Theodore Dalrymple

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Theodore Dalrymple
Dalrymple in 2007
Anthony Malcolm Daniels

(1949-10-11) 11 October 1949 (age 74)
Kensington, London, England
Other namesEdward Theberton, Thursday Msigwa
Occupation(s)Author, journalist, physician, psychiatrist
Notable workLife at the Bottom: The Worldview That Makes the Underclass
Our Culture, What's Left of It
Spoilt Rotten: The Toxic Cult of Sentimentality

Anthony Malcolm Daniels (born 11 October 1949), also known by the pen name Theodore Dalrymple (/dælˈrɪmpəl/), is a conservative English cultural critic, prison physician and psychiatrist. He worked in a number of Sub-Saharan African countries as well as in the East End of London. Before his retirement in 2005, he worked in City Hospital, Birmingham[1] and Winson Green Prison in inner-city Birmingham, England.

Daniels is a contributing editor to City Journal, published by the Manhattan Institute, where he is the Dietrich Weismann Fellow.[2] In addition to City Journal, his work has appeared in: The British Medical Journal, The Times, New Statesman, The Observer, The Daily Telegraph, The Spectator, The Salisbury Review, National Review, New English Review, The Wall Street Journal [3] and Axess magasin. He is the author of a number of books, including: Life at the Bottom: The Worldview That Makes the Underclass (2001), Our Culture, What's Left of It (2005) and Spoilt Rotten: The Toxic Cult of Sentimentality (2010).

In his writing, Daniels frequently argues that the leftist views prevalent within Western intellectual circles minimise the responsibility of individuals for their own actions and undermine traditional mores, contributing to the formation within prosperous countries of an underclass afflicted by endemic violence, criminality, sexually transmitted diseases, welfare dependency, and drug abuse. Much of Dalrymple's writing is based on his experience of working with criminals and the mentally ill.

In 2011, Dalrymple was awarded the Prize for Liberty by the Flemish classical-liberal think-tank Libera!.[4]


Daniels was born in Kensington, London.[5] His father was a Communist businessman of Russian Jewish descent,[6] while his Jewish mother was born in Germany.[7] She came to England as a refugee from the Nazi regime.[8] His grandfather had served as a major in the German Army during WW1.[9]

His work as a physician took him to: Southern Rhodesia (now, Zimbabwe), Tanzania, South Africa and the Gilbert Islands (now, Kiribati).[10] He returned to the United Kingdom in 1990, where he worked in London and Birmingham.[11]

In 1991, he made an extended appearance on British television under the name Theodore Dalrymple. On 23 February, he took part in an After Dark discussion, called "Prisons: No Way Out", alongside former gangster Tony Lambrianou, Greek journalist and writer Taki Theodoracopulos, and others.[12]

In 2005, he retired early as a consultant psychiatrist.[13] He has a house in Bridgnorth, Shropshire, and also a house in France.[14]

Regarding his pseudonym "Theodore Dalrymple", he wrote that he "chose a name that sounded suitably dyspeptic, that of a gouty old man looking out of the window of his London club, port in hand, lamenting the degenerating state of the world".[15]

He is an atheist, but has criticised anti-theism and says that "To regret religion is, in fact, to regret our civilization and its monuments, its achievements, and its legacy".[16] Raised in a non-religious Jewish home, he began doubting the existence of a God at age nine. He became an atheist in response to a moment in a school assembly.[16]

Daniels has also used other pen names. As "Edward Theberton", he has written articles for The Spectator from countries in Africa, including Mozambique.[17] He used the name "Thursday Msigwa" when he wrote Filosofa's Republic, a satire of Tanzania under Julius Nyerere.[18] He may also have used another pen name, in addition to his bona fide name.[15]


Daniels began sending unsolicited articles to The Spectator in the early 1980s; his first published work, entitled A Bit of a Myth appeared in the magazine in August 1983 under the name A.M. Daniels.[10] Charles Moore wrote in 2004 that "Theodore Dalrymple, then writing under a different pseudonym, is the only writer I have ever chosen to publish on the basis of unsolicited articles".[19] Between 1984 and 1991 Daniels published articles in The Spectator under the pseudonym Edward Theberton.

