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McCluskey, U. (2008). Appreciation of the Life of Dr Brian Lake, 1922-2007. Att: New Dir. in Psychother. Relat. Psychoanal., 2(2):247-248.

(2008). Attachment: New Directions in Psychotherapy and Relational Psychoanalysis, 2(2):247-248


Appreciation of the Life of Dr Brian Lake, 1922-2007

Una McCluskey

Dr Brian Lake, who has made significant contributions to the development of attachment theory, died in his eighty-sixth year from cardiovascular disease on 14 December 2007. He qualified in medicine from Edinburgh University in 1940 and, after a house post at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, he moved to paediatrics, where he became Senior Resident Medical Officer at the Royal Liverpool Children's Hospital.

Being undecided about a future career, he went to sea, and rapidly reached posts as senior surgeon on world-class liners. Here, he became interested in how a ship's crew related to one another and to the passengers, and found that his real interest was in psychiatry. He finally became a trainee at Warlingham Park Hospital among a stimulating group of trainees, several of whom became distinguished psychiatrists and remained his friends all his life. He obtained a Diploma in Psychological Medicine in 1961 and, after the Royal College of Psychiatry was founded in 1971, he sat the examination for Membership of the College in 1973. He settled in Nottingham, where he had an interesting and varied freelance career, dividing his time between an appointment to help Prison Officers handle their charges in Borstals, lecturing on psychotherapy in the University Department of Psychology, and building up a busy psychotherapy practice. He also had an analysis with Dr Harry Guntrip.

He became interested in attachment in the mid 1970s, after he had met Dr Dorothy Heard, who had been trained in Child Psychiatry in Dr John Bowlby's Department at the Tavistock Clinic. They became colleagues and worked together from 1980, when Brian was appointed to open a new Department of Psychotherapy in Leeds, and a few years later he was elected a Fellow of the Royal College of Psychiatrists. In 1985, he published a seminal paper entitled ‘Ego strength’, and, in 1986, a joint paper with Dorothy Heard, ‘The attachment dynamic in adult life’, which drew warm congratulations from Dr John Bowlby. An update of this paper was published as a book, The Challenge of Attachment for Caregiving.

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