Professor Sir Michael Rutter was born in 1933 and trained in general medicine, neurology and paediatrics before specialising in psychiatry. He was appointed the first consultant of child psychiatry in the UK and has been Head of the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at the Institute of Psychiatry, London, and Honorary Director of the Medical Research Council Child Psychiatry Unit.
His studies of autism, depression, antisocial behaviour, reading difficulties, deprived children, overactive children, school effectiveness and children whose psychiatric problems have a clear organic component has resulted in many publications. One of the most influential was Maternal Deprivation Reassessed (1972) in which he argued (against John Bowlby) that it was the norm for children to form multiple attachments rather than a selective attachment with just one person. Professor Rutter is recognised as contributing to the establishment of child psychiatry as a medical and biopsychosocial specialty with a strong scientific base. In 1994 he set up the Social, Genetic and Developmental Psychiatry Unit at the Institute of Psychiatry. The goal of the Centre is to bridge the gap between ‘nature’ (genetics) and ‘nurture’ (environment) as they interact in the development of complex human behaviour, such as depression and Attention Deficity Hyperactivity Disorder in children.
Professor Rutter was knighted in 1992 and is an honorary member of the British Academy, a Fellow of the Royal Society, and founding Fellow of the Academia Europaea and the Academy of Medical Sciences. The Michael Rutter Centre for Children and Adolescents at the Maudsley Hospital, London, is named after him.