John Amery Report

John Amery’s Father, Leo Amery, asked for a psychiatric report to be performed on his son. The report is reproduced on this page. The original document is held at the National Archives and has the document reference HO 144/22823.

Any text effects used below are taken from the original document.



on the case of JOHN AMERY.

I am a Doctor of Medicine of Glasgow University, and for the past 25 years have worked as a specialist in psychiatry, psycho-analysis and general medical psychology. I am the author of various text books and research monographs on these subjects. Amongst the psychiatric posts I have held is that of Chairman of the Scientific Committee and Director of the Psychopathic Clinic for the diagnosis and treatment of delinquent and psychopathic cases both juvenile and adult. I have acted as consultant to various Public Schools in cases of psychopathic children and adolescents suffering from disorders of behaviour and/or delinquent conduct. I founded the Psychopathic Clinic in 1932.

I have not been afforded the opportunity of a direct psychiatric examination of John Amery but the investigations I have made so far point conclusively to the following facts:




I base these conclusions on the following evidence.


I have had detailed psychiatric interviews with the following persons:

His Mother, Mrs Florence Amery

His Father, Mr. L.S. Amery

His Brother, Captain Amery

His Wife, Mrs. Una Amery

the Schoolmistress of his Kindergarten school, Miss Irene Ironside

his housemaster at Harrow School, W.H. BARRETT

his 3rd private tutor after leaving Harrow, G.C. NOCK.

I have also studied reports obtained from the following:

the headmaster of his prep. school, K.L.S. TINDALL, West Downs, Winchester

the former headmaster of Harrow School, SIR CYRIL NORWOOD

his 1st private tutor when temporarily removed from Harrow, LANDER JAMESON

the psychiatrist DR. MAURICE WRIGHT to whom he was taken for consultation after being at Harrow

a specialist in venereal disease who treated him, DR. OSMOND

Apart from the interviews with members of his family, all these interviews and reports were obtained independently none of the persons concerned having had any contact with the others.


an authenticated history of complete absence of moral sense, guilt or remorse dating from early childhood and persisting without alteration down to the present time, ie. for 30 of his 33 years of life.

an equally persistent and unchanging negativism of thought and action (ie. an automatic refractoriness to all suggestions and to all authority resulting in conduct entirely opposite to that suggested to him). This negativism has been so strong in his case as to suggest the existence of a psychotic (ie. insane) disturbance of character usually found in schizoid characters or in cases of schizophrenia.

persistent conduct or a bizarre type such as is usually found in psychotic (schizoid) types.

delinquent conduct in childhood, adolescence and adult life, to wit, pilfering, and latter uttering worthless cheques, obtaining goods on false pretences, persistent motoring offences.

persistent pathological lying often of a bizarre type.

abnormal and often perverted sexual behaviour.

outbursts of excitement and violence together with persistent hyperactivity and restlessness.

signs of a childhood neurosis: bedwetting, violent phobias of animals, of being alone and of injury of various kinds which apart from bedwetting persisted into adult life down to the present time.

a persistent tendency to grandiosity of thought and action of a mildly megalomaniac type, together with a marked tendency to exhibitionistic activities, mainly non-sexual but also sexual in type.

a marked form of suspicion leading to ideas of a persecutory type, common in schizoid characters and resulting in the carrying of firearms.

a complete absence of social conscience and total insensitivity to the pain or injury caused to his family and friends by his conduct.

Details of authenticated disordered conduct and symptoms of mental (character) abnormality in chronological order (together with source of information).

Early childhood. In infancy he suffered from screaming fits at night, had frequent tantrums, and between the age of 3-4 had a prolonged attack (4 to 5 months) of bedwetting. The first authenticated observation of his lack of feeling on destroying or breaking things came from his ‘Nanny’ an experienced woman who reported to his Mother as follows: “This is a very bad child: I don’t know quite how to deal with him”. He was then just 2 years of age. By the time he reached the age of 5 both parents were impressed by his unteachability both in physical co-ordination and in mental activity. This is confirmed by his kindergarten headmistress. Her first impression was that he was “an abnormal boy, who always wanted to do the exact opposite of what he was asked to do”. This attitude, she states, was persistent and consistent. He clung determinedly to his own ideas. His conduct was at times bizarre, eg. coming to school with an enormous necklace of highly coloured wooden beads stretching almost to his knees. He bullied other children and though quarrelling frequently with them always ran away when in trouble. He was, she said, “really unteachable” and Miss Ironside felt that if he were subjected to ordinary discipline “it would send him crazy”. She also noticed a tendency to shut himself in and live inside himself.

