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Isabella McDougall Frankau (died May 1967), née Robertson, was a British psychiatrist who specialised in alcohol and drug addiction.

Some commentators have described her as a London-based "society doctor",[1] credited with single-handedly transforming British drug policy from considering drug addiction as an illness, to be treated, to one of considering addicts as criminals, to be punished.[2]

After the death of her first husband Gordon Cunningham she married the eminent surgeon Claude Frankau (1883–1967) in 1935.[3][4] When her husband was knighted in the 1945 New Years Honours[5] Isabella Frankau became known as "Lady Frankau" in accordance with accepted usage.[6]

As Dr Isabella Robertson, she was one of the first researchers at the Maudsley Hospital, initially working with Frederick Mott and Frederick Golla on the physical basis of psychoses.[7][8][9][10] During World War II she worked at Cambridge University's Psychological Laboratory on the use of dietary supplements to improve the physical performance of servicemen.[11] In the early 1950s she researched the use of subconvulsive electroshock therapy treatment for alcoholism.[12][13]


  1. Pop & Jazz: As though he had wings Independent
  2. Drugs policy: The 'British system' BBC News
  3. Anonymous (1967-07-08). "Sir Claude Frankau (Obituary notice)". British Medical Journal 3 (5557): 116. Template:PMC
  4. "FRANKAU, Sir Claude (Howard Stanley)". Who Was Who. A & C Black. Retrieved 2010-08-22.
  5. Supplement, January 1, 1945. The London Gazette. December 29, 1944. p. 2.
  6. "Forms of Address – Wife of a Knight". Debrett's. Retrieved 2010-08-23.
  7. Frederick W. Mott and Isabella McDougall Robertson (July 1923). "Histological Examination of the Pituitary Gland in 110 Asylum and Hospital Cases". BJPsych 69 (286).
  8. Edward Mapother (1926-Nov-13). "Proceedings of the BMA Annual Meeting 1926 - Discussion on Manic-Depressive Psychosis". British Medical Journal 2 (3436): 874. Template:PMC
  9. Michael Shepherd (1993). "Interview with Sir Aubrey Lewis" (PDF). Psychiatric Bulletin (The Royal College of Psychiatrists) 17: 743. In the transcription Sir Aubrey apparently refers to "the future Lady Frankau" as "Camilla Robertson" rather than "Isabella"
  10. Edgar Jones and Shahina Rahman (July 2009). "The Maudsley Hospital and the Rockefeller Foundation: The Impact of Philanthropy on Research and Training" (PDF). J Hist Med Allied Sci. 3 (64): 273–299. doi:10.1093/jhmas/jrn065.
  11. I. M. Frankau (November 13, 1943). "Acceleration of Co-ordinated Muscular Effort by Nicotinamide". British Medical Journal 2 (4323): 601–603. PMC 2285375. PMID 20785121.
  12. E. Lincoln Williams (December 1954). "The Management of the Chronic Alcoholic". Postgrad Med J 30: 624. doi:10.1136/pgmj.30.350.626.
  13. "Medical news - Societies and lectures". British Medical Journal 1 (4854): 166. January 16, 1954.

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