Daniels has written extensively on culture, art, politics, education, and medicine – often drawing on his experiences as a doctor and psychiatrist in Africa and the United Kingdom. The historian Noel Malcolm has described Daniels's written accounts of his experiences working at a prison and a public hospital in Birmingham as "journalistic gold",[20] and Moore observed that "it was only when he returned to Britain that he found what he considered to be true barbarism – the cheerless, self-pitying hedonism and brutality of the dependency culture. Now he is its unmatched chronicler."[19] Daniel Hannan wrote in 2011 that Dalrymple "writes about Koestler's essays and Ethiopian religious art and Nietzschean eternal recurrence – subjects which, in Britain, are generally reserved for the reliably Left-of-Centre figures who appear on Start the Week and Newsnight Review. It is Theodore's misfortune to occupy a place beyond the mental co-ordinates of most commissioning editors."[4]

Life at the Bottom: The Worldview That Makes the Underclass, a collection of essays was published in book form in 2001. The essays, which the Manhattan Institute had first begun publishing in City Journal in 1994, deal with themes such as personal responsibility, the mentality of society as a whole, and the troubles of the underclass. As part of his research for the book, Dalrymple interviewed over 10,000 people who had attempted suicide.

Our Culture, What's Left of It: The Mandarins and the Masses, published in 2005, is another collection of essays in which he contends that the middle class's abandonment of traditional cultural and behavioural aspirations has, by example, fostered routine incivility and militant ignorance among the poor. He examines diverse themes and figures in the book including Shakespeare, Marx, Virginia Woolf, food deserts and volitional underclass malnutrition, recreational vulgarity, and the legalisation of drugs. One of the essays in the book, "When Islam Breaks Down", was named one of the most important essays of 2004 by David Brooks in The New York Times.[21]

In 2009, Dalrymple's British publisher Monday Books published two books of his. The first, Not With a Bang But A Whimper, appeared in August 2009. It is different from the United States book of the same name, though some of the author's essays appear in both books. In October 2009, Monday Books published Second Opinion, a further collection of Dalrymple essays, this time dealing exclusively with his work in a British hospital and prison.[22]

With Gibson Square Dalrymple then published his most successful book Spoilt Rotten: The Toxic Cult of Sentimentality (2010), which analyses how sentimentality has become culturally entrenched in British society with seriously harmful effects. In 2011, he published Litter: What Remains of Our Culture, followed by The Pleasure of Thinking (2012), Threats of Pain and Ruin (2014), and others.

Dalrymple was a judge for the 2013 Hippocrates Prize for Poetry and Medicine.[23][24]

In May 2023 he spoke at the National Conservatism Conference in London on the subject of "Historiography and the State of the Western Mind".[25]

He currently writes a weekly commentary column for the online Taki's Magazine.


Daniels's writing has some recurring themes.

  • The cause of much contemporary misery in Western countries – criminality, domestic violence, drug addiction, aggressive youths, hooliganism, broken families – is the nihilistic, decadent and/or self-destructive behaviour of people who do not know how to live. Both the smoothing over of this behaviour, and the medicalisation of the problems that emerge as a corollary of this behaviour, are forms of indifference. Someone has to tell those people, patiently and with understanding for the particulars of the case, that they have to live differently.[26]
  • Poverty does not explain aggressive, criminal and self-destructive behaviour. In an African slum you will find among the very poor, living in dreadful circumstances, dignity and decency in abundance, which are painfully lacking in an average English suburb, although its inhabitants are much wealthier.[27]
  • An attitude characterised by gratefulness and having obligations towards others has been replaced – with awful consequences – by an awareness of "rights" and a sense of entitlement, without responsibilities. This leads to resentment as the rights become violated by parents, authorities, bureaucracies and others in general.[28]
  • One of the things that make Islam attractive to young westernised Muslim men is the opportunity it gives them to dominate women.[29]
  • Technocratic or bureaucratic solutions to the problems of mankind produce disasters in cases where the nature of man is the root cause of those problems.
  • It is a myth, when going "cold turkey" from an opiate such as heroin, that the withdrawal symptoms are virtually unbearable; they are in fact hardly worse than flu.[30][31]
  • Criminality is much more often the cause of drug addiction than its consequence.
  • Sentimentality, which is becoming entrenched in British society, is "the progenitor, the godparent, the midwife of brutality".[32]
  • High culture and refined aesthetic tastes are worth defending, and despite the protestations of non-judgmentalists who say all expression is equal, they are superior to popular culture.[33][34][35]
  • The ideology of the Welfare State is used to diminish personal responsibility. Erosion of personal responsibility makes people dependent on institutions and favours the existence of a threatening and vulnerable underclass.
  • Moral relativism can easily be a trick of an egotistical mind to silence the voice of conscience.[36]
  • Multiculturalism and cultural relativism are at odds with common sense.[37]
  • The decline of civilised behaviour – self-restraint, modesty, zeal, humility, irony, detachment – ruins social and personal life.[38]
  • The root cause of our contemporary cultural poverty is intellectual dishonesty. First, the intellectuals have destroyed the foundation of culture, and second, they refuse to acknowledge it by resorting to the caves of political correctness.[citation needed]


