Ref NoAUD/002/OHP 53
TitleRutter, Michael - Recording
SiteInstitute of Psychiatry
Date7 October 2009
DescriptionCDR sound recording of an interview with Professor Sir Michael L. Rutter CBE, FRS, FBA, CPsychol., HonFBPsS, MD, FRCPsych, FAcMedSci, Institute of Psychiatry for the British Psychological Society's Oral History project.

The interview was conducted by Paul Devonshire in 2009.

The following summary is by way of introduction to the full recording held at the British Psychological Society's History of Psychology Centre, London.

Michael Rutter (MR)
Paul Devonshire (PD)

Topics covered:

Paul Devonshire begins the interview by asking MR how he got into psychology

MR speaks of happenchance his training in medicine background, his interest in the brain and the mind, his post graduate experience, training at the Maudsley, Hans J.Eysenck (hi teacher), his involvement in psychological research, his mentors including; Herb Birch in New York, Jack Tizard, Neil O'Connor, Artie ?, his involvement in the broader aspects of psychology, MRC and the SSRC.

PD asks MR to speak of his early days at the Institute of Psychiatry

MR mentions the high standing of the IoP at the time, the set up of the Institute and various training matters

PD asks MR when did he leave for New York

MR answers 1961-1962 on a Nuffield Fellowship, the paediatric department child development, how he worked with Herb Birch, Alex Thomas, Stella Chess, his contacts in the US including; Gerry Kagan, Lee Robins, Leon Eisenberg and others.

MR talks of his return to the UK, how Aubrey Lewis recommends he become a child psychiatrist, training in child development, how he ran his own unit as a consultant (learning on the job), working with Jack Rachman and especially Bill Yule on the important Isle of Wight study.

PD asks MR how the Isle of Wight study has influenced the nature of training

MR talks of structured interview issues, how training standards have mostly improved for the better, science in general, overall concepts and collaborative research, qualitative and quantitative research, other research issues/approaches and words.

PD asks what the work on the Isle of Wight Study led to viz. child development

MR talks of a comparative study in London leading to a study of Schools, the formation of a teachers and researchers group and his publication.

PD asks MR if he would describe himself as a psychologist, academic, sociologist or something else

MR answers by saying that he is all of those things and how he has mainly worked with psychologists, his allegiances mostly in psychology, the BPS, writing books, influential books, journals and science articles.

PD asks MR to talk of the opportunities after the Isle of Wight study

MR speaks of his earlier book on Mental Deprivation (1972), his interest in natural experiments, his autism twin studies with Susan Folstein and the Virginia twin studies.

MR speaks of the importance of being wrong, his early 1960s genetic factors in autism paper, his maternal deprivation book

PD asks MR if his golden age was the Isle of wight study

MR replies that the IOW study was an important work and experience and adds his work with natural experiments before turning to Government policies in the 1970s and his lack of political affiliations.

MR speaks of temperament, its physiological origins, his work with prisoners, his chair, his previous posts, bureaucracy, and hospitals.

PD asks MR what would he say was his career high point

MR replies that he would like the lasting bit to be his attempt to bring together clinical work and science as well as his overall approach.


Total Running Time: c 89mins.

Michael Rutter's Biography available from 'Autism' website at:

Summary by Mike Maskill, BPS Archivist.
RunTimeOn one CDR disk, running time c 89 minutes.
FormatDigital Disk
NotesThe History of Psychology Centre is committed to creating an inclusive environment for all our users. Be aware that our catalogue contains historic terminology relating to mental health which could be considered offensive. The terminology exists within the original record and has been retained to inform users on viewpoints at the time. It in no way reflects the attitudes of the cataloguers or the British Psychological Society.
AccessConditionsAuthorised Users. View by Appointment
Location13: BPS History of Psychology Centre, London
Legal medicine
Scientific methods
Forensic medicine
AdminHistoryDate of Birth: 1933
Place of Birth: Lebanon

University and Professional Training:
University of Birmingham (UK) medical school, 1955.
Postgraduate training in medicine, paediatrics and neurologyn (nd)
Psychiatric training at the Maudsley Hospital, London (nd)

Professional career:
Nuffield Travelling Fellowship to study child development at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine (NY) (nd)
Senior Lecturer at the Institute of Psychiatry, London in 1966, then reader and then Professor of Child Psychiatry and Head of Deaprtment of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry,
Established the MRC Child Psychiatry Research Unit, 1984
Established the MRC Social, Genetic and Developmental Psychiatry Research Centre, 1994.
Professor of Developmental Psychopathology at the Institute of Psychiatry, 1998

Honours and awards:
Fellow of the Royal Society of London, (nd)
Honorary Fellow of the British Academy, (nd)
Founder Fellow of the Academia Europaea and the Academy of Medical Sciences (nd)
Helmut Horten Award for research in autism, 1997
Honorary Fellow of the BPS, 1978
Commander of The British Empire (CBE), HM Government, 1985
Knight Baronet, HMQ, 1992
Lifetime Achievement Award, International Society for Autism, 2002

Involvement with BPS and/or other societies and organisations (selected):
Clinical vice-president, the Academy of Medical Sciences (nd)
Deputy Chairman of the Wellcome Trust 1999-2004
Trustee of the Nuffield Foundation (nd)
RulesDescription compiled in line with the following: ISAD (G) General International Standard Archival Description MAD3 Third Edition 2000
ArchNoteCompiled by Mike Maskill BPS Archivist for the History of Psychology Centre.

Show related Persons records.

BPS/GB/205Rutter; Sir; Michael L (1933-); Professor; CBE, FRS, FBA, CPsychol., HonFBPsS, MD, FRCPsych, FAcMedSc1933-
BPS/GB/133Tizard; Jack (1919-1979); Dr; FBPsS1919-1979
BPS/GB/374Royal College of Psychiatrists; 1841-1841-
BPS/GB/207Yule; William (1940-); Professor; HonFBPsS, CPsychol1940-
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