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Hess, N. Lewis, E. (2002). Michael B. Conran 1924-2001. Psychoanal. Psychother., 16(2):173-176.

(2002). Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy, 16(2):173-176


Michael B. Conran 1924-2001

Noel Hess and Emanuel Lewis

Michael Conran, who died on 19 December 2001 at the age of 77 years, was a founding member of the APP; he served on the first Council and continued to be active in the organization until a few months before his death. He was a Trustee of the APP Educational Trust until he resigned his position, because of his ill-health, in October. He told me, at the time, that he found this a very difficult decision to make, because of his parental affection for the organization; to sever an active relationship of some 20 years was sad and painful. He also contributed to APP conferences and to this journal, although his published work is a small proportion of his papers, which he preferred to deliver before a live audience.

Michael's early life was spent in Brighton, and he retained a great fondness for it, acquiring a good deal of its raffish charm for himself. He was the elder of two children, with a younger sister to whom he was very close, until her death about 4 years ago. He studied medicine at Guy's and, after a short spell in the RAF, went into academic work, lecturing and researching in microbiology at the University of Birmingham. In his 40s, he decided to change career; having had a long-standing intellectual interest in psychoanalysis he moved to London in order to have analysis himself and to apply to train at the Institute of Psycho-Analysis. He weathered initial rejections and persevered in this ambition, which was extremely important to him, so that he was eventually accepted to train, and he qualified as an analyst in the early 1970s.

During this period of his life he was working at Shenley Hospital, where his Consultant was Tom Hayward, someone who became his teacher, mentor and much-loved friend. He inherited a ward of young male schizophrenics from David Cooper. This ward—Villa 21—was where he developed his abiding interest in the dynamics of psychosis and the ætiology of psychotic breakdown within the family. This was pioneering work, as the application of psychoanalytic understanding to inpatient work with psychotic patients and their families was possibly even rarer then than it is now.

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