Prof. Lionel Hersov, Editor of JCPP 1963-83, passes away

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Prof. Lionel Hersov, who was editor of JCPP from 1963-1983, passed away recently. In his role as its editor, which spanned two decades, he was the driving force behind the development of the journal. The JCPP team fondly remembers his great contribution.

Prof. Patricia Howlin, King’s College London, recalls, “I had the pleasure of working with Lionel over many years. I first knew him by reputation due to his pioneering work on school refusal but later we were both involved in a home-based intervention study for children with autism. This was conducted at the Maudsley Hospital and Institute of Psychiatry in London during the 1970’s, a time when almost all children with autism were treated as in-patients in psychiatric units, with little if any involvement of their parents. Thus, a focus on practical solutions that would help not only improve the child’s condition but also family life generally was very novel. Lionel’s input to that study, in terms of his knowledge of the challenges faced by families and the support they needed, was invaluable.

Later, as member of his clinical team at the Maudsley, I continued to be greatly influenced by the empathy, understanding and support he offered to families, and his ability to engage with them equally sensitively, whether they were wealthy and articulate or socially very deprived. His capacity for encompassing many different strands of psychiatry was evident from the fact that, in addition to his post at the Maudsley, he was a Distinguished Visiting Scientist at the Tavistock Clinic and Professor of Paediatrics at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. He used to tell me that he only went to the US because they promised him a parking space but clearly his clinical and academic expertise was valued as greatly in America as in the UK.”

Lionel became editor of JCPP in 1964 and he continued in this role over the next 20 years, during which time he played a vital role in ensuring its long-term financial stability and its exceptional academic reputation. In 1997 he was joint editor of the first edition of Child Psychiatry- Modern Approaches (now in its 6th edition).  This textbook rapidly became essential reading for anyone involved in child and adolescent psychology and psychiatry and for many years was simply known as Rutter and Hersov”.

“After Lionel’s retirement from the Maudsley we maintained contact through our involvement with ACAMH and the journal. Even when he was no longer actively involved with the editorial board it was always a delight to meet him at the ACAMH conferences which he regularly attended and contributed to.  It is a testimony to his humanity and warmth, as well as his clinical expertise, that participants involved in our early 1970’s autism study still remember him fondly. The same is true of the very many trainee psychiatrists he mentored over the years and, on my part, it is no exaggeration to say that he was one of the kindest and most supportive people I have ever worked with throughout my career.”

Prof. Fred Volkmar, Yale University, affectionately recalls, “A wonderful friend and senior mentor, Lionel’s many contributions to the field of child psychiatry will long be remembered.  I am deeply grateful to him for his guidance when I was editing the Annual Research Review. He will be tremendously missed.”

Prof. Edmund Sonuga-Barke, the current Editor-in-Chief writes “The JCPP is highly regarded the world over as the premier source for cutting-edge science in the field of child psychology and psychiatry. Researchers and clinicians trust it because of the high ethical and scientific standards that now come as second nature to those of us privileged to work for the journal. During his twenty years as JCPP editor, Lionel set these standards, established the tradition of scientific rigour in the search for evidence-based practice and by doing this provided the platform from which it has grown. It is impossible to over-estimate the role he has played in the JCPP specifically and through that the influence he has had on science and practice.

The JCPP team would like to share the editorial he coauthored with Michael Berger for the 50th Anniversary issue.

Lionel Hersov obituary via The Guardian by Sebastian Kraemer

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