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1950–2021

Renowned as brilliant, kind, and humorous, Michael King helped to transform University College London’s division of psychiatry into an international centre of excellence. A gay man, he was among the first doctors to “come out.” In characteristic forthright and courageous fashion, he attacked medicine for perceiving homosexuality as a diagnosis to treat. Speaking on a podcast for the University of Melbourne in 2017, he said: “I think it’s been one of the most stigmatising prejudicial things to have happened.”

The popular perception may be that society is increasingly more accepting of diversity, but King questioned how much deep-rooted prejudice had been exorcised, fearing that Russia and some east European countries had gone backwards because of their homophobic leaders.

He said: “Homophobia from childhood onwards has severe and long-lasting effects, making people vulnerable to suicide, even people who seem to be in stable relationships. Parental attitudes and support is one of the strongest predictors of trouble in youth or in your 20s as a gay person. An accepting parent can reduce your risk of suicide attempts by 50–70%.”

Gentle ferocity

As a debater King was known for disarming his opponents by the gentle ferocity of his curiosity. His friend and fellow psychiatrist Helen Killaspy, also of UCL, recalls a House of Lords debate when King underlined the dangers of reparative therapy—attempts to change a person’s sexual orientation from homosexuality or bisexuality to heterosexuality.

She said: “We never had a chance of winning the debate. The numbers were stacked against us, but the opposing speakers could not but warm to questions from Michael such as: ‘But why do you think like this?’ He was so calm and non-defensive.

“He had an insatiable interest in people and brought this to his work, combining his natural curiosity and humour with methodological rigour.”

King was far more than a gay crusader. A prolific researcher, with 796 peer reviewed publications, and more due posthumously, he supervised 30 doctoral students and was influential in attracting and supporting the development of junior clinical and non-clinical academics in psychiatry. Speaking French, German, and Spanish, he started numerous longstanding international collaborations in Australasia, Europe, India, and South America.

Life and career

The son of a New Zealand farmer, Bruce King, and his wife, Patricia, young Michael studied zoology at Canterbury University, Christchurch, before qualifying in medicine in Auckland and training there as a physician. He moved to the UK in 1976 to study general practice.

He trained in psychiatric epidemiology at the GP research unit at the Institute of Psychiatry, London, and gained an MD (University of Auckland, 1986) and a doctorate (University of London, 1989) before he became a senior lecturer in the department of academic psychiatry at the Royal Free Hospital School of Medicine. He took over as head of department in 1996.

His numerous contributions to psychiatry encompassed risk prediction for mental disorders, evaluation of talking therapies and other complex interventions, end-of-life care for cancer patients, and religious and spiritual beliefs in mental wellbeing.

An excellent clinician, he founded the psychosexual service at Camden and Islington NHS Foundation Trust, where he was consultant psychiatrist for 30 years.

In the 1990s he was instrumental in changing how the cause of death was recorded for patients with HIV/AIDS to mitigate the associated stigma without compromising the collection of accurate statistics.

He and Gillian Mezey, now professor of forensic psychiatry at St George’s Hospital, London, co-wrote Male Victims of Sexual Assault, and contributed towards changes in the legal definition of male rape. King and Mezey were among the first to examine the impact of male sexual assault on mental health.

Appearing frequently in custody cases with lesbian and gay parents, King also helped to change the popular perception that children with gay parents were at risk. He also gave expert evidence to the Church of England Synod on same-sex marriage and the ordination of LGBT ministers. Although he was not a theologian, he quoted elegantly from the Bible—a reflection, friends say, of an exceptionally widely read man.

In 2001, King co-founded the Royal College of Psychiatrists’ special interest group on LGBT mental health, remaining an active member until a few weeks before his death.

He met his life partner, Irwin Nazareth, in 1984 at the Gay Medical Association. Nazareth is professor of primary care and population sciences at UCL. Having celebrated their civil partnership in 2006 they married in 2017. King leaves Nazareth, two nieces, and a nephew.

In 2019 King contracted a non-tuberculous mycobacterium (NTM) infection, later found to be linked to an extremely rare lung condition, pleuroparenchymal fibroelastosis (PPFE). Until 2017 only 100 cases of PPFE were thought to have been identified, leaving patients feeling isolated. Highlighting his positive approach to life, King founded the first NTM patient support group, NTM Patient Care UK (www.ntmpatientcare.uk).

Michael King (b 1950; q Auckland, New Zealand, 1975; MD, PhD, FRCGP, FRCP, FRCP), died from pleuroparenchymal fibroelastosis on 20 September 2021.

Summary

Abstract

Aim

Method

Results

Conclusion

Author Information

John Illman: BMJ.

