Stuart Twemlow’s Ground-Breaking Contributions to Psychiatry

Whanganui-born psychiatrist Dr Stuart Twemlow (Ngāti Patupo, Ngāti Te Wehi) wrote over 200 publications on a wide variety of fields including school violence, workplace harassment, terrorism and cult dynamics. Twemlow lectured internationally on the physical and psychological aspects of violence. This obituary is taken in part from that published online by Bowser Johnson Funeral Chapel in Kansas, where Twemlow lived for many years.

Twemlow, who died in Christchurch on 1 May, 2022 aged 81, graduated from the University of New Zealand in 1960 with a BSc in Microbiology, Biochemistry, and Chemistry, followed by a medical degree from the same university, now called Otago University, in medicine.

He and his family immigrated to the United States in 1970 for his psychiatric residency at the Karl Menninger School of Psychiatry in Topeka, Kansas, where he completed his residency and was later board certified in general psychiatry. He had a private psychoanalytic and psychiatric practice, with a special interest in problems in organisations and social systems, for more than 30 years.

He was appointed by President Bill Clinton to serve on the Academic Advisory Council of the United States Presidential Campaign Against Youth Violence. He consulted with Michael Manley, Prime Minister of Jamaica on problems of peace and violence; with representatives of the Australian, Hungarian, and Finnish governments on school bullying and violence; with the FBI on threat assessment and school violence in the US; and with the government of Paraguay on violence in communities. He worked with several cities and city departments mediating labour disputes, consulting on workplace climate, school climate, and threat assessment. He completed successful projects to reduce violence and improve the quality of life in the US and Jamaica, creating similar programs implemented in several cities in the US and Australia.

He also practiced meditation and martial arts for over 50 years, achieving the level of Renshi – “polished” teacher – and an advanced Black Belt (6th Dan) in Hawaiian and Okinawan Kenpo karate and 7th Dan in the Okinawan Weapons (Kobudo) systems.

Twemlow dedicated much of the later part of his career to research on school bullying, which he considered a root cause of school violence, a position considered radical when he introduced it and one that remains, sadly, underreported as a main factor in the world we live in, in which school shootings are no longer shocking, but a part of everyday life.

Original obituary from Bowser Johnson Funeral Chapel, May 1, 2022.

Tags: psychiatry  school bullying  Stuart Twemlow  violence  

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