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Rick Stein

Rick Stein - How we did it

Manic Depression

Rick's father, Eric Stein
Rick's father, Eric Stein

After many years of suffering from depression, Rick's father Eric Stein tragically took his own life. Rick was just a young man at the time, and his mother had hidden much of Eric's illness from him, so he was keen to find out more about the causes of his father's depression.

Father: Eric Stein

Step 1

Rick arranged to meet family members: his brother John and sister Henrietta, to discuss their memories.

They knew that Eric had won a place at Oxford University to study medicine, but that his father’s death meant he was forced to join the family business instead. They also remembered their mother saying that when Eric was a young child during the First World War he suffered prejudice because of his German name.

Step 2

Rick wanted to find out more about the persecution that the young Eric might have endured because of his German heritage.

He searched newspapers for evidence of anti-German attitudes during the First World War. He discovered that following the sinking of the Lusitania by a German submarine in 1915, there were widespread riots. Many British businesses with German names were attacked and the government introduced measures to restrict Germans living in Britain.

Step 3

In prosperous Walton-on-Thames, where Eric grew up, Rick met a local local expert who showed him a local newspaper article from 1915. Even in such a suburban area, the article described public antagonism towards a local businessman with a German name. Huge crowds had gathered and hurled missiles at his shop. Rick imagined that such events would have had a significant impact on the young Eric.

Step 4

Rick wanted to discover more about his father's behaviour and mental state as an adult, and set out to find eyewitness accounts. He met one of Eric's former employees, David Prager. Rick also met the family's former housekeeper, Joyce Watson. She told Rick that his mother Dorrie knew that Eric wanted to end his life. Dorrie constantly checked whether tablets or knives had been left lying around. Joyce also mentioned electric shock treatment that Eric had received in London.

Step 5

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Dr Turner describes modern perspectives on manic depression

Rick headed for Barts Hospital in London to meet a psychiatrist, Dr Turner, who is also a specialist expert on treatments available for manic depression in the 1950s and 1960s.

Rick learned that, aside from psychotherapy, which was successful in fewer than 25 percent of cases, electro-convulsive therapy (ECT) was the dominant treatment. Dr Turner said that ECT could be, and still is, extremely effective, but that more modern medicines like mood stabilisers might have helped to rid Eric of the more severe depressive phases that led to his suicide.

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