Obituary: John Pearce

John Dalziel Wyndham Pearce, physician in psychological medicine; born Edinburgh 21 February 1904; Senior Assistant Medical Officer and Assistant Pathologist, City Mental Hospital, Leicester 1930-36; Medico-psychologist, Stamford House Remand Home 1936-46; served RAMC 1939-1945; Consultant Psychiatrist, Queen Elizabeth Hospital for Children, 1947-69; Medical Director, Portman Clinic (Institute for the Scientific Treatment of Delinquency) 1947-52; Assistant Physician, Department of Psychological Medicine, St Mary's Hospital, London 1948-52; Lecturer in Psychiatry, London University, 1952-69; Physician-in-Charge, Department of Psychological Medicine, St Mary's Hospital, London 1953-69; Consultant Psychiatrist, Royal Masonic Hospital 1957-69; Member, Home Secretary's Advisory Council on Treatment of Offenders 1960-69; Examiner, Royal College of Physicians of London 1962-1971; married 1929 Grace Fowler (marriage dissolved 1964), 1964 Elizabeth Draper; died Edinburgh 25 January 1994.

JOHN PEARCE was the last all-purpose clinical psychiatrist: for him a single day's work might include psychoanalysing a disturbed child, preparing a Court report on an offender, administering psychological tests to an elderly patient and assessing their significance, working out a treatment plan for a wildly manic woman, counselling a girl who had taken an overdose of aspirin and giving genetic advice to a couple who had a child with severe learning difficulties. During the 1950s and 1960s, while working at St Mary's Hospital, Queen Elizabeth Hospital for Children, the Royal Masonic Hospital and in his Harley Street practice, he was very probably the only psychiatrist in London with such a wide range of clinical interest and ability.

Jack Pearce was born in Edinburgh in 1904; his father was an English cloth merchant and his mother - her maiden name was Dalziel - a pure Scot. Doubtless, his mother's firmly established Highland roots - she was descended from Robert MacGregor ('Rob Roy', the 18th-century Jacobite outlawed by the English) - nourished Pearce's love of his native country throughout his life.

Pearce was educated in Edinburgh at George Watson's College and at the University Medical School, obtaining his MA at the age of 19 in 1923. He qualified as a doctor in 1927 - one of a group of distinguished students, including his lifelong friend John McMichael, who were to make their names in London. After house appointments at the Royal Infirmary and at the Royal Hospital for Sick Children, he left Edinburgh to work in English mental hospitals, first in Kent and then in Leicester, proceeding, in 1933, to his Doctorate of Medicine and Membership of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh; his thesis assessed the significance of personality in the cause of mental illness.

In 1936, Pearce came to London to take up appointments at Stamford House Remand Home, the Tavistock Clinic and the West End Hospital for Nervous Diseases, and to establish a Harley Street practice. When the Second World War started, he volunteered for the RAMC and was commissioned as a major, one of seven command psychiatrists under Brigadier JR Rees. In 1942 he was promoted lieutenant-colonel and posted as Officer Commanding Northfield Military Hospital; in 1944 he was sent overseas as Adviser in Psychiatry, Allied Force Headquarters, Central Mediterranean Forces; he was mentioned in despatches.

On demobilisation in September 1945 he returned to his pre-war work in London and, by taking on new commitments and giving up old ones, he concentrated his efforts on St Mary's Hospital and Medical School, Queen Elizabeth Hospital for Children, the Royal Masonic Hospital (he became a Grand Lodge Officer) and his own practice.

Pearce made a number of important contributions to medical literature, particularly a textbook, Juvenile Delinquency (1952). He pointed out then that there was no scientific evidence that punishment had any beneficial effect on the anti-social behaviour of delinquents. He was much against the judicial birching that was practised when he first became involved with delinquents, and his book mentions the even more barbaric capital punishment inflicted on children as young as eight years of age a century previously. At present, when the importance of punishment is being increasingly debated, Pearce's views seem very relevant.

Jack Pearce was a kind, soft-spoken, understanding man who was more interested in listening to what others had to say than in talking himself; that was one of the reasons he was such a good psychiatrist. But he had many interests outside medicine and sometimes could be persuaded to speak about them. He was a great traveller and the mention of a holiday trip to almost anywhere - perhaps to a remote Pyrenean valley, or a small town in British Columbia or an Italian village near Sorrento - would often elicit a story, usually amusing, about one of his visits there. He was a keen golfer (from the age of four until he was 80), an accomplished water-colour painter and he enjoyed fishing, curling and - particularly when he and his second wife, Elizabeth, holidayed in their croft house on the west coast of Sutherland - baking his own bread.

In 1988, the pull of his birthplace - always strong - became irresistible and he moved back to Edinburgh after an exile of 60 years.

(Photograph omitted)

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
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 People

Recruitment Genius: Bookkeeper

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: One of the world's leading suppliers and manuf...

Recruitment Genius: Multiple Apprentices Required

£6240 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Apprentices are required to join a privat...

Sauce Recruitment: HR Manager

£40000 per annum: Sauce Recruitment: This is an exciting opportunity for a HR...

Ashdown Group: Interim HR Manager - 3 Month FTC - Henley-on-Thames

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A well-established organisation oper...

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
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
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
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
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
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
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