By Mark Ryan The unusual case of Arthur T. Myers, tennis player and doctor Part I of II Arthur Thomas Myers, not to be confused with Arthur Wallis Myers (no relation), was not a great tennis player although he did make it to the quarter-final at Wimbledon on his debut there in 1878. This was just the second edition of the Wimbledon tournament and the men’s singles event, essentially the only event at that time, had a draw of just 32 players. Arthur T. Myers won two matches before falling to the eventual champion, Patrick Francis Hadow. Myers returned to the All England Club the following year, but did not make it past the third round in what was his second and last attempt at the title. Although in those days there were only a few tournaments for players to compete in, it is likely that Arthur T. Myers deliberately cut short his competitive career due to his unstable health (he might also wanted to have devote more time to his medical studies). He was prone to epileptic seizures at a time when epilepsy was certainly known about, but far from being fully understood. This is somewhat ironic given the career path Myers chose for himself and it is clear that, once he had qualified as a doctor, his illness also prevented him from practising medicine to the best of his ability. Myers’ obituary, reproduced below and carried in the “British Medical Journal” on 27 January 1894, provides an insightful overview of his short life while skirting the exact name and nature of his illness and how it affected him: “Arthur Thomas Myers, M.A., M.D. Cantab., F.R.C.P. “Arthur Thomas Myers, whose death we notice with great regret at the early age of 42, was born in 1851 [on 16 April] at Keswick, [Cumberland, England], his father [Reverend Frederic Myers] being incumbent of St. John’s Church in that town. He was educated at Cheltenham and Trinity College, Cambridge. A scholar of Trinity, he finished his university career by taking a first class in the Classical Tripos and a second in the Natural Science Tripos. He obtained his Doctor of Medicine degree in 1881, and was made a Fellow of the College of Physicians in 1893. At St. George’s Hospital the late Dr. Myers had a meritorious and distinguished career. He filled the office of house-physician and was registrar in the medical wards for several years. He fulfilled the laborious duties of the latter post with singular patience, minuteness and fidelity, and invented a system of indexing which has since proved of great value. “He was a member of the various Medical Societies, and physician to the Belgrave Hospital for Children [in London]. He wrote in the leading journals and contributed various papers of interest, among which may be mentioned the Nervous Sequelae of Small-pox and a Case of Raynaud’s Disease. His studies were of late years particularly directed towards abstruse problems connected with nerve disease and the subject of hypnotism as a treatment for disease – studies perhaps not the best suited for his own mental and bodily health. “Dr. Myers was a distinguished athlete. At Cheltenham he was in the [cricket] eleven and played in the public school racket matches. At Cambridge he was captain of the Trinity eleven and played in the tennis match against Oxford. Nature had, indeed, worthily designed him as one of those ‘all round men’ who are the glory of our public school education: but destiny thought fit to inflict upon him that terrible and inscrutable nervous malady which advanced with relentless tread, baffling the most devoted medical skill, and ultimately involving a fine intellect in ruin and confusion. There can be no doubt but for this Myers would have obtained the highest medical distinction. “His misfortune prevented his attaining to a post in medical staff of a teaching hospital, and this sad disappointment, intolerable to most men, was borne by him with singular patience. Even those who had the privilege of knowing him intimately never heard him repine, and in the intervals of illness he devoted himself energetically to his studies and to various athletic pursuits. After leaving the universities he was indeed known as an enthusiastic climber and skater, no mean cricketer and an adept at tennis. “He had much subtlety and delicacy of intellect, and belonged to a family of intellectual distinction and literary culture; his bent was largely towards psychological study and the investigation and discussion of the more recondite phenomena of mind. By family relations as well as by personal study, he was much interested in some of the problems which the ‘psychic researchers’ aspire to solve. But his medical training led him to distrust many of their conclusions. To his sympathetic yet cautious pen are due some of the articles on these topics and incidents which have from time to time appeared in our columns. He was particularly happy as a reviewer, and in that capacity we were often indebted to his just, kindly and suggestive work. “He was a devoted son, and in private life he was of a singularly kind and amiable disposition, given much to acts of hospitality and goodness to others. The slight brusqueness of his address, sometimes remarked by his juniors, was largely due to his infirmity, and he is mourned at the University and St. George’s by a large circle of friends. His history is tinged with a touch of melancholy, yet we can reflect that he has not lived in vain, for he has shown us the example of a brave man struggling against an unhappy fate, and there are many with all the advantages of intellect and physical health who have done less good work in the world than Arthur Myers.” It is thought that Myers committed suicide after his illness became intolerable to him. Before his death he had provided the following verbatim account of his condition, which can be read on the website http://www.szondiforum.org: “I first noticed symptoms which I subsequently learnt to describe as petit mal [‘absence seizures’] when living at one of our universities in 1871. I was in very good general health, and knew of no temporary disturbing causes. I was waiting at the foot of a College staircase, in the open air, for a friend who was coming down to join me. I was carelessly looking round me, watching people passing, etc., when my attention was suddenly absorbed in my own mental state, of which I know no more than that it seemed to me to be a vivid and unexpected ‘recollection’ – of what, I do not know. My friend found me a minute or two later, leaning my back against the wall, looking rather pale, and feeling puzzled and stupid for the moment. “More attacks came in the next two years. Often at night he would awaken ‘with an impression that I had succeeded in recollecting something that I wanted to recollect’ but then had forgotten it by morning. On awakening he would have ‘soreness at the edge of the tongue, a feeling of having been bitten, and saliva on the pillow’.