MacDonald Critchley

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MacDonald Critchley
MacDonald Critchley.jpg
Critchley in 1969
Born2 February 1900
Died15 October 1997 (aged 97)
TitlePresident of the World Federation of Neurology

Macdonald Critchley CBE (2 February 1900 – 15 October 1997) was a British neurologist. He was former president of the World Federation of Neurology, and the author of over 200 published articles on neurology and 20 books, including The Parietal Lobes (1953), Aphasiology, and biographies of James Parkinson and Sir William Gowers.


Macdonald Critchley was born at Bristol, son of gas collector Arthur Frank Critchley and Rosina Matilda (née White);[1] he was educated in Bristol and received his medical degree there. His professional life centred on King's College Hospital and National Hospital for Paralysis and Epilepsy, Queen Square "for the Paralysed and Epileptic", London. He was a Registrar in 1927, and he was appointed to the staff as a physician in the following year and later became Dean of the Institute at Queen Square. His influence spread throughout the neurological world by teaching and writings and he later became President of the World Federation of Neurology. He studied under Gordon Morgan Holmes, Samuel Alexander Kinnier Wilson and Francis Walshe.[2]

During World War II he was a Consulting Neurologist in the Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve based at HMS Drake.[3]

His contributions to knowledge depended not on technology, but on his power of observation and meticulous dissection of human sensibility and behaviour. The best known of his works were those on aphasia and the parietal lobes. Headache was also one of his many interests. He started a Headache Clinic at King's College Hospital and was one of the founders of the "British Migraine Trust". He delivered a paper at the "First Migraine Symposium" in 1966 on "Migraine: from Cappadocia to Queen Square", combining his clinical interest with his love of history. Critchley was a handsome and impressive figure, a superb speaker and a lifelong student of the human mind. His last book on the life and career of Hughlings Jackson, jointly with his wife Eileen, has been published posthumously.

He had married twice: firstly Edna Morris, with whom he had two sons (one of whom being the politician Julian Critchley)[4] and secondly Eileen Hargreaves.[5] He lived at Hughlings House (named in honour of John Hughlings Jackson), at Nether Stowey in Somerset.[6][7]

In 2013 the weekly undergraduate teaching round at the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery at Queen Square was named after him - the Critchley Round.

Associated eponyms[edit]

  • Adie-Critchley syndrome: A syndrome of forced grasping and groping.
  • Klein-Levine- Critchley syndrome: A syndrome of hypersoomnia and hyperphagia.
  • Levine-Critchley syndrome: Acanthocytosis Neuroacanthocytosis with neurologic disorders detailed by Edmund Critchley not Macdonald Critchley).


  • The Parietal Lobes. London, Edward Arnold, 1953
  • The Enigma of Gerstmann's Syndrome. Oxford, Brain, 1966
  • Music and the Brain: Studies in the Neurology of Music (with R.A.Henson). London, Heinemann, 1977
  • John Hughlings Jackson, Father of English Neurology (with Eileen A. Critchley). London, 1998
  • Critchley, Macdonald (1979). The Divine Banquet of the Brain. New York, USA: Raven Press Books, Ltd. ISBN 0890043485.
  • Critchley, Macdonald (1986). The Citadel of the Senses and Other Essays. New York, USA: Raven Press. ISBN 0881671053.


  1. ^ "The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. 2004. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/69194. ISBN 978-0-19-861412-8. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  2. ^ "The Neuro Times: Featured Neurologist: Macdonald Critchley (1900-1997)". Archived from the original on 4 June 2012. Retrieved 19 June 2012.
  3. ^ "Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve (RNVR) Officers 1939-1945 -- C".
  4. ^ Garnett, Mark (2004). "Critchley, Sir Julian Michael Gordon (1930–2000), politician". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/74606. ISBN 978-0-19-861412-8. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  5. ^ "Featured Neurologist: Macdonald Critchley (1900–1997)". The Neuro Times. Retrieved 25 October 2012.
  6. ^ Critchley, Macdonald (May 1986). "Validate User". Archives of Neurology. 43 (5): 435–437. doi:10.1001/archneur.1986.00520050015013. PMID 3516126.
  7. ^ Compston, A. (2010). "Editorial" (PDF). Brain. 133 (2): 311–313. doi:10.1093/brain/awp344. PMID 20159767.

External links[edit]