GORDON PARKER describes himself as a “contrarian”. He admits that he’s difficult, combative, impatient with received wisdoms in psychiatry that he thinks don’t work, and dogged — even aggressive — in tackling problems, clinical and conceptual. And it’s clear in this intellectual autobiography that these personal qualities, combined with his enormous energy and brilliance, have been central to his enormous contributions to the field. Professor of Psychiatry at the University of New South Wales, Sydney, for 25 years; a leading and prolific researcher; and founder of the Black Dog Institute, which offers specialist expertise in mood disorders in Australia; Parker’s contributions to psychiatry are extraordinary, and he is an international leader in the field. But he didn’t get there without a fight.