Frederick Walker Mott 1853-1926)*
Sir Frederick Walter Mott was born at Brighton.
He graduated in 1881 from University College Medical School with MB, BS, first class, and as university scholar and gold medallist in forensic medicine. Among his contemporaries were W.D. Halliburton (1860-1931), V. Horsley (1852-1916), Sidney Martin and Leonard Hill. He spent a period mixing with foreign postgraduate medical workers, studying pathology in Vienna.
In 1883 he was appointed Assistant Professor of Physiology at Liverpool, and left this post in 1884 to lecture on physiology at the Charing Cross Hospital Medical School. In 1886 he obtained his MD and MRCP. In 1890 he became Assistant Physician to Charing Cross Hospital and in 1894 full Physician, and began lecturing first on general pathology and then on neurology.
In 1893 he published his first independent noteworthy research on the spinal cord of the monkey and the immediate and remote effects of hemisection, Philosohical Transactions B, Vol. 183. This had been preceded by work with E.A. Sharpey-Schafer, with Victor Horsley, with Leonard Hill, with W.D. Halliburton and later with C.S. Sherrington on cortical localisation in the gibbon.
In 1895 he was appointed Pathologist to the Central Laboratory of the London County Council Asylum at Claybury, though he retained connection with Charing Cross, and began his special studies of the pathology of the nervous system in relation to the psychoses, especially general paralysis. Krafft-Ebing (1840-1902) had proclaimed its syphilitic origin, but this view was at that time accepted by a minority of psychiatrists. In his ‘The aetiology and pathology of general paralysis’ Mott, by analysing a vast amount of clinical and anatomical evidence, irrefutably demonstrated, in the days before Wassermann, the link with syphilis. The paper was published in the Archives of Neurology, Vol. 1 (1900), which he founded. In 1896 he was elected an FRS.
His inquiries into the bacteriology of hospital dysentery and tuberculosis led to reforms in hygiene in mental hospitals and enormous reduction of mortality from these diseases. His Croonian Lectures in 1900, Degeneration of the Neurone, are a record of one of the first attempts to seek for the products of nervous disintegration in the living body. During the 1914-18 war, he was consultant neurologist to the Fourth London General Hospital, King’s College, and to the Maudsley Hospital, which was attached to it. He published a book and several papers on ‘shell shock’. He devoted the Lettsomian Lectures of 1916 to ‘The effect of high explosives on the nervous system’ and the Chadwick Lecture m 1917 to ‘Mental hygiene in shell shock during and after the war’.
In 1923 he became Honorary Director of the Joint Board of Research for Mental Diseases, City and University of Birmingham, and Lecturer in Morbid Psychology at Birmingham University 1923-26.
In 1925 he gave the Harveian Oration and in 1926 a second Chadwick Lecture on ‘Heredity in relation to mental diseases and mental deficiency’. He played an important role in the establishment of the Maudsley Hospital, influencing the London County Council to establish well-equipped clinical laboratories in each of the mental hospitals that were to be constructed in close connection with and to some extent under the supervision of the central laboratory at the Maudsley. He was also one of the chief agents in establishing postgraduate training in psychiatry (the DPM) at the University of London.
He addressed the British Psychological Society on several occasions, beginning with ‘Bilateral cortical lesion, causing deafness and aphasia’ at the meeting held at Claybury in 1903.
A bibliography is published in Contributions to Psychiatry, Neurology and Sociology, dedicated to the late Sir Frederick Mott (London: H.K. Lewis, 1929).
* The text here is adapted from John Kenna’s ‘Biographical Notes on the Ten Founding Members’, published in Steinberg, H. (Ed.) (1961) The British Psychological Society 1901-1961. Supplement to the Bulletin of the British Psychological Society.