Michael Rutter was the first professor of child psychiatry in the United Kingdom and is regarded as the father of academic child psychiatry/psychology. He carried out definitive research into the effects on children of a lack of stable family life and showed that certain characteristics of schools affected the achievements of their pupils. He also helped to establish the genetic basis of autism.
Michael spent many years examining the effects of institutional care on children. He challenged Bowlby’s attachment theory, establishing that multiple attachments were important for children rather than sole attachment to the mother. His work following Romanian children from their time in institutions through to their adoption showed how deprivation in early life affects child development, attachment and the formation of new relationships.