  • Coups and Cocaine: Two Journeys in South America (1986)
  • Fool or Physician: The Memoirs of a Sceptical Doctor (1987)
  • Zanzibar to Timbuktu (1988)
  • Filosofa's Republic (1989) (published under the pen name Thursday Msigwa)
  • Sweet Waist of America: Journeys around Guatemala (1990)
  • The Wilder Shores of Marx: Journeys in a Vanishing World (1991) ISBN 009174153X (published in the U.S. as Utopias Elsewhere) ISBN 978-0517585481
  • Monrovia Mon Amour: A Visit to Liberia (1992)
  • If Symptoms Persist: Anecdotes from a Doctor (1994)
  • So Little Done: The Testament of a Serial Killer (1996)
  • If Symptoms Still Persist (1996)
  • Mass Listeria: The Meaning of Health Scares (1998)
  • An Intelligent Person's Guide to Medicine (2001)
  • Life at the Bottom: The Worldview That Makes the Underclass (2001) ISBN 1-56663-382-6
  • Violence, Disorder and Incivility in British Hospitals: The Case For Zero Tolerance Archived 28 October 2020 at the Wayback Machine (book published by the Social Affairs Unit, 2002) ISBN 0-907631-97-5
  • Our Culture, What's Left of It: The Mandarins and the Masses (2005) ISBN 1-56663-643-4
  • Romancing Opiates: Pharmacological Lies and the Addiction Bureaucracy (2006) ISBN 1-59403-087-1 (published in the U.K. as Junk Medicine: Doctors, Lies and the Addiction Bureaucracy ISBN 1-905641-59-1)
  • Making Bad Decisions. About the Way we Think of Social Problems (2006) (Dr. J. Tans Lecture 2006; published by Studium Generale Maastricht, The Netherlands. Lecture read on Wednesday 15 November 2006. ISBN 978-90-78769-01-9)
  • In Praise of Prejudice: The Necessity of Preconceived Ideas (2007)[39] ISBN 1-59403-202-5
  • Not With a Bang But a Whimper: The Politics and Culture of Decline (US edition) (2008) ISBN 1-56663-795-3
  • Second Opinion. A Doctor's Notes from the Inner City (2009) ISBN 978-1-906308-12-4
  • Not With a Bang But a Whimper: The Politics and Culture of Decline (UK edition; contains three essays that are not in the US edition) (2009) ISBN 978-1-906308-10-0
  • The Examined Life (2010a) ISBN 978-1906308162
  • The New Vichy Syndrome. Why European Intellectuals Surrender to Barbarism (2010b) ISBN 978-1-59403-372-8
  • Spoilt Rotten: The Toxic Cult of Sentimentality. 2010c. ISBN 978-1-906142-61-2.
  • Vrijheid en oprechtheid (Freedom and integrity), Pelckmans (2011), together with Bart De Wever
  • Mr Clarke's Modest Proposal: Supportive Evidence from Yeovil (2011). Social Affairs Unit. ISBN 978-1904863601
  • Anything Goes (2011). New English Review Press. ISBN 978-0578084893
  • Litter: How Other People's Rubbish Shapes Our Life (2011). Gibson Square Books. ISBN 978-1906142865
  • Farewell Fear (2012). New English Review Press. ISBN 978-0985439477
  • The Pleasure of Thinking: A Journey through the Sideways Leaps of Ideas (2012). Gibson Square Books. ISBN 978-1908096081
  • Threats of Pain and Ruin (2014). New English Review Press. ISBN 978-0991652112
  • Admirable Evasions: How Psychology Undermines Morality (2015). Encounter Books. ISBN 978-1594037870
  • Out into the Beautiful World (2015). New English Review Press. ISBN 978-1943003020
  • Migration, Multiculturalism and its Metaphors: Selected Essays (2016). Connor Court. ISBN 978-1-925501-10-0
  • The Proper Procedure and Other Stories (2017). New English Review Press. ISBN 978-1943003105
  • The Knife Went In: Real-Life Murderers and Our Culture (2018). Gibson Square. ISBN 978-1783341184
  • The Terror of Existence: From Ecclesiastes to Theatre of the Absurd (2018). New English Review Press. ISBN 978-1943003228
  • False Positive: A Year of Error, Omission, and Political Correctness in the New England Journal of Medicine (2019). ISBN 978-1641770460
  • In Praise of Folly: The Blind-spots of Our Mind (2019). Gibson Square. ISBN 978-1783341412
  • Embargo and Other Stories (2020).[40] Mirabeau Press. ISBN 978-0578674537
  • Around the World in the Cinemas of Paris (2020). Mirabeau Press. ISBN 978-1735705507
  • Saving the Planet and Other Stories (2021). Mirabeau Press. ISBN 978-1735705521
  • Ramses: A Memoir (2022). New English Review Press. ISBN 978-1943003709
  • Neither Trumpets Nor Violins (2022). New English Review Press. ISBN 978-1943003563 (co-written with Samuel Hux and Kenneth Francis)
  • The Wheelchair and Other Stories (2022). Mirabeau Press. ISBN 978-1735705545
  • These Spindrift Pages (2023). Mirabeau Press. ISBN 978-1735705552