Acknowledgements

Correspondence

Correspondence Email

Competing Interests

For the PDF of this article,
contact nzmj@nzma.org.nz

View Article PDF

1950–2021

Renowned as brilliant, kind, and humorous, Michael King helped to transform University College London’s division of psychiatry into an international centre of excellence. A gay man, he was among the first doctors to “come out.” In characteristic forthright and courageous fashion, he attacked medicine for perceiving homosexuality as a diagnosis to treat. Speaking on a podcast for the University of Melbourne in 2017, he said: “I think it’s been one of the most stigmatising prejudicial things to have happened.”

The popular perception may be that society is increasingly more accepting of diversity, but King questioned how much deep-rooted prejudice had been exorcised, fearing that Russia and some east European countries had gone backwards because of their homophobic leaders.

He said: “Homophobia from childhood onwards has severe and long-lasting effects, making people vulnerable to suicide, even people who seem to be in stable relationships. Parental attitudes and support is one of the strongest predictors of trouble in youth or in your 20s as a gay person. An accepting parent can reduce your risk of suicide attempts by 50–70%.”

Gentle ferocity

As a debater King was known for disarming his opponents by the gentle ferocity of his curiosity. His friend and fellow psychiatrist Helen Killaspy, also of UCL, recalls a House of Lords debate when King underlined the dangers of reparative therapy—attempts to change a person’s sexual orientation from homosexuality or bisexuality to heterosexuality.

She said: “We never had a chance of winning the debate. The numbers were stacked against us, but the opposing speakers could not but warm to questions from Michael such as: ‘But why do you think like this?’ He was so calm and non-defensive.

“He had an insatiable interest in people and brought this to his work, combining his natural curiosity and humour with methodological rigour.”

King was far more than a gay crusader. A prolific researcher, with 796 peer reviewed publications, and more due posthumously, he supervised 30 doctoral students and was influential in attracting and supporting the development of junior clinical and non-clinical academics in psychiatry. Speaking French, German, and Spanish, he started numerous longstanding international collaborations in Australasia, Europe, India, and South America.

Life and career

The son of a New Zealand farmer, Bruce King, and his wife, Patricia, young Michael studied zoology at Canterbury University, Christchurch, before qualifying in medicine in Auckland and training there as a physician. He moved to the UK in 1976 to study general practice.

He trained in psychiatric epidemiology at the GP research unit at the Institute of Psychiatry, London, and gained an MD (University of Auckland, 1986) and a doctorate (University of London, 1989) before he became a senior lecturer in the department of academic psychiatry at the Royal Free Hospital School of Medicine. He took over as head of department in 1996.

His numerous contributions to psychiatry encompassed risk prediction for mental disorders, evaluation of talking therapies and other complex interventions, end-of-life care for cancer patients, and religious and spiritual beliefs in mental wellbeing.

An excellent clinician, he founded the psychosexual service at Camden and Islington NHS Foundation Trust, where he was consultant psychiatrist for 30 years.

In the 1990s he was instrumental in changing how the cause of death was recorded for patients with HIV/AIDS to mitigate the associated stigma without compromising the collection of accurate statistics.

He and Gillian Mezey, now professor of forensic psychiatry at St George’s Hospital, London, co-wrote Male Victims of Sexual Assault, and contributed towards changes in the legal definition of male rape. King and Mezey were among the first to examine the impact of male sexual assault on mental health.

Appearing frequently in custody cases with lesbian and gay parents, King also helped to change the popular perception that children with gay parents were at risk. He also gave expert evidence to the Church of England Synod on same-sex marriage and the ordination of LGBT ministers. Although he was not a theologian, he quoted elegantly from the Bible—a reflection, friends say, of an exceptionally widely read man.

In 2001, King co-founded the Royal College of Psychiatrists’ special interest group on LGBT mental health, remaining an active member until a few weeks before his death.

He met his life partner, Irwin Nazareth, in 1984 at the Gay Medical Association. Nazareth is professor of primary care and population sciences at UCL. Having celebrated their civil partnership in 2006 they married in 2017. King leaves Nazareth, two nieces, and a nephew.

In 2019 King contracted a non-tuberculous mycobacterium (NTM) infection, later found to be linked to an extremely rare lung condition, pleuroparenchymal fibroelastosis (PPFE). Until 2017 only 100 cases of PPFE were thought to have been identified, leaving patients feeling isolated. Highlighting his positive approach to life, King founded the first NTM patient support group, NTM Patient Care UK (www.ntmpatientcare.uk).

Michael King (b 1950; q Auckland, New Zealand, 1975; MD, PhD, FRCGP, FRCP, FRCP), died from pleuroparenchymal fibroelastosis on 20 September 2021.

Summary

Abstract

Aim

Method

Results

Conclusion

Author Information

John Illman: BMJ.

