Intended for healthcare professionals


Margaret Angus Patterson (née Ingram)

BMJ 2002; 325 doi: (Published 07 September 2002) Cite this as: BMJ 2002;325:550

obituary Margaret Angus Patterson

Thank you for your obituary on the above. I have had the privilege
to get to know Meg Patterson when she joined our psychiatric team at
Yeovil District Hospital in Somerset in 1980.
Her outstanding merits have left a deep impression on me but even more so
on our addict friends either in drug withdrawal or the prevention of it.

It is probably appropriate I feel to review her unique contributions
to the curative treatment of addicts. they are:
1. She realised, following the work of the Hong-Kong neuro-surgeon Dr H L
Wen MD who discovered the use of electro-stimulation, the use of ES as an
extremely useful instrument in speedily i.e. between 1 1/2 to 24 hours,
abolishing the drug withdrawal syndrome (DWS). He, together with
Professor Micheal Besser at St Bartholomew's Hospital in London, was one
of the group of neuro-biologists who established the reproduction results
of the endorphins; in our opinion an essential step to create a basis for
the treatment of addictions. Meg Patterson took this up and: (a)
converted the invasive technique of electro-acupuncture needles into the
non-invasive one of electrodes on the mastoid process for 24 hours between
9 - 14 days continuously (b)she established the frequencies specific for
each of the major drugs of addiction (c)she had the Pharmakon-Patterson
neuro-electric stimulator constructed after a mini-trial which we used

2. The Somerset Area Health Authority responded to my suggestion of first
inviting Meg Patterson to lecture at the post-graduate Medical Centre
after I heard her on Radio 3 and saw her on BBC2. She then joined us for
one month to teach us what she called NET or neuro-electric therapy. We
prefer to call this BEST or brain electro-stimulation transcutaneously.
Numerous neuro-biological researches from around the world to which Meg
Patterson drew my attention on the effect of ES on the endorphinergic and
other systems, including from this country both at St Bartholomew's
Hospital in London and at the Department of Psycho-Pharmacology at the
University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne (Prof Heather Ashton & associates)
confirm our clinical experience that electro-stimulation is important in
the speedy treatment of the drug withdrawal syndrome, thus allowing the
implementation of a comprehensive addiction treatment programme on day 1
or immediately thereafter. It goes only to add that this copious research
appears totally neglected in addiction publications both books and
journals and largely also at Conferences, national and international,
though members of my team and myself have read 35 research papers both in
this country and abroad.

I feel Meg Patterson's contribution, as that of Dr H L Wen, to
curative addiction treatments is so significant that she ought to have
been awarded the Nobel Prize.

Competing interests:  
None declared

Competing interests: No competing interests

18 August 2003
Karl E Schmidt
3 Apple Close, Dowlish Wake, Ilminster, Somerset, UK TA19 OQG