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Susanna Isaacs-Elmhirst

BMJ 2010; 340 doi: (Published 26 May 2010) Cite this as: BMJ 2010;340:c2809
  1. Wendy Moore

    Psychiatrist who applied analytical theory to help troubled children

    Susanna Isaacs-Elmhirst, who has died at the age of 88, overcame a troubled childhood to dedicate her life to helping other children and young people deal with the effects of trauma and damage. Drawn towards psychiatry and psychoanalysis after a successful beginning in paediatrics, at a time when child psychiatry was in its infancy, she was in the vanguard of applying analytical theory to help young people cope with emotional and family problems.

    Although her childhood troubles were followed by tragedy in adult life, with the deaths of both her husbands after relatively brief marital happiness, she contributed more than four decades’ work to children’s services in the UK National Health Service and continued to work in the private and voluntary sectors into her 70s.

    Born in London on 11 April 1921, she was the daughter of Hubert Foss, the musician and composer, and his wife Kate, who lived a Bohemian lifestyle that was an anathema to family stability. Her parents separated when she was young, and she did not see her father for a long period. Apart from two terms at a boarding school in Cambridge she enjoyed no formal education until she was sent at the age of 10 to Dartington Hall, the …

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