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Kinnier Wilson and his textbook
It is widely acknowledged that SA Kinnier Wilson's (SAKW) two volume textbook of Neurology published posthumously in 1940,1 3 years after his death, is among the greatest single author works on the subject in any language. SAKW was fluent in French and German and his knowledge of neurological and psychiatric developments in both languages, as well as his own, became encyclopaedic, reinforced by his founding and editing of the Journal of Neurology and Psychopathology, now the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry, from 1920 onwards.2
The difficult but ultimately successful task of editing and publishing this valuable but unfinished book fell on his brother-in-law, Ninian Bruce, a distinguished Edinburgh physician with an interest in neurology. The second volume ends rather inconclusively with chapters on motor, occupational, sensory and reflex neuroses. SAKW was the last neurologist to use the term ‘neuroses’ in its original neurological sense of a disorder of nervous system function without local pathology.3 A glaring omission from the book is any chapter on hysteria, long a subject of interest to neurologists but enhanced by increasing experience and literature related to World War I.4–7 A chapter on the psychoneurosis, hysteria, would have been the next logical chapter, all the more so as I have become aware that SAKW wrote extensively on the subject, which was obviously of great interest to him. Through my contact with SAKW's son, James Kinnier Wilson, I have in my possession a reprint of a thorough but overlooked review of hysteria published by SAKW in Encyclopaedia Medica in 1919,8 which with some updating could have formed the basis of a chapter in his later textbook. SAKW also wrote on the subject before9 and after 1919, notably his Presidential …
Competing interests None.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; internally peer reviewed.