Later childhood (early school age). About this period his parents noted his secretiveness and tendency to live in the present, his abject physical terror fear of injury and of animals (eg. cows). He complained of a feeling of “tightness” when in crowded rooms (eg. at parties) (a claustrophobic reaction). When his brother Julian was a baby John threw a lighted match into his brother’s pram in order to set fire to it. At his preparatory school he immediately caused anxiety. “Ideas of right and wrong” says his then Headmaster, Mr Tindell, “seemed to mean nothing to him”. He had no sense of feeling or remorse. His had behaviour there was usual in the sense that “it seemed entirely purposeless”. “He had no code of morals at all but would follow the whim of the moment without any thought of where it was going to lead or what trouble it was likely to cause himself or others.”

Later School Age. At Harrow he resented discipline and scoffed at the current conventions. He stole from shops and from other boys, absconded at nights to visit a night club and to tout for night club clients. “Of all the boys whom I have known”, says Sir Cyril Norwood, his then headmaster “John Amery was the most abnormal”. He continues: “Just because John Amery was morally imbecile it was not possible to make anything of him at Harrow”. He was impervious to appeals, felt no shame and would not try to learn. Sir Cyril Norwood observes later that he had “A proneness to fear which dominated his mind so entirely that he could neither control nor cut it out”. Later he attempted to run away to France to become a garage hand and was subsequently kept for some terms from school and put under a private tutor. Mr Lander Jameson also observed his “moral imbecility”. He was moody, introspective, friendliness, dirty, slovenly and unresponsive. “His lack of physical courage” says Mr Jameson “was abnormal”. He went into rages on being disciplined and once attacked Mr Jameson with a long knife; on another occasion after being prevented from smoking he went to a policeman to charge Mr Jameson with indecent assault. He was violently abusive if obstructed, used foul language, on occasions would get tipsy in a public house. He stole from a hotel when in Norway but had no sense of guilt treating the incident as a joke. He had no sense of the consequences of his actions. About this time or a little earlier, he was taken to a psychiatrist, Dr Maurice Wright, who found that he had no moral sense of right or wrong and regarded his condition as incurable. He had no sense of remorse or shame. Returning to Harrow he again ran away on being faced with a beating for slackness. His Housemaster at that time Mr. W.H. Barrett reports that he was “an extremely unusual type with obvious psychological difficulties and lack of mental balance”, up against authority and that he “didn’t appear to be able to help this even when he tried”. If reproved he would “fly up in the air” and get into states of excitement. “In all my experience” says Mr Barrett “I never had to deal with anyone just like him.” After running away from Harrow he was put with a second tutor and subsequently sent to a Swiss School from which he was shortly afterwards expelled as a bad influence. He was then put to a third tutor, Mr. Nock, who also was struck by his entire lack of any moral feeling. “He had”, says Mr. Nock, “no sense of obligation to anyone or anything” and “not even a gangster code”. He was accustomed to do queer things such as insisting on climbing the Jungfrau in his bedroom slippers. He used to complain that his Father was a fool not to be dishonest and make money out of his position. “His character” Mr Nock continues “was one complete flaw. He had a superficial charm but no affection.

Late adolescence and after. This period was punctuated by recurrent crisis mostly of a delinquent type eg. passing worthless cheques, borrowing large sums which he could not pay back, starting wild-cat schemes sometimes of an illicit nature. He had “a complete inability” says his Father “to envisage in inevitable consequences, so long as he could starve off trouble at the moment and equally complete absence of regret when found out”. These are well known stigmata of the ‘Pathological delinquent’. Incidentally he had 82 convictions for car offences. Having been arrested for securing £850 of jewellery on a worthless cheque, his Father was advised by a French Solicitor to enter a plea of mental deficiency. In 1934 he went bankrupt for £6,000.

