Václav PINKAVA. M Phil. Ph D. Prague. A F B Ps S. Chartered Psychologist. Honarary Research Fellow at King's College, London, Retired Head of Psychology at Severalls Hospital, Colchester.

Václav Pinkava died following a brief and tragic illness on 13.8.1995 at Essex County Hospital, Colchester.

Colchester became his home town after he moved to Britain with his wife Eva and four children, following the Russian invasion of his native country, Czechoslovakia, in 1968.

He was born in Prague on 9th December 1926 to a wholesale merchant and manufacturer of Bohemian crystal glass. His mother's ancestors were descended from Italian nobility. He was a very intelligent and gifted child and his many talents shone through from his early childhood. As a teenager, during the second world war, he protested against the German occupation of Czechoslovakia by showing his manifest dislike of the compulsory German language teaching. Consequently he was expelled from Grammar School. After the Germans were expelled from the country, he completed his Grammar School studies in 1947 and was admitted to the Faculty of Philosophy of the prestigious Charles University of Prague. Following the Communist coup of February 1948, he was arrested and falsely accused of preparing an armed uprising against the communist rulers. He was acquitted despite repeated Prosecution appeals and thus narrowly escaped the mandatory death penalty. Nevertheless during the political screening of students, he was expelled from the university. After a brief period of becoming a labourer, being "politically unreliable", he had to serve his two years compulsory military service as a private. Eventually, with the help of one of his father's ex-employees who had risen to some eminence within the communist regime, and who remembered former kindnesses shown by his old employer, he was readmitted to the University and graduated in Psychology in 1954. By that time his father's property had been confiscated and his mother was dying of cancer.

After graduating he worked in a Department for sexual deviations at the Psychiatric Teaching Hospital of Charles University. At that time he applied his knowledge of mathematical logic, one of his hobbies, and published many articles on the application of this scientific approach to abnormal psychology. He developed a plausible mathematical theory of sexual deviation in object, suggesting that this was caused by abnormal development and function of neuron nets in the brain. Many years later this theory was to be supported by research throughout the world, a fact which gave him much professional satisfaction.

Later on he was invited to become a clinical psychologist in the Psychiatric Teaching Unit of Charles University and was greatly admired for his clinical skill and diagnostic judgement. Because of his theoretical knowledge and ability, despite his "wrong" political background, he became a member of the University Psychiatric Research Unit. It was made clear to him that if he wished to advance his career and possibly become a Reader, he would need to join the Communist Party. Being an honest man he flatly refused.

At the dawn of Dubcek's Prague Spring he was at last allowed to defend his Ph D thesis, written many years before, and he also published his first scientific book on systems modelling. After the Soviet invasion he fled to the West and his book was removed from circulation for political reasons. He settled with his family in Colchester. Encouraged by the then Superintendent of Severalls Hospital he stayed at Severalls and built up a Psychology Department of which he became Head until his retirement in 1982.

He continued to publish books and articles on the systems approach to psychopathology, many-valued logics, self reference, logical paradoxes, theory of automata and applications of computers in clinical fields. He developed a theory of schizophrenic thought impairment based on a logical theory of concept classification. He also discovered a class of logic algebras which was named after him Pinkava Logics. On at least one occasion he was Britain's sole representative at an international conference on multivalued logics. Requests for copies of his learned articles poured into Severalls from all over the world thus putting Colchester's Severalls Hospital on the scientific map. For his knowledge in the field he was asked to contribute to a book Variant Sexuality, edited by Glenn D Wilson. Such was his modesty that few of his immediate colleagues were aware of the full extent of his scientific achievements.

He always had the well-being of his patients at heart and in the early eighties he became an ardent opponent of the fashionable and ill-advised NHS policy of massive closure of psychiatric wards throughout the country. He believed strongly that this could only jeopardise patient care and possibly result in members of the wider community being placed at risk.

After retirement he devoted himself to what was to become his main vocation, and became a writer and published more than a dozen books of novels and poems under his pen-name of Jan Kresadlo. Already, in the opinion of literary critics, he has become a classic writer of Czech literature. And in "World Literature Today" he was marked as "Perhaps the most significant discovery" of his publishers. His award-winning first novel "Mrchopevci". (Stiffsingers) has been translated into English and awaits an interested publisher. His magnum opus "Astronautilia", a sci-fi Homeric Greek epic of a journey through space, of over 6500 verses, with parallel Czech translation in hexameters, will be published this year in Prague. His combination of linguistic ability and poetic talent enabled him to produce an excellent translation of the Nobel Prize Laureate Jaroslav Seifert's poems. He has also published poems in English.

Dr Pinkava was a man of many talents, as philosopher, psychologist, mathematician, poet, novelist, musician, artist, linguist: a true 'renaissance man'.

You can find out more about the author of Astronautilia
direct from myself at pinkava@mite.net.

21st January 1996