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Professor Max Hamilton (1912–1988) was born on 9 February 1912 at Offenbach am Main, Germany. In 1915, his family (named Himmelschein) emigrated to England. He was educated at the Foundation School in Cowper Street and went on to study medicine at University College Hospital, London. He served from 1939 to 1946 in the Royal Air Force, as a medical officer. Hamilton trained as a psychiatrist at the Maudsley Hospital, London.
His appointment was not renewed by Sir Aubrey Lewis and he had to return to University College Hospital where he worked under Sir Cyril Burt. The latter recognized Hamilton's mathematical talent and advised hin to train in medical statistics. In the event, Hamilton became an innovative statistician and by the late 1940s (years before Kayser in the USA), he had already suggested that factors (in factor analysis) should be rotated. He went on to work under Dennis Hill at King's College Hospital and in 1953, was appointed lecturer in psychiatry at the University of Leeds where few years later he constructed the Hamilton Anxiety and Hamilton Depression Rating Scales.
After working as a visiting scientist at the National Institute of Mental Health, Bethesda, Maryland, USA, he became a member of the external staff of the Medical Research Council and in 1963 succeeded G. R. Hargreaves in the Leeds Chair of Psychiatry. Hamilton was one of the first to introduce psychometrics into psychiatry and to convince a then rather incredulous profession that psychiatric research had to be based on measurement and statistical analysis. He was the first President of the British Association for Psychopharmacology, an honorary fellow of the Royal College of Psychiatrists and one of the few psychiatrists Presidents of the British Psychological Society. In 1980 he was awarded the coveted Paul Hoch prize for distinguished psychiatric research.
He died in August 1988, just two months before he was due to deliver the Maudsley Lecture. He was survived by his wife, Doreen, their son and two daughters, and two sons from his first marriage. As a hobby he photographed flowers, specially narcissi, and to combat his chronic insomnia he loved to dragoon some of his brighter lecturers to spend the night with him writing statistical formulae on an old school blackboard.