General practitioner who became a leading psychiatrist to jazz musicians, actors, and writers.
Syd came to England from South Africa in 1938 and started his medical training at Liverpool University.
He trained in chest medicine, joined the Royal Army Medical Corps, and witnessed the horrors of Belsen concentration camp at first hand when he joined the liberating forces to deal with the tuberculosis that was endemic among the survivors. In 1945 he established Merano Sanatorium in northern Italy, and was its medical director until 1950. The sanatorium was dedicated to the treatment of concentration camp survivors, particularly those from Auschwitz.
Syd was always struck by the psychological needs of his patients, from the shattered lives of the concentration camp survivors to the chaotic worlds of East End alcoholics and drug addicts and the fragile sensibilities of jazz musicians. He trained in psychiatry and in 1965 began a private psychotherapy practice alongside his work as a general practitioner, going full time in 1982. He became a leading psychiatrist to performing artists, and made possible the work of many jazz and classical musicians, actors and comedians, as well as writers, dons, doctors, and businessmen. His income from these patients enabled him to help those who were financially less fortunate, and he rarely refused a referral from any source. He was able to unearth and nurture a person’s talent, and in his therapeutic work he painstakingly used this skill to rebuild the shattered and reorganise the chaotic.
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