Sexual Abnormalities. Apart from an early phase of masturbation at age of 5, his first sexual peculiarity was shown at the age of 5-6, when he was in the habit of making obscene drawings of women with breasts. To this he was accustomed to add a male organ leaving the drawings to be seen by his French Governess. He had an early puberty and was soon actively engaged in efforts of seduction. He first seduced a Dutch girl at the age of 14 and by 17 had contacted venereal disease. Incidentally the specialist who treated him, Dr Osmond, has put on record that John Amery was “sub-normal”. Dr Osmond says “I am quite convinced that he had no sense of right or wrong”. Further Mr. Nock testifies to the fact that already by this time he had shown signs of sexual perversion, having had homosexual relations which he openly boasted were done for money. And there is reliable evidence from his wife that from time to time he practised homosexuality until they lived apart. The story of his marriage and the lies he told on getting engaged is recorded elsewhere. His heterosexual life was partly normal, partly perverted and partly governed by the need for peculiar situations. In his later married life his wife found that he practised masochism with some of the many prostitutes and mistresses with whom he consorted during marriage. He was beaten by them and there is some question of his having had perverse ‘tying-up’ practices. He had a compulsive interest in prostitutes, wanted always to give the impression that his wife was his mistress and that he was kept by women who had made a fortune by blackmailing In short he was a typical case of psychopathia Sexualis a condition almost always present in severe psychopaths.

Other private peculiarities of conduct. During her marital association his wife had unusual opportunities of observing a number of peculiarities and bizarre forms of conduct. He was dirty and slovenly in habit varying this with loud and unconventional dressing. He would go to sleep for days on end only waking up to eat or perform his functions. He could go to sleep walking from his bedroom to the bathroom. He had an intense fear of being alone and also of being attacked although he could never say by whom. He also had an irresistible fear of personnel contact and a phobia of sitting with his back to a door. For these and other reasons he carried a revolver and occasionally used it eg. to break the wind screen of a car belonging to a motorist who had obstructed him. He would go into white rages when he would knock his wife about, on one occasion because at a cocktail bar she had let slip that she was his wife. He had an intense dread of being without money, and most of his fantasies and plans about money making were of a kind which if put into effect would have constituted criminal conspiracies. He had a compulsion when at a cinema to buy an extra seat for his overcoat and would leave any hotel or restaurant where he was requested to put it in the cloakroom. He carried with him a Teddy Bear mascot which he also put in a chair, proceeding to buy it drinks and comic newspapers. He also had an abnormal interest in dogs.

Psychiatric Conclusions

John Amery has exhibited throughout his life all the symptoms of psychopathy of a type which borders on the schizoid (psychotic) character and which under ordinary circumstances ends in compulsive delinquent and anti-social conduct. But for the fact that his family stood in time and again to cover his defalcations and but for the fact that he was drawn into the vortex of political events bigger than himself he would have become a juvenile and adolescent delinquent and have been dealt with at a magistrates court early in his life. Indeed if he had been brought to a London Magistrate’s Court within the last 15 years he would have been sent to a Delinquency Clinic for psychological examination and treatment. Not having seen him I can’t say whether he is now sane or insane in the sense of forensic psychiatry but he is, according to his history, sufficiently pre-psychotic (ie. insane borderline) to make it probable that if left untreated he would have a psychotic breakdown about the age of 40. The whole picture is completely characteristic of severe psychiapathy negativism, unteachability, fear of attack of a paranoid type, anti-social behaviour, delinquency, lack of moral feeling and conscience, sexual abnormality. And so on. No element is missing. On the matter of his present demeanour: I don’t know whether he behaves apparently normally or not, but it is notorious that types of this kind will keep up a facade of normal behaviour in keeping with some diseased or apparently romantic conception of themselves. Simulation is a well known schizoid characteristic. No formal psychiatric examination could conclusively eliminate this element of simulation unless it were supported by a period of three months continuous observation in a psychiatric ward. And if he had been an ordinary delinquent this observation would have been carried out.

Although, as I have pointed out, I have not been afforded the opportunity of a direct psychiatric examination I maintain that there is no psychiatrist in this or any other country who would not, on hearing this medical history, agree that John Amery is an outstanding case of mental disorder.