Issy Pilowsky

BMJ 2012; 345 doi: (Published 24 October 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;345:e6925
  1. Sandra Braude

Issy Pilowsky was born in Cape Town, His parents and grandparents had migrated to South Africa from White Russia some year before, thereby avoiding the fate of most of their relatives who were murdered by the Nazis. The family lived in a distinctly Jewish environment, and Issy often had to explain things to them in Yiddish. His interest in language and his linguistic skills persisted throughout his life.

Issy studied medicine at the University of Cape Town. He was regarded by all those who knew him as a brilliant student. His abilities were many, and they included writing, acting and play production. While still at school he won a major prize for his essay based on Richard Lovelace’s poem, “To Althea in Prison”—“Stone walls do not a prison make, nor iron bars a cage;/Souls innocent and free take that as an hermitage.” He never lost his interest in human rights.

After graduating he was awarded an MD from the University of Cape Town for his thesis on hypochondriasis. This would later form the basis for his work on abnormal illness behaviour.

In 1956 he married Marlene Noar. In …

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