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Page 6 in the paper version

In September 1995 Professor Arthur Crisp retired from the Chair of Psychiatry at St. George's Hospital Medical School which he had held since 1967. During his distinguished clinical and academic career Professor Crisp established one of the first specialist eating disorders treatment units in Britain and he is internationally renowned for his contributions to psychosomatic medicine and medical education in general. Glenn Waller reports on the valedictory lecture given by Professor Crisp at the ECED general meeting in Dublin in September 1995.


As a relative newcomer to the field of eating disorders, the first time I saw Arthur Crisp was at the ECED meeting, held in London in 1989. That meeting reminded me of the recency of our attempts to understand and treat eating problems. Here were gathered some of the people who had done the most to define anorexia and bulimia, laying the foundations for our attempts to understand the problems and to develop effective treatments, and they were still active practitioners and researchers in the field. However, many of those people are coming to the end of their formal careers. Gerald Russell and Sven Theander have retired recently and this year, Arthur Crisp is going the same way, following long and distinguished service as an academic and a clinician.

To mark the occasion, he was invited to present a valedictory lecture at the 1995 ECED meeting, held at Dublin Castle.

Professor Crisp's lecture reflected the breadth of his academic contribution and of his clinical experience, using a balance of case material and large scale research. However, the depth of his investigations was also made clear. The central theme of presentation was the role of maturational processes in the aetiology and treatment of anorexia nervosa. He outlined data from 30 years of clinical practice to support the case that the development of anorexia is often allied to the physiological and psychological process of early adolescence and puberty. The arguments were not new to the audience, but the lecture provided a valuable opportunity for synthesis of a research base that has accumulated over those three decades. From the names of his collaborators in the work, it also became clear how Professor Crisp has been involved in the fostering the careers of many clinicians and researchers who are now prominent in the field.

Clearly, our understanding of the eating disorders has grown far beyond the original ideas that Arthur Crisp and others put forward. However, it is possible to see how much that change has been an organic one, growing from the base laid down by that early work. This valedictory address was an ideal "farewell" from a true veteran of the field. However, I mentioned earlier the Sven Theander and Gerald Russell had retired, but neglected to mention that it doesn't seem to have slowed them down appreciably. We should hope that the same will be true of Arthur Crisp, and that we are far from hearing the last of him.

Glenn Waller,
Senior Lecturer in Clinical Psychology,
University College,