Max Hamilton Research Fund

Max Hamilton Biography

Max Hamilton MD, FRCP,FRC Psych, FB Psychol S

Professor Max Hamilton was born in Offenbach am Main, Germany in 1912. In 1915, his family moved to London and he went on to receive his medical training at University College Hospital Medical School. He began his clinical psychiatric training at the Maudsley Hospital and at UCH where, under the influence of Sir Cyril Burt, he became particularly interested in psychology and statistics.

While at King's College Hospital as senior registrar to Dr Dennis Hill, he submitted his MD thesis on the personalities of patients with dyspepsia. He subsequently worked at Tooting Bec Hospital in the senior hospital medical officer grade, an unusual career step for a future academic.

In 1953 he moved to Leeds as a senior lecturer in psychiatry. He spent two years as visiting scientist at the National Institute of Mental Health, Bethesda, Maryland, USA before returning to Leeds as a member of the External Staff of the MRC. In 1963, he succeeded G. R. Hargreaves as the Nuffield Professor of Psychiatry.

During his tenure of the Nuffield Chair, the Department showed considerable expansion in its activities: a research dissertation became a requirement for the Diploma in Psychological Medicine; two courses were introduced for social workers, whom Professor Hamilton believed made a vital contribution to the care of psychiatric patients; and the course in clinical psychology was established in conjunction with the Department of Psychology.

However, it was in teaching and research that Professor Hamilton made his most distinctive contributions. He emphasised the central place of the patient in both clinical work and research. Despite his fearsome reputation as a teacher, there are many accounts of his kindness to individual trainees. He was in great demand for his excellent lectures, which he could deliver also in French or German. The widely used Hamilton Depression Rating Scale was the first of several he developed. His books include The Methodology of Clinical Research, and Psychosomatics.

Professor Hamilton was President of the British Psychological Society, Foundation President of the British Association for Psychopharmacology; and a member of the editorial board for the Journal Psychopharmacology. In 1980 he received, from the American Psychopathological Association, the coveted Paul Hoch Award for contributions to psychiatric research.

He died in August 1988, just two months before he was due to deliver the Maudsley Lecture.