Isabella Frankau

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Isabella McDougall Frankau (died May 1967), née Robertson, was a British psychiatrist who specialised in alcohol and drug addiction.

A London-based "society doctor",[1] her readiness to prescribe controlled drugs is credited with single-handedly transforming British drug policy from considering drug addicts as criminals, to be punished to one of considering addiction as an illness, to be treated.[2] From evidence she gave to the Brain Committee, she said the total between 1958 and 1964 was just over 500.[3]

After the death of her first husband Gordon Cunningham she married the eminent surgeon Claude Frankau (1883–1967) in 1935.[4][5] When her husband was knighted in the 1945 New Years Honours[6] Isabella Frankau became known as "Lady Frankau" in accordance with accepted usage.[7]

As Dr Isabella Robertson, she was one of the first researchers at the Maudsley Hospital, initially working with Frederick Mott and Frederick Golla on the physical basis of psychoses.[8][9][10][11] During the Second World War, she worked at Cambridge University's Psychological Laboratory on the use of dietary supplements to improve the physical performance of servicemen.[12] In the early 1950s she researched the use of subconvulsive electroshock therapy treatment for alcoholism.[13][14]


  1. ^ Pop & Jazz: As though he had wings Independent
  2. ^ Drugs policy: The 'British system' BBC News
  3. ^ Heroin addiction care and control: the British System HB Speare 2002, page 148
  4. ^ Anonymous (1967-07-08). "Obituary Notices". British Medical Journal. 3 (5557): 116–117. doi:10.1136/bmj.3.5557.116. PMC 1842382.
  5. ^ "FRANKAU, Sir Claude (Howard Stanley)". Who Was Who. A & C Black. Retrieved 2010-08-22.
  6. ^ "Supplement, January 1, 1945". The London Gazette (36866). December 29, 1944. p. 2.
  7. ^ "Forms of Address – Wife of a Knight". Debrett's. Retrieved 2010-08-23.
  8. ^ Frederick W. Mott and Isabella McDougall Robertson (July 1923). "Histological Examination of the Pituitary Gland in 110 Asylum and Hospital Cases". BJPsych. 69 (286).
  9. ^ Edward Mapother (1926-11-13). "British Medical Association Proceedings of Sections at the Annual Meeting, Nottingham, 1926". British Medical Journal. 2 (3436): 872–885. doi:10.1136/bmj.2.3436.872. PMC 2523649.
  10. ^ Michael Shepherd (1993). "Interview with Sir Aubrey Lewis" (PDF). Psychiatric Bulletin. 17 (12): 743. doi:10.1192/pb.17.12.738. In the transcription Sir Aubrey apparently refers to "the future Lady Frankau" as "Camilla Robertson" rather than "Isabella"
  11. ^ Edgar Jones and Shahina Rahman (July 2009). "The Maudsley Hospital and the Rockefeller Foundation: The Impact of Philanthropy on Research and Training". J Hist Med Allied Sci. 64 (3): 273–299. doi:10.1093/jhmas/jrn065. PMC 2723762. PMID 18996947.
  12. ^ I. M. Frankau (November 13, 1943). "Acceleration of Muscular Effort by Nicotinamide". British Medical Journal. 2 (4323): 601–603. doi:10.1136/bmj.2.4323.601. PMC 2285375. PMID 20785121.
  13. ^ E. Lincoln Williams (December 1954). "The Management of the Chronic Alcoholic". Postgrad Med J. 30 (350): 626–30. doi:10.1136/pgmj.30.350.626. PMC 2501319. PMID 13215184.
  14. ^ "Medical News". British Medical Journal. 1 (4854): 165–166. January 16, 1954. doi:10.1136/bmj.1.4854.165. PMC 2084421.

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