  1. ^ Ferner, R. E.; Daniels, A. M. (2003). "NEJM paper". The New England Journal of Medicine. 348 (1): 81–82. doi:10.1056/NEJM200301023480118. PMID 12510051.
  2. ^ "City Journal: Theodore Dalrymple". Manhattan Institute. Retrieved 31 December 2010.
  3. ^ Dalrymple, Theodore (5 June 2017). "Terror and the Teddy Bear Society". The Wall Street Journal.
  4. ^ a b Daniel Hannan (4 May 2011). "In praise of Flanders, Right-wing intellectuals and Theodore Dalrymple". The Daily Telegraph. Archived from the original on 7 May 2011. Retrieved 5 May 2011.
  5. ^ "Theodore Dalrymple". Goodreads. Retrieved 2 June 2021.
  6. ^ The Spectator in the Breast of Man. Peter Saunders talks to Theodore Dalrymple: My mother was a refugee from Nazi Germany in 1938 and my father was East London Jewish.
  7. ^ Theodore Dalrymple (2013). The New Vichy Syndrome: Why European Intellectuals Surrender to Barbarism. Encounter Books. p. ii. ISBN 9781566636438.
  8. ^ Theodore Dalrymple (2005). Our Culture, What's Left of It. Ivan R. Dee. p. 158. ISBN 9781566636438.
  9. ^ Not With a Bang But a Whimper: The Politics and Culture of Decline, By Theodore Dalrymple, (Ivan R. Dee, 2 Sep 2008), page 80
  10. ^ a b A bit of a myth, A. M. Daniels, The Spectator, 26 August 1983
  11. ^ The doctor is in, The New Criterion, 17 May 2004
  12. ^ "PRISONS – WHICH WAY OUT?". British Film Institute. Archived from the original on 3 August 2013. Retrieved 17 June 2014.
  13. ^ A doctor's farewell Archived 25 February 2016 at the Wayback Machine, The Spectator, 22 January 2005
  14. ^ Minutes of the Extraordinary Meeting of Bridgnorth Town Council Archived 28 July 2020 at the Wayback Machine held in the Mayor's Parlour, College House on Monday, 28 October 2013 at 7.15pm
  15. ^ a b Dalrymple, Theodore (16 February 2008). "Where nobody knows your name". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 18 September 2013.
  16. ^ a b Dalrymple, Theodore. "What the New Atheists Don't See". City Journal. Archived from the original on 20 March 2015. Retrieved 5 January 2009.
  17. ^ Black Marx, Edward Theberton, The Spectator, 4 July 1986, page 13
  18. ^ Political Violence, Paul Hollander, Palgrave Macmillan, 2008
  19. ^ a b Charles Moore (15 May 2004). "What's wrong with Britain? Less than the Jeremiahs allow". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 31 December 2010.
  20. ^ Noel Malcolm (15 August 2010). "Spoilt Rotten! by Theodore Dalrymple: review". The Sunday Telegraph. Retrieved 23 October 2010.
  21. ^ David Brooks (25 December 2004). "The Hookie Awards". The New York Times. Retrieved 18 August 2015.
  22. ^ The publisher made extracts from both works available free of charge on its Web site Not With A Bang But A Whimper Second Opinion
  23. ^ "2013 Hippocrates Prize | Hippocrates Initiative for Poetry and Medicine | Donald RJ Singer". Retrieved 18 December 2020.
