Robin Skynner

Robin Skynner

Royal Air Force pilot, psychotherapist and pioneer in the treatment of mental illness
Date of Birth: 16.08.1922
Country: Great Britain

Biography of Robin Skinner

Robin Skinner, a pilot in the Royal Air Force, a psychotherapist, and an innovator in the treatment of mental disorders, gained worldwide recognition for his unusual collaboration with comedian John Cleese and their bestselling books on family and survival. Born on August 16, 1922, in Charlestown, Cornwall, Skinner came from a family involved in mining and supplying white porcelain clay. His mother's side of the family descended from local fishermen.

Skinner's childhood was marked by hardships, as he was the eldest of five sons and resented the arrival of new siblings. This led to him becoming a troubled teenager with a severe stuttering problem. At one point, Skinner spent a day on the roof of his father's house, smashing tiles with a hammer.

Upon reaching adulthood, Skinner voluntarily joined the Royal Air Force of Great Britain and flew as a bomber during World War II. Reflecting on his military experience, he referred to it as a "mysterious madness," describing the killing of people on such a large scale. It was during this time that Skinner developed an understanding of the trust between a pilot and navigator, which instilled hope that solutions to global problems could be found.

After the war, Skinner completed his medical degree at the University College London and became a child psychiatrist at Maudsley Hospital. During his student years, he was influenced by S.H. Foulkes, a German psychoanalyst who developed the model of group therapy for treating war neuroses. Skinner became passionate about group analytic therapy, which relied on the resources of the group itself to solve individual problems.

In 1959, Skinner and a group working with Foulkes established the "Group Analytic Practice," an open association that attracted individuals from diverse disciplines. The institute founded by Skinner, the "Institute of Group Analysis," remains the leading training center for group therapy in the UK to this day.

Skinner held various positions in the field of psychiatry, including being the head of the Department of Psychiatry at Queen Elizabeth Hospital for Children from 1965 to 1970. In 1971, he became a senior lecturer in the Department of Psychotherapy at the Institute of Psychiatry and an honorary consultant at Maudsley Hospital.

In 1977, Skinner founded the "Institute of Family Therapy" and served as its chairman for the next two years. He believed that families possessed immense creative potential, but a disordered family had equal potential for terrible destruction.

In addition to the two books co-authored with John Cleese, Skinner published "One Flesh, Separate Persons" in 1976, "Explorations with Families" in 1987, and "Institutes and How to Survive Them" in 1989.

Skinner was married twice. His first marriage to Geraldine Foley lasted from 1948 to 1959. In 1959, he remarried Prudence Fawcett, who passed away in 1987. From his second marriage, Skinner had a son and a daughter. In his later years, he spent a considerable amount of time at his cottage in Wales with his colleague, Josh Partridge.