OBITUARY: Dr Richard Mackarness

Richard Mackarness was a physician of great vision, a man of original mind who, though much frustrated by the sceptics in his own profession, fought with some success for the recognition in Britain of "Clinical Ecology". By his own example and as a doctor bringing relief to many people, he established that food allergies can be the cause of a variety of illnesses.

In Not All in the Mind (1976), Mackarness described the case of Joanna D, a young woman patient referred to him for treatment in May 1973. She had been admitted to hospital many times following outbreaks of violence to herself and her children. Dietary treatment restored her completely to a normal life free of drugs. She remains a splendid vindication of Mackarness's cause.

The Lancet commented on his methods, results and conclusions on 3 February 1979:

Clearly food intolerance can produce widespread symptoms in susceptible individuals, and many patients with troublesome and hitherto intractable symptoms can now be helped.

Not All in the Mind was a kind of "do-it-yourself" manual for those who suffered food- related allergies but failed to find doctors prepared to take them seriously. The basic principle was for patients to go for several days without their usual foods, and then reintroduce them one by one. If one was the cause of their allergy, they would suffer a strong reaction to it.

Mackarness was born in 1916 in Murree, India, in what is now Pakistan. His parents came originally from Scarborough. His father worked in government service as Conservator of Forests. At the age of six Richard was taken to England to be raised by a widowed aunt with five children, who became as close to him as brothers and sisters. He was educated at Lancing College and at the Westminster Teaching Hospital.

He then temporarily abandoned medicine for a course in drawing and painting at the Westminster Art School. There followed a short spell in Bombay as an illustrator and artist for the J. Walter Thompson advertising agency. At the outbreak of the Second World War he returned to Britain to enlist in the Army, but was directed to finish his medical studies. On qualifying in 1941, he was commissioned into the Royal Army Medical Corps and rose to the rank of captain.

After the war he took a number of hospital jobs, then became an illustrator and artistic adviser in an educational film company - where he met his wife, Margaret ("Hitty") Perry-Walker. He returned to full-time medical practice, first in Fulham, and from 1947 in Kew.

His first book, Eat Fat and Grow Slim (1958), exposed the "calorie fallacy" and proposed a non-carbohydrate "Stone Age" diet of protein and fat with no restriction as to the amount eaten. The book was immensely popular and went through six editions. While promoting it in Chicago, Mackarness met Dr Ted Rudolph, the "father" of food and inhalant allergy who had started the "Clinical Ecology" treatment in the United States. Rudolph suggested to Mackarness that he too might benefit from finding out what he was allergic to, and thereby alleviate his tiredness.

The Randolph treatment proved so successful that Mackarness returned to England resolved to use it to help some of his difficult patients and to spread the word to other doctors. But his colleagues were suspicious of the then unfamiliar idea that diet could cure allergic manifestations, or of the suggestion of a connection between diet and mental illness.

Mackarness had a flair for writing and from the 1950s contributed a medical column first to the News Chronicle and then, on that newspaper's closure in 1960, to the Daily Mail. The strain of running a general practice combined with journalism eventually became too much, however, so in 1965 Mackarness accepted a position as a psychiatric registrar at the Park Prewett Mental Hospital, Basingstoke, where he stayed for the next 16 years. On completing the Diploma in Psychiatric Medicine, he was appointed to the permanent psychiatric staff.

It was a breakthrough for Mackarness that the first and only NHS Clinical Ecology Unit was opened at the Park Prewett Hospital while he was there. There was a rush for treatment; long queues because of the lack of NHS doctors able to advise on the subject disheartened him. He helped to found "Action Against Allergy" - now a world-wide pressure group.

He expanded on the theme of food and chemical allergies in Chemical Victims (1980), which dealt with the chemicals in the environment that cause migraine, depression, fatigue, skin troubles, bowel disorders, and with modern medicine's vain efforts to stem the tide by increased prescription of drugs and ever more complex surgery.

He gave the income from his two bestsellers, Not All in the Mind and Chemical Victims, to the Chemical Victims Association, which he also founded. His last book, written in Australia, was A Little of What You Fancy (1985), in which he showed how addiction/allergy to smoking, alcohol, even to coffee, can be gradually controlled.

On his retirement in 1981 Mackarness and his wife moved to Australia to be near their son, Patrick; he continued his medical work at an Alcoholic and Drug Dependency Unit and took up painting again. Sadly, in 1984 his wife died of cancer.

Richard Mackarness was an exceptional man of many talents; above all he was modest and humble, though a fighter and a born agitator, as he said of himself. He listened to his patients. He restored the quality of life to thousands suffering misery. He was a true healer.

Guy Richard Godfrey Mackarness, physician and writer: born Murree, India 17 August 1916; married 1947 Margaret Perry-Walker (died 1984; one son); died Mornington, Australia 18 March 1996.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: Science Teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: I am currently working in partnersh...

Recruitment Genius: Doctors - Dubai - High "Tax Free" Earnings

£96000 - £200000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Looking for a better earning p...

Recruitment Genius: PHP Developer

£32000 - £36000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A rapidly expanding company in ...

Recruitment Genius: PA

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A PA is required to join a leading provider of...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
Why the league system no longer measures up

League system no longer measures up

Jon Coles, former head of standards at the Department of Education, used to be in charge of school performance rankings. He explains how he would reform the system
Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste
Diego Costa: Devil in blue who upsets defences is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

Devil in blue Costa is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

The Reds are desperately missing Luis Suarez, says Ian Herbert