheby’s earlier this month
Arts and Entertainment

MusicThe band accidentally called Londoners the C-word

Arts and Entertainment
It would 'mean a great deal' to Angelina Jolie if she won the best director Oscar for Unbroken

Film 'I've never been comfortable on-screen', she says

Arts and Entertainment
Winnie the Pooh has been branded 'inappropriate' in Poland
Arts and Entertainment
Lee Evans is quitting comedy to spend more time with his wife and daughter

Arts and Entertainment
American singer, acclaimed actor of stage and screen, political activist and civil rights campaigner Paul Robeson (1898 - 1976), rehearses in relaxed mood at the piano.
filmSinger, actor, activist, athlete: Paul Robeson was a cultural giant. But prejudice and intolerance drove him to a miserable death. Now his story is to be told in film...
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift is dominating album and singles charts worldwide

Arts and Entertainment
Kieron Richardson plays gay character Ste Hay in Channel 4 soap Hollyoaks

Arts and Entertainment
Midge Ure and Sir Bob Geldof outside the Notting Hill recording studios for Band Aid 30

Arts and Entertainment
Look out: Broad shoulders take Idris Elba’s DCI John Luther a long way
tvIdris Elba will appear in two special episodes for the BBC next year
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.

    Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

    Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

    It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
    Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

    Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

    The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
    Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

    Sarkozy returns

    The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
    Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

    Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

    Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
    Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

    Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

    Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game
    There's a Good Girl exhibition: How female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising

    In pictures: There's a Good Girl exhibition

    The new exhibition reveals how female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising
    UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover - from advent calendars to doll's houses

    UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover

    It worked with cupcakes, doughnuts and macarons so no wonder someone decided to revamp the humble biscuit
    Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

    Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

    It's no surprise that the building game born in Sweden in 2009 and now played by millions, has imitators keen to construct their own mega money-spinner
    The King's School is way ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology

    Staying connected: The King's School

    The school in Cambridgeshire is ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology. Richard Garner discovers how teachers and pupils stay connected
    Christmas 2014: 23 best women's perfumes

    Festively fragrant: the best women's perfumes

    Give a loved one a luxe fragrance this year or treat yourself to a sensual pick-me-up
    Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain celebrates century with trademark display of speed and intuition

    Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund

    The Ox celebrates century with trademark display of speed and intuition
    Billy Joe Saunders vs Chris Eubank Jnr: When two worlds collide

    When two worlds collide

    Traveller Billy Joe Saunders did not have a pampered public-school upbringing - unlike Saturday’s opponent Chris Eubank Jnr
    Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

    Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

    Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
    Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

    Putin’s far-right ambition

    Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
    Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

    Escape to Moominland

    What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?