John Egerton “Jock” Caughey was born in Auckland, the son of Andrew Clarke Caughey, a businessman (draper) and Lucy Hannah (née Rainger) and the youngest of a family of six. He was educated at the Kings School, Auckland where he played in the First XV and First XI and he became Head Boy of the School. He proceeded to the Otago University Medical School graduating in 1929.
After a year as a resident at Auckland Hospital he travelled to England where he worked at the Brompton Chest Hospital and then in 1932 as a resident at the National Hospital for Nervous Diseases at Queen Square. Two other Australasians on the staff were Dr Derek Denny Brown and Dr Graeme Robertson (qv 1).
The house staff at that time had the privilege of working under that distinguished group of physicians who perfected the definition of the clinical entities which are the foundations of modem neurology. With the leadership of Gordon Holmes, the methodology of the scientific examination of the nervous system was perfected there, whilst most of the clinicians, such as James Collier, Kinnear Wilson, Adie and many others, had in their own youth worked in association with Hughlings Jackson and Gowers. By the time a house physician came to leave the hospital he was imbued with an enthusiasm for the subject and a wealth of experience, which was to contribute to the development of neurology in North America and Australasia.
After exposure to psychiatric disorders at the Maudsley Hospital, Dr Caughey returned through the United States to New Zealand, stopping for a brief period of time in Boston.
On his return to New Zealand he received an appointment as a visiting physician at the Auckland Hospital and set up in the town as a private consultant.
It was not long before the Second World War commenced and in 1940 he enlisted and was soon to go overseas with the 2 NZEF. He served for a period of time in Cairo and as Officer Commanding the Medical Division 2 NZGH and finally Officer Commanding 3 NZGH. At the end of the War he had served for 5½ years in the Armed Forces, being mentioned in dispatches.
On demobilisation he returned to work as a senior physician in Auckland Hospital. In 1950 he moved to Dunedin to take up the position of Associate Professor of Medicine at the Medical School. It was he who introduced clinical neurology to the curriculum. It was an important event in the history of the Medical Faculty; prior to that time students might have graduated without any instruction in the procedures involved in the assessment of a patient with a neurological problem.
With a tall commanding presence, almost diffident in manner he was instinctively a leader, always a good listener and interested in the students to whom he was readily accessible.
Dr Caughey contributed a paper on cataract in dystrophia myotonia in 1933 (Trans Ophthal Soc UK 1933 53 60) and an interest in that disease was maintained for many years. An interesting contribution to medical philately arose from his recognition of the facies of a patient with this disorder in a postage stamp commemorating Prince Ypsilante, a Greek hero; Dr Caughey recognised the likeness to a patient of his and was able to define the passage of the disease through the generations.
Later he was to contribute with Myrianthopoulos a monograph on this complaint (Caughey JE and Myrianthopoulos NC Dystrophia myotonica and related diseases. Springfield, Thomas, 1963). During the war he witnessed poliomyelitis among the troops and wrote extensively on this subject in subsequent years. In Dunedin he became increasingly involved in endocrinology, probably attracted into that area by endocrine studies in dystrophia; and the consequences of tumours and postpartum necrosis of the pituitary gland. He published more than 80 clinical papers.
His family background had emphasised the importance of social obligations and the need to demonstrate a commitment to moral and ethical issues. It was in Boston in the 1930s that he saw the neurological consequences of alcoholism and he was also aware of the social and personal consequences. In Auckland he was associated with Alcoholics Anonymous and in Dunedin he was one of the co-founders of the National Society for Alcoholism. He made a bequest of money to the RACP for the Foundation of a Lectureship on Drug Abuse to be held at the annual meetings and an endowment to Auckland University for a Lectureship on the subject of Drug Abuse.
Towards the end of the 1950s the University in Dunedin was experiencing a resurgence of interest in the moral rearmament movement. He became almost inevitably involved and chose to resign from the Otago Medical School in 1962 to join a moral rearmament team, which was to travel through South East Asia and India.
At the end of the mission a new era in his life began, this time in the Middle East where he took up the position of Professor of Medicine at the Mosul College at the University of Baghdad where he remained until 1965. There followed a term as Professor of Medicine in the Pahlavi University of Shiraz in Iran and finally a two-year stint as Chief Physician at the National Iranian Oil Company at Abadan. During these years he undertook research into goitre, malnutrition and other public health issues.
Eventually retiring from the Middle East in 1978 he took up a position in the Southland Hospital at Invercargill as physician and a teacher of medical students. It was only in his 80’s that he eventually retired taking up residence in his home at Lake Wanaka where he enjoyed the peaceful life of the Otago Lakes and the occasional opportunity to fish for trout. He enjoyed the companionship of visitors who often diverted to see him. Even in his 90’s he exhibited a youthfulness and lively interest in the world around him until a fall culminating in a fractured leg and admission to hospital.
He married Dora Jouhin, daughter of a clergyman. They had six children; Dr David Caughey, FRACP, a rheumatologist in Auckland, Patricia Peterson of Dunedin, John of Wanaka, Sarah Smale of Nelson, Helen Milne of Wellington and Mary Colville of Idaho.
Jock Caughey’s life was a remarkable one in which his desire for achievement of excellence resulted in a fruitful career in neurology, significant contributions to endocrinology and to the inspiration of future generations of doctors. Perhaps the source of greatest personal satisfaction would have been his decision to make a commitment to the problem of combating the evils of alcohol and drug abuse and the involvement raised by the ethical and social issues associated with his involvement with moral rearmament.
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