Michael Rutter, Pioneering Child Psychiatrist, Is Dead at 88

He entered the University of Birmingham Medical School in 1950 and planned to become a general practitioner and join his father’s practice. But he became fascinated by neurology and neurosurgery and then psychiatry, inspired by a professor, Wilhelm Mayer-Gross, a prominent psychiatrist who had fled Nazi Germany.

dr. Rutter worked in several British hospitals after graduating from medical school in 1955 and was a pediatric fellow at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, in the Bronx, from 1961 to 1962. He joined the social psychiatry research unit of Maudsley Hospital in London in 1962, and the Institute of Psychiatry, also in London, in 1966. He was knighted in 1992.

dr. Rutter wrote or co-authored more than 400 papers and 40 books, including “Fifteen Thousand Hours: Secondary Schools and Their Effects on Children” (1979), based on a study of the problems faced by London schoolchildren during 12 years of education.

He also wrote “Maternal Deprivation Reassessed” (1972), in which he suggested that children can develop strong attachments not only to their mothers, but also to other people, both within and outside their family, which will affect their mental health and development. It challenged the work of John Bowlby, a British psychiatrist whose “attachment theory” claimed that a mother’s love is absolutely crucial to a child and that deprivation can have dire consequences.

Survivors include the wife of Dr. Rutter, Marjorie (Heys) Rutter, a nurse and the co-author with him of “Developing Minds: Challenge And Continuity Across The Lifespan” (1993); his daughters, Sheila and Christine; his son, Stephen; his sister, Priscilla, and seven grandchildren.

As more Romanian orphans were adopted by families in Britain in the early 1990s, Dr. Rutter and several colleagues conducted a long-term study to determine how well the children recovered from the difficult conditions they had experienced in orphanages.

He found that many of them adjusted quickly to their new homes, but some who were adopted after they were six months old had more autism spectrum disorders, overactivity and poor personal involvement than a control group of children adopted in Britain. . At the age of 15, some Romanian children’s emotional, behavioral, cognitive and social relationship problems could be traced back to their early hardships.

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