Slater, Eliot Trevor Oakeshott

Slater, Eliot Trevor Oakeshott
   (1904–1983)
   One of the founders of psychiatric genetics, Slater was born in London, his father a schoolmaster and his mother, Violet Oakeshott Slater, a painter. He studied medicine at Cambridge, then in 1927–1930 was a house officer at St. George’s Hospital in London. After a brief stint at the West End Hospital for Nervous Diseases, in 1931 he went to the Maudsley Hospital, where he would remain in various capacities (director of the branch called the Sutton Emergency Hospital in Sutton, Surrey, during the war) until 1946. At the Maudsley, Aubrey Lewis guided Slater toward genetics. In 1946, Slater shifted to the National Hospital at Queen Square in London as physician in psychological medicine until his retirement in 1964, after which his various appointments were honorary in nature. Between 1959 and 1969, he was director of the MRC Psychiatric Genetics Unit at the Maudsley.
   During the tenure of a Rockefeller Fellowship in 1934–1935, he was able to study genetics in Berlin and at the German Psychiatric Research Institute in Munich, which furthered his lifelong interest in twin studies as the mechanism of research in psychiatric genetics. Once back at the Maudsley, he began interviewing twin pairs, to see, when one twin had a major psychiatric illness, how often the co-twin acquired it as well. In 1936, he wrote on the inheritance of manic-depressive insanity in the Proceedings of the Royal Society of Medicine. Slater’s book Psychotic and Neurotic Illnesses in Twins (1953) is one of the landmarks in psychiatric genetics. He amplified his research in The Genetics of Mental Disorders, published in 1971. On the basis of his wartime experience at Sutton Emergency Hospital, in 1944 he and William Sargant published An Introduction to Physical Methods of Treatment in Psychiatry, describing such procedures as insulin coma and electroconvulsive therapy. In 1954, led by Willi Mayer-Gross, Slater and Martin Roth wrote Clinical Psychiatry, probably the most influential textbook of psychiatry since Kraepelin’s. Slater is also known for a battle with the Washington University in St. Louis school, chiefly Samuel Guze, about the nature of "hysteria," which Slater on the basis of his experiences at the neurologically oriented National Hospital thought an artifact (Guze said it was an inherited illness). See Slater’s "Hysteria 311" in the Journal of Mental Science in 1961. His main conceptual notion, beginning in 1958 in the Acta Genetica et Statistica Medica, was a "monogenic" theory of schizophrenia, arguing that the illness was caused by one gene.

Edward Shorter. 2014.

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  • Eliot Slater — Eliot Trevor Oakeshott Slater MD (1904 ndash; 15 May, 1983 ), a British psychiatrist and eugenicist who developed theories of a genetic basis for mental disorders.Slater was a student of Dr. Ernst Rüdin, one of the architects of racial hygiene… …   Wikipedia

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