Psychiatric gadfly: in search of Reginald Ellery



Publication Details

Kaplan, R. M. (2012). Psychiatric gadfly: in search of Reginald Ellery. Australasian Psychiatry, 20 (1), 7-13.



To explore the life and contributions of Reginald Spencer Ellery (1897-1955), one of the most eminent psychiatrists in Australia between the wars.


Ellery pioneered malariotherapy and psychoanalysis, mixed with leading intellectuals, including Max Harris, John and Sunday Reed, was a member of the Communist Party, wrote poetry and published widely on a wide range of topics. Ellery was talented, innovative, driven and highly energetic, managing a range of activities aside from his work without difficulty. While his writing talent was questioned by some, there is no doubting his influence on painters such as Albert Tucker and Sidney Nolan and his standing in the intellectual life of Melbourne. Ellery was uncompromising in his public stand on issues such as communism and psychoanalysis, but by the end of his life he was deeply disillusioned. Ellery's autobiography, The Cow Jumped Over the Moon, confirms the impression of a restless and creative mind reluctant to be constrained by conventional orthodoxy, the most eminent Australian psychiatrist of his time. His diverse achievements and talent, now largely forgotten, deserve recognition from a profession that is rapidly losing its links with the historical past.

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