  24. ^ "Judges announced for the 2013 Hippocrates Prize | Hippocrates Initiative for Poetry and Medicine | Donald RJ Singer". Retrieved 18 December 2020.
  25. ^ Theodore Dalrymple, Retrieved 8 July 2023.
  26. ^ Life at the bottom. The Worldview that makes the Underclass (passim).
  27. ^ Theodore Dalrymple (Spring 1999). "What is Poverty?". City Journal. Archived from the original on 3 March 2016. Retrieved 12 August 2009.
  28. ^ 'The Law of Conservation of Righteous Indignation, and its Connection to the Expansion of Human Rights', in: In Praise of Prejudice. The Necessity of Preconceived Ideas, p. 68 (chapter 17).
  29. ^ In The Gelded Age. A review of America Alone: The End of the World as We Know It, by Mark Steyn (Website The Claremont Institute, 9 April 2007), Dalrymple wrote: "The principal immediate attraction of Islam to young Muslims brought up in the West is actually the control and oppression of women". A similar idea is expressed in The Suicide Bombers Among Us Archived 3 March 2016 at the Wayback Machine (City Journal, Autumn 2005). In that piece Dalrymple wrote: "However secular the tastes of the young Muslim men, they strongly wish to maintain the male dominance they have inherited from their parents".
  30. ^ Theodore Dalrymple (9 April 1999). "Cold turkey is no worse than flu". New Statesman. Archived from the original on 23 June 2015. Retrieved 22 June 2015.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  31. ^ Theodore Dalrymple (7 February 2003). "Addicted to lies: junking heroin is no worse than flu". The Times. Retrieved 31 October 2009.
  32. ^ Dalrymple 2010c, p. 50
  33. ^ "The Baroque is superior to Rock: high culture is no bulwark against barbarism – but Baroque does not make those already predisposed to violence even more violent". Social Affairs Unit. 10 October 2005. Archived from the original on 20 October 2021. Retrieved 21 April 2009.
  34. ^ Theodore Dalrymple (Winter 1998). "Poetry and Self-Pity". City Journal. Archived from the original on 6 September 2015. Retrieved 11 May 2007.
  35. ^ Theodore Dalrymple (Winter 1998). "Trash, Violence, and Versace: But Is It Art?". City Journal. Archived from the original on 3 March 2016. Retrieved 12 June 2008.
  36. ^ 'The Uses of Metaphysical Skepticism', in: In Praise of Prejudice. The Necessity of Preconceived Ideas, p. 6 (chapter 2).
  37. ^ Theodore Dalrymple (Summer 2004). "Multiculturalism Starts Losing Its Luster". City Journal. Archived from the original on 3 March 2016. Retrieved 12 July 2009.
  38. ^ Theodore Dalrymple (Summer 1999). "All Our Pomp of Yesterday". City Journal. Archived from the original on 3 March 2016. Retrieved 12 June 2008.
  39. ^ Dalrymple draws heavily on Andreas Dorschel's seminal study Rethinking Prejudice. Ashgate, Aldershot (UK) – Burlington (USA) – Singapore – Sydney 2000.
  40. ^ Steve (17 May 2020). "New Dalrymple book: Embargo and Other Stories". The Skeptical Doctor. Retrieved 11 December 2020.

External links[edit]