Acknowledgements

Correspondence

Correspondence Email

Competing Interests

For the PDF of this article,
contact nzmj@nzma.org.nz

View Article PDF

1950–2021

Renowned as brilliant, kind, and humorous, Michael King helped to transform University College London’s division of psychiatry into an international centre of excellence. A gay man, he was among the first doctors to “come out.” In characteristic forthright and courageous fashion, he attacked medicine for perceiving homosexuality as a diagnosis to treat. Speaking on a podcast for the University of Melbourne in 2017, he said: “I think it’s been one of the most stigmatising prejudicial things to have happened.”

The popular perception may be that society is increasingly more accepting of diversity, but King questioned how much deep-rooted prejudice had been exorcised, fearing that Russia and some east European countries had gone backwards because of their homophobic leaders.

He said: “Homophobia from childhood onwards has severe and long-lasting effects, making people vulnerable to suicide, even people who seem to be in stable relationships. Parental attitudes and support is one of the strongest predictors of trouble in youth or in your 20s as a gay person. An accepting parent can reduce your risk of suicide attempts by 50–70%.”

Gentle ferocity

As a debater King was known for disarming his opponents by the gentle ferocity of his curiosity. His friend and fellow psychiatrist Helen Killaspy, also of UCL, recalls a House of Lords debate when King underlined the dangers of reparative therapy—attempts to change a person’s sexual orientation from homosexuality or bisexuality to heterosexuality.

She said: “We never had a chance of winning the debate. The numbers were stacked against us, but the opposing speakers could not but warm to questions from Michael such as: ‘But why do you think like this?’ He was so calm and non-defensive.

“He had an insatiable interest in people and brought this to his work, combining his natural curiosity and humour with methodological rigour.”

King was far more than a gay crusader. A prolific researcher, with 796 peer reviewed publications, and more due posthumously, he supervised 30 doctoral students and was influential in attracting and supporting the development of junior clinical and non-clinical academics in psychiatry. Speaking French, German, and Spanish, he started numerous longstanding international collaborations in Australasia, Europe, India, and South America.

Life and career

The son of a New Zealand farmer, Bruce King, and his wife, Patricia, young Michael studied zoology at Canterbury University, Christchurch, before qualifying in medicine in Auckland and training there as a physician. He moved to the UK in 1976 to study general practice.

He trained in psychiatric epidemiology at the GP research unit at the Institute of Psychiatry, London, and gained an MD (University of Auckland, 1986) and a doctorate (University of London, 1989) before he became a senior lecturer in the department of academic psychiatry at the Royal Free Hospital School of Medicine. He took over as head of department in 1996.

His numerous contributions to psychiatry encompassed risk prediction for mental disorders, evaluation of talking therapies and other complex interventions, end-of-life care for cancer patients, and religious and spiritual beliefs in mental wellbeing.

An excellent clinician, he founded the psychosexual service at Camden and Islington NHS Foundation Trust, where he was consultant psychiatrist for 30 years.

In the 1990s he was instrumental in changing how the cause of death was recorded for patients with HIV/AIDS to mitigate the associated stigma without compromising the collection of accurate statistics.

He and Gillian Mezey, now professor of forensic psychiatry at St George’s Hospital, London, co-wrote Male Victims of Sexual Assault, and contributed towards changes in the legal definition of male rape. King and Mezey were among the first to examine the impact of male sexual assault on mental health.

Appearing frequently in custody cases with lesbian and gay parents, King also helped to change the popular perception that children with gay parents were at risk. He also gave expert evidence to the Church of England Synod on same-sex marriage and the ordination of LGBT ministers. Although he was not a theologian, he quoted elegantly from the Bible—a reflection, friends say, of an exceptionally widely read man.

In 2001, King co-founded the Royal College of Psychiatrists’ special interest group on LGBT mental health, remaining an active member until a few weeks before his death.

He met his life partner, Irwin Nazareth, in 1984 at the Gay Medical Association. Nazareth is professor of primary care and population sciences at UCL. Having celebrated their civil partnership in 2006 they married in 2017. King leaves Nazareth, two nieces, and a nephew.

In 2019 King contracted a non-tuberculous mycobacterium (NTM) infection, later found to be linked to an extremely rare lung condition, pleuroparenchymal fibroelastosis (PPFE). Until 2017 only 100 cases of PPFE were thought to have been identified, leaving patients feeling isolated. Highlighting his positive approach to life, King founded the first NTM patient support group, NTM Patient Care UK (www.ntmpatientcare.uk).

Michael King (b 1950; q Auckland, New Zealand, 1975; MD, PhD, FRCGP, FRCP, FRCP), died from pleuroparenchymal fibroelastosis on 20 September 2021.

Summary

Abstract

Aim

Method

Results

Conclusion

Author Information

John Illman: BMJ.

Acknowledgements

Correspondence

Correspondence Email

Competing Interests

Contact diana@nzma.org.nz
for the PDF of this article

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