WORLD-OBITS-L ArchivesArchiver > WORLD-OBITS > 2007-11 > 1195299462
From: "Peter McCrae" <>
Subject: [WORLD-OBITS] CLARE: Antony Ward Clare
Date: Sat, 17 Nov 2007 11:37:42 -0000
Professor Anthony Clare
Last Updated: 2:08am GMT 31/10/2007
Professor Anthony Clare, the psychiatrist and broadcaster who died on Monday
aged 64, became famous as the presenter of Radio 4's long-running In the
Psychiatrist's Chair, in which he interviewed famous "patients" about their
Professor Clare had little difficulty in getting public figures to open up
Opinions about Clare were sharply divided between those who felt that he had
done more for the image of psychiatry than anyone since Sigmund Freud, and
those who felt that he was little more than a silken-tongued midwife of
celebrity tittle-tattle, given a spurious gravitas by his impressive
A lapsed Catholic, Clare was a sympathetic father confessor and, with his
mellifluous Irish voice and air of awed curiosity, he had little difficulty
getting public figures to spill the beans about their private lives and
Among other things, listeners discovered that the actor Anthony Hopkins
suffered from self-disgust; that the crime writer PD James had a fear of
violence; that the late tennis champion Arthur Ashe feared death; and that
Jimmy Savile appeared to be a man without feelings.
Other revelatory "highlights" included the agony aunt Claire Rayner shedding
tears over her unhappy childhood; Paddy Ashdown on the verge of tears over
his father's death; Cecil Parkinson regretting the unhappiness he had caused
to others; Esther Rantzen admitting that she felt insecure about her looks;
and Bob Monkhouse breaking down after admitting that his mother had not
spoken to him for 20 years.
In general, though, those who wished to keep their guilty secrets secret
were never pushed too hard.
The "delectable" (Clare's epithet) Joanna Lumley was allowed to rave away
about her "five-star upbringing - just the best you could get" without a
hint of interrogation.
The IVF pioneer Sir Robert Winston yielded little in the way of shocking
revelation other than the fact that fertility clinics are known as "futility
clinics" in the trade.
Even when he was presented with an opening, Clare rarely attempted to
explore how a person's past experiences might affect their personality, in a
way which might help listeners gain an insight into their own lives.
When Stephen Fry revealed that his father had been a stern critic of his
early frivolity, Clare made no attempt to link this to his subsequent adult
depression, a connection which would probably have been seized upon by most
Denis Healey was allowed to get away with a string of amusing one-liners
with very little by the way of insight into his own feelings about the
various reverses of his political career. "He was one of the few really
contented people I've met," Clare opined.
Rather surprisingly, given the show's confessional format, Clare himself was
deeply hostile to the whole concept of psychoanalysis and psychotherapy.
In an article published in 1985 he described a psychiatrist's couch
techniques as "more akin to indoctrination than treatment" and condemned
psychoanalysis as "the most stupendous confidence trick of the century".
When, in 1994, he was invited to put the case for analytic therapy in a
public debate, the psychologist Oliver James said that it was "a bit like
selecting Baroness Thatcher to speak in defence of socialism".
As a clinical psychiatrist, Clare's true loyalties lay in cognitive
behavioural therapy and the miracles of modern medicine. It was a tribute to
his skills as a broadcaster that few in his audience would ever have
Professor Anthony Clare
Last Updated: 2:08am GMT 31/10/2007Page 2 of 3
The youngest of three children, Anthony Ward Clare was born in Dublin on
Christmas Eve 1942. His father, a Dublin solicitor, was a popular,
gregarious man with a passion for model trains. His mother, by her son's
account, was a neurotic, difficult woman with "ideas above her station".
She would order goods on approval from grand stores so that her neighbours
would see the vans parked outside her house (and again, when they came to
take them away the following week), and lived in a state of constant
dissatisfaction with her lot.
After her death Clare found all the presents his father had bought her over
the years in vain attempts to please her, unused and unworn, hidden away in
He reflected later that it was the subtlety of his own relationship with his
mother that had kindled his interest in psychiatry: "She was the first
person I encountered who puzzled me. There was a lot to her that I didn't
know. Whereas my father was just my father."
>From the age of seven young Anthony was educated at Gonzaga College, Dublin,
a day school run by Jesuits, whose discipline, enforced by a vigorous regime
of corporal punishment, he found a "release" from the pent-up tensions of
An intensely committed Catholic in childhood, he served as an altar boy, and
he believed that his mother may have harboured hopes that he would enter the
priesthood. But his Jesuit training also taught him to doubt, as did the
time he spent "eavesdropping" on American and British pop culture through
the medium of cinema and radio.
In many ways he regretted losing his faith in the 1960s, missing the
theatricality of Catholic ritual. He saw the collapse of the Church's
authority in Ireland as comparable to the collapse of the Berlin Wall in
eastern Europe. Both events had left a moral vacuum which people were
struggling to fill.
Clare studied Medicine at University College, Dublin, where he became a star
of the university debating society and made occasional appearances on
television and radio.
Later he became interested in psychiatry and, after an internship at St
Joseph's Hospital in Syracuse, New York, and initial training at St Patrick's
Hospital, Dublin, he moved to the Institute of Psychiatry at the Maudsley
Hospital in London. There he became senior registrar aged 31 and later
deputy director of the institute's general practice research unit.
In 1983 he was appointed professor of psychological medicine and head of
department at St Bartholomew's Hospital Medical College.
In 1966 he married Jane Hogan, whom he had met as a student in Dublin when
she was studying for a master's degree in Medieval English. They settled at
Beckenham and began a family that produced seven children in rapid
In later life Clare's admission that he had occasionally smacked the elder
of his children was reported in The Daily Mirror under the headline "Shrink
to the Stars Beats His Children".
"I had a short fuse," Clare admitted, "but psychiatry has forced me to
In 1988 he returned to Ireland as clinical professor of psychiatry at
Trinity College, Dublin. He also took up the role of medical director of St
Patrick's Hospital, Dublin.
By this time he had already established his reputation as a broadcaster,
having first come to public notice in the 1970s on Radio 4s Stop the Week,
hosting a feature on the show in which he interviewed high achievers about
He launched In the Psychiatrist's Chair in 1982 after a patient complained
that "all those famous people you see on television never have any idea of
what we go through".
The show became one of the station's longest-running hits, finally going off
the air in 2001.
With the exception of the journalist Paul Johnson (whom Clare was said to
dislike, though he never explained why), he claimed to feel a fondness for
his subjects - even the Holocaust revisionist historian David Irving.
t"We need to believe in monsters," he explained.
"On the other hand you meet the monster and he or she is a human being.
That's the problem."
A small, dapper, rather intense man who once described himself as a "voyeur
who lives off other people's tragedies," Clare could be aggravatingly
evasive with interviewers who tried to turn the tables and psychoanalyse
Psychiatrists, he explained, had to try to keep a "blank canvas", otherwise
patients might find it difficult to talk about their own problems.
Clare's other radio series included All in the Mind (1988-98) and Men in
Crisis (2000), in which he discussed how men might find new roles in a
society where they are no longer the providers and controllers.
He was the author of several popular psychiatry books, including Depression
and How to Survive It (1993), co-written with Spike Milligan.
In his later years Clare, who was a fellow of the Royal College of
Psychiatrists, worked with patients at St Edmundsbury Hospital, an acute
psychiatric unit near Dublin.
He is survived by his wife, Jane, and by their three sons and four
|[WORLD-OBITS] CLARE: Antony Ward Clare by "Peter McCrae" <>|