Therapy Today (Feb 09)

Saturday, 02 April 2011 15:39

Questionnaire published in Therapy Today, February 2009, Vol 20, Iss 1

World-renowned for her work on depression, Dorothy Rowe believes perfect happiness would be very boring

What made you decide to become a clinical psychologist?

When I left university, where I'd majored in psychology, I taught English, history and maths in high school and didn't enjoy it. When I was invited to train as an educational psychologist I seized the chance to escape.

What gives your life purpose?

The purpose of my life is to live.

What is your earliest memory?

I was lying on my mother's lap as she dried me, presumably after a bath.

What are you passionate about?

The stupidity of people who insist on creating and maintaining conflicts, and the stupidity of those who refuse to recognise the immediate peril of climate change.

Do you always tell the truth?

I tell white lies, and when someone asks me about my health I always say, 'Fine', no matter how I actually feel. Lifelong chronic bronchiectasis is a messy business and no one really wants to hear about it. I don't lie about important matters, and I make sure I don't lie to myself even when I'm lying to others in order not to hurt them.

What do you see as the lowest point in your life?

When I was in my last year at school and I knew that my family and my teachers wanted me to do what they wanted, but none of them cared about me. The teachers wanted good results for the school, and my parents and sister were totally wrapped up in themselves.

How do you relax?

I read, or I look at my garden, trees, sky and sea.

What keeps you awake at night?

Nothing. I'm a good sleeper.

Which person has been the greatest influence on you professionally?

Bertrand Russell and neuroscientists like Richard Gregory and Chris Frith.

How do keep yourself grounded?

The knowledge that my time is running out.

What are you reading for pleasure right now?

I no longer have to set myself the task of reading boring material. Everything I read is for pleasure.

Do you fear dying?

There's no point. It will happen no matter how I feel.

What do you feel guilty about?

There are things in my life that I regret but I don't kid myself I feel guilty about them.

What makes you laugh?

The News Quiz on BBC Radio 4 and Have I Got News for You? on BBC2

Where will your next holiday be to and why?

I spend the English winters in Australia.

If you could change anything about society what would it be?

The leaders who start a war have to fight it themselves as foot soldiers. Land would be set aside where wars could be conducted, and anyone who didn't want to fight didn't have to. Armament manufacturers could go on making toys for boys.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Perfect happiness would be very boring.

Do you believe in God?


What's your most treasured possession?

I don't treasure possessions.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

It's too early to say.

Dorothy Rowe is a clinical psychologist and writer. She was born in Australia in 1930 and studied psychology and education at the University of Sydney. Dorothy moved to the UK in 1968, and in 1972 set up and headed the Lincolnshire Department of Clinical Psychology. She is now an emeritus associate of the Royal College of Psychiatrists. Dorothy is the author of 12 books. Her best known, Depression: The Way Out of Your Prison, is now in its third edition. Her latest book, What Should I Believe? was published by Routledge in October 2008.