McGill Alert / Alerte de McGill

Updated: Fri, 07/12/2024 - 12:16

McGill Alert. The downtown campus will remain partially closed through the evening of Monday, July 15. See the Campus Safety site for details.

Alerte de McGill. Le campus du centre-ville restera partiellement fermé jusqu’au lundi 15 juillet, en soirée. Complément d’information : Direction de la protection et de la prévention

International Colleagues

Honouring Professor Frederick Hickling

With great sadness, we mourn the passing of our dear friend and colleague Frederick Hickling, who died in Kingston, Jamaica on the evening of May 7 after a sudden illness. He was a giant in the global movements for deinstitutionalization, community mental health and cultural psychiatry. Although much of his work was centred in Jamaica, he trained with Morris Carstairs in Edinburgh, and later worked in New Zealand and in the north of England, where he was deeply influenced by his colleagues, by Fanon, and by the political realization of a free Jamaica, which fueled his optimism and conviction of the constructive role that mental health and the arts could play in social change and human flourishing.

Fred had boundless intellectual energy and creativity—advocating, researching and educating on many fronts to develop a transformative postcolonial psychiatry that addressed what he viewed as “decolonizing the psyche” in a post-slavery era still struggling with the social pathologies borne of centuries of structural violence. With Fred, this transformation began as a medical student, when as stage manager for Jamaica’s National Dance Theatre, he was mentored by Rex Nettleford (later Chancellor of University of the West Indies), planting the seeds for his later development of the psychohistoriographic approach to healing and the use of art for healing and social change. Fred was a fearless in calling out racism, social injustice, and hypocrisy and fighting to counter the depredations of inequality wherever he found them.

He did path-breaking work in Jamaica, developing community psychiatry, using theatre, radio and the arts to bring the voices of patients at Bellevue Hospital to wider awareness, and integrating psychiatry into medicine and primary care. At McGill, with Jaswant Guzder and Duncan Pederson, we were privileged to work with him in recent years, as he developed the extraordinary Dream-a-World resilience model for promoting mental health among children in Jamaica. He was focussed on building vehicles to carry this work forward, developing CARIMENSA with his wife Hilary Hickling and an active research team, teaching and applying his Cultural Therapy and Psychohistoriographical Group Work approaches internationally. He taught for many years in our annual summer program in social and cultural psychiatry, where his passion, integrity, creativity, and commitment to social justice were an inspiration to students from around the world.

His loss is a grievous blow to our international community. We hope to build on his his legacy in future work in mental health promotion, and plan to establish a scholarship in his name for students from the Caribbean to attend our annual summer program, and a thematic issue of Transcultural Psychiatry in his honour.

Dr. Frederick Hickling: Owning our Madness | ULTRASANITY at SAVVY Contemporary 2020

Laurence. J. Kirmayer
Jaswant Guzder
Division of Social and Transcultural Psychiatry
McGill University

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