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Observations BMJ Confidential

Henrietta Bowden-Jones: Extrovert, optimistic, driven

BMJ 2015; 350 doi: (Published 18 March 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;350:h1444


Henrietta Bowden-Jones, 50, is founder and director of the National Problem Gambling Clinic, the NHS’s first multidisciplinary treatment centre for pathological gamblers, and is the Royal College of Psychiatrists’ spokesperson on behavioural addictions. With a prevalence of 0.9% problem gambling is estimated to affect about 400 000 people in this country, and many more are at risk. As consultant psychiatrist and honorary senior lecturer at Imperial College London’s division of brain sciences she also runs a research group investigating the neurobiology and aetiology of gambling addiction. She is vice president of the Medical Women’s Federation and has edited two textbooks on pathological gambling, published in early 2015. In 2014 she won the Women in the City award for health.

What was your earliest ambition?

From primary school age I was an avid reader and also loved Charles Schulz’s Peanuts cartoons, which I think shaped not only my career path but also my approach to life. Every human problem appears in the comic strip at some point. Lucy became a role model, as I liked her energy and vitality: I decided to become a psychiatrist after reading endless cartoons of her in her little wooden stall, a large “The psychiatrist is in” sign above her head, dispensing advice to friends and acquaintances.

Who has been your biggest inspiration?

Not one single person but a collection of about four or five, who have all excelled as medics nationally and internationally. They maintained high professional standards and a burning desire to learn, which was infectious. They all exhibited the nurturing side of great team leaders and found time to inspire junior colleagues not just to do the job well but to seek more than what was expected. The biggest inspiration probably came from my visit to Stuart Turner’s Trauma Clinic in central London almost 20 years ago. I left his office dazzled by the concept …

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