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Last Updated: Tuesday, 30 October 2007, 10:03 GMT
Psychiatrist Anthony Clare dies
Professor Anthony Clare
Professor Clare brought psychiatry to millions

The psychiatrist and broadcaster Professor Anthony Clare has died suddenly at the age of 64.

Professor Clare had been due to retire from St Edmundsbury hospital in Lucan in County Dublin in two months' time.

He became known to millions through his BBC Radio 4 show, In the Psychiatrist's Chair, and his extensive media work.

He also wrote several popular books on psychiatry, and was professor of clinical psychiatry at Trinity College Dublin.

Problem solver

Hailed as having done as much to popularise psychiatry as anyone since Sigmund Freud, Professor Clare came to public prominence on Radio 4's Stop the Week programme in the 1970s.

I can't really believe in a god that can suddenly and haphazardly intervene during one moment of history, causing air crashes, genocide and famine
Anthony Clare

He hosted a feature on the show in which he interviewed various high-achievers about their past.

Eventually, one of his patients complained that he seemed to focus too much on people without any significant problems.

Professor Clare responded by launching the long-running In the Psychiatrist's Chair in 1982.

High-profile guests were frequently reduced to tears: Bob Monkhouse broke down after saying his mother had not spoken to him for 20 years, while Paddy Ashdown became similarly emotional over his father's death.

Professor Clare also helped explore the dark side of Spike Milligan's life in the book Depression and How to Survive It, which was co-written with the comedian.

Losing faith

Educated by the Jesuits, Professor Clare lost his Catholic faith as a young man - which he put down in part to his medical training.

"I can't really believe in a god that can suddenly and haphazardly intervene during one moment of history, causing air crashes, genocide and famine," he once told an Irish newspaper.

"I do miss the theatricality of the Catholic Church, however."

He married Jane Hogan in 1966, and the pair went on to have seven children together.

In the late 1980s, the family returned to Dublin.

The head of Radio 4, Mark Damazer, paid tribute to the "unique interviewing style" of a "terrific broadcaster".

"He was perceptive, unafraid and yet courteous. It was a potent mix."

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