|Description||Henderson was born in Dumfries on 24th April 1884, attending school there and at the Royal High School in Edinburgh. He graduated MB ChB at Edinburgh University in 1907. He attained an MD with distinction in 1913. |
After work in psychiatry and medicine in Edinburgh, his postgraduate studies took on an international dimension. In 1909 he became an assistant physician in the Psychiatric Institute of the Manhattan State Hospital in New York, working with Adolf Meyer, who was to become his exemplar and most significant teacher. In 1911 he was in Munich studying with Kraepelin and Alzheimer, the beginning of special interests and expertise in the taxonomy of psychiatric syndromes and in the pre-senile dementias. In 1912 he became first chief resident at the Henry Phipps Psychological Clinic at the Johns Hopkins Memorial Hospital in Baltimore, again under Adolf Meyer.
His RAMC [Royal Army Medical Corps] service, as a major from 1916-1919, interrupted a long period in Glasgow, where in 1921 he was appointed physician superintendent of the Gartnavel Royal Hospital, a lecturer in mental diseases and a psychiatrist to the Western General Hospital. Only 20 years after graduating, with his Glasgow colleague R D Gillepsie, he published (1927, OUP) A Textbook of Psychiatry, which was to become over more than 40 years one of the internationally most important books on the subject.
In 1932 David Henderson became Edinburgh's second professor of psychiatry, the physician superintendent of the Royal Edinburgh Hospital and a physician-psychiatrist to the Royal Infirmary, all combined with private practice. He was elected president of Edinburgh's Royal College of Physicians (1949-1951) and was knighted in 1947.
His practice, teaching, lecturing and extensive writings, were based on the principles for which he gave life-long credit to Adolf Meyer: the need to consider in diagnosis and treatment the personal and family history of patients along with their psychological and physical state, all within the context of their social circumstances; a conceptual framework he described as psychodynamic.
Sir David died in Edinburgh on 20th April 1965, a few days before his 81st birthday.
[Source: MDDUS [Medical and Dental Defence Union of Scotland] online newsletter Autumn 2006]
Contents: Papers on psychotherapy, 1930s; certificates, 1901-1963; publications by Sir David Henderson, 1911-1966