Born: January 17, 1919; Died: July 25, 2013.
Dr Norman Taylor, who has died aged 94, was an intriguing mix of medic, psychiatrist, artist and poet.
Encouraged by his father to become a doctor, he sidelined his creative talents to concentrate on a career in medicine. but the urge to paint and write continued to surface from time to time down the years.
The catalyst for some of his most perceptive writing was his experience of the Second World War but it would be almost another 70 years before he became a published poet, with his anthology Poems of Wartime Years finally appearing in print when he was 88.
By then he had fought disease in the Burmese jungles, treated German prisoners of war from the Russian front, helped countless NHS patients at Edinburgh Royal Hospital and scores more through the Scottish Institute of Human Relations as well as lecturing students and training other professionals involved in counselling work.
He specialised in psychotherapy for individuals, couples and groups and developed a particular interest in marital work with couples. He also gained a reputation as a warm and generous man and a dedicated professional who refused to give up on some of the most difficult cases, persisting - in one case for more than 20 years - and succeeding where others would have given up.
Born in Armadale, he was named Willliam after his father, chief accountant for the General Post Office in Scotland, but was always known as Norman. Educated at Daniel Stewart's College, his real interests lay in the arts and literature, but his father wanted him to become a doctor and he acquiesced, going to Edinburgh University in the late 1930s to study medicine.
A student when the Second World War broke out, he was called up after qualifying and served with an infantry battalion in coastal defence on the Isle of Wight before being posted to a West African division, accompanying them into the jungles of Burma as part of South East Asia Command.
There the fight was not only against the Japanese but a range of diseases - malaria, dysentery, sandfly fever - plus parasitic swamp leeches.
However, at one point, on his way through the Suez Canal, he found time to paint, producing two striking water colours of the waterway which were later rediscovered and put on display at his funeral.
After Burma he helped to ship the African soldiers home to the Gold Coast, now Ghana, and then spent several months at a prisoner of war camp in Lanarkshire as medical officer for German soldiers. Many of them had served in Russia and suffered appalling frostbite, losing not only fingers or toes but whole limbs.
Many years later he acknowledged, in his book of poems: "It was disconcerting to be back in civilian life. Peace was full of unease and hardly seemed peaceful. The effect of the war on social life, and upon my reaction to it, was disturbing.
"Our culture had changed and I felt not for the better, I was uneasy and thinking moreover of the international unrest and subsequent wars. I wondered what it was all leading to. I still wonder."
After demobilisation in September 1946 he decided to specialise in psychiatry. The National Health Service had yet to be established and he obtained a job, through a hospital board, as a trainee psychiatrist. He worked at the Jordanburn Nerve Hospital and Psychological Institute, where he studied for his diploma in psychological medicine during night shifts.
The institute was part of the Royal Edinburgh Hospital, where he would spend the next 30-odd years, the majority of that time in the NHS following its creation in 1948.
During his career there he met Anna Freud, youngest daughter of psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud, who had followed her father into the profession, and among Dr Taylor's own artwork was a charcoal portrait of Freud that hung in the Taylor family home.
Whilst at the Royal Edinburgh he also lectured at Edinburgh University, helping to train junior psychiatrists, nurses, social workers and other professionals who had a counselling role, and for many years was attached to Edinburgh University Student Counselling Service.
In addition, he supervised counsellors on the Edinburgh Marriage Guidance Council, later the Lothian Marriage Guidance Counselling Service, and served as its chairman for three years.
After retiring from the NHS at the age of 65 he worked as a private psychotherapist at the Scottish Institute for Human Relations and continued to supervise counsellors.
Outside his working life he had a wide variety of interests including writing, painting in oils and watercolours, Chinese and Japanese calligraphy and learning a new language whenever the opportunity presented itself.
He married his Hebridean-born wife Isobel in 1943 and took up her native Gaelic. When he had a Japanese interpreter he learned some Japanese and when he had an Italian patient he tried to learn Italian. He also had a good knowledge of French and had acquired enough Russian and Czechoslovakian during the war to attempt his own translation of a Pushkin poem and sing the Czech national anthem.
He took up rock and ice climbing in his fifties, becoming one of the early members of Edinburgh's Jacobite Mountaineering Club, and for the past decade he had been involved in editing a number of books. The last one he worked on, Infants and children: An introduction to emotional development, focused on subject matter close to his heart and is due for publication next month.
The author is his friend Mirabelle Maslin, and it was she who finally persuaded him to share his poetry with a wider audience. Published in 2007 and though not war poems in the traditional sense, Poems of Wartime Years are a view from the periphery, he said, a reflection on the past, looking back on the Second World War and other wars. In his own words, they bear the stamp of futility, cynicism, sadness but also a "flicker of hope".
Dr Taylor, who was widowed more than 50 years ago, is survived by his son Iain and daughter Deirdre.
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