Archive > DR DENNIS FRIEDMAN 1924-2014

Eminent British psychiatrist Dr Dennis Friedman died aged 90 on 6 December 2014 and is fondly remembered as one of Peter Owen’s most perceptive and intriguing authors.

Born in London’s Stamford Hill to Jewish parents Henry and Millie, Dennis Friedman and his younger sister lived in Edgware. Their father owned several London confectionery shops. As a young adult, Friedman left City of London School to train in medicine at St Bartholomew’s Hospital. The completion of his studies at Queen’s College, Cambridge in 1948 and the early years of his general practice in Edgware coincided with the challenges of the newly created NHS. Friedman had 3,000 patients to care for, often working without a break, day and night, with just half a day per week to recover from his efforts. In those days night-time visits were demanded and expected. Friedman made them without demur, often in his pyjamas. He was a conscientious and much loved practitioner and his swift actions and diagnostic skills were responsible for both healing and saving many lives. The testimonies of his patients, many of whom kept in touch with him until his death, reveal the admiration and respect in which he was held.

In 1963 Friedman decided to train in psychiatry and, once qualified, he returned to St Bartholomew’s where he enjoyed success as a specialist treating phobias, parenting issues and sexual problems. Elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Psychiatrists, Friedman went on to work as medical director of the Devonshire Hospital’s stress clinics in Marylebone (1988-1991), and following that in the same role at the Charter Clinic, Chelsea (1991-1994). He was also a consultant psychiatrist at the private Nightingale Hospital in Marylebone, and at the Cromwell Hospital in South Kensington. His responsibility was, again, for stress-related illness and its management. In later life Dr Friedman treated patients privately at rooms in Harley Street and Wimpole Street, and at his home in Regent’s Park. Friedman was active and popular as an academic and lecturer, and, as well as publishing his own studies, acted as assessor for papers submitted to the British Journal of Psychiatry.
Marie-AntoinetteIn the course of his long and distinguished career he gained a considerable reputation for his effectiveness in dealing with family issues and treated people from all walks of life, including many household names. Dr Friedman gained a reputation from the 1990s on as a commentator in the press, on TV and radio for his insights into psychological issues, especially within the Royal Family.

Following his retirement from psychiatry at the age of 75 he took up writing and published six books including Inheritance: a Psychological History of the Royal Family (1993). The book’s insights into its august subjects’ problems also resonated with many ordinary family lives. In the months before his death at the age of 90 he updated this popular book, which was recently brought out in a revised edition by Peter Owen.

Friedman married author and playwright Rosemary Friedman whilst still a medical student. Supporting each other in their various careers, they made a strong and inter-dependent team. One of his proudest achievements was as mentor to his four feminist daughters, Susan, Louise, Charlotte and Emma, and his ten adoring grandchildren.

Dennis Friedman’s books include:

Inheritance: A Psychological History of the Royal Family – Peter Owen, 2014 (revised edition)

Darling Georgie: The Enigma of King George V – Peter Owen, 1998

Ladies of the Bedchamber: The Role of the Royal Mistress – Peter Owen, 2003

An Unsolicited Gift: Why We Do What We Do – Arcadia, 2010

The Lonely Hearts Club (a novel) – Peter Owen, 2012

Behind the Façade: A Psychiatrist’s View (stories based on clinical practice)  – Peter Owen, 2013


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