In memoriam: Professor Stephen J. Morley (1950–2017)
It is with deep sadness that we announce the passing of Stephen Morley, Professor of Clinical Psychology at the University of Leeds in the UK, on April 28, 2017. He will be hugely missed in the pain community, as a teacher, researcher, collaborator, and wise and generous commentator on many areas of pain. In honour of this, in 2016 he was awarded honorary membership of the International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP); his citation recognized among other qualities his “exceptional dedication to mentoring health professionals in the psychology of pain.” He was very proud to receive this honour, although unable to attend because of his illness. Despite this he continued to be productive until very recently, so that news of his death came as a shock to many.
Stephen fully understood that the history of science conceals a rich but neglected source of knowledge: “If you look for new ideas, read old masters.” In particular, he was inspired by Murray Sidman's, Tactics of scientific research (1960),3 which addressed experimental data in terms of their scientific importance, reliability, generality, and replicability; Monte Shapiro, who taught him in the mid-1970s in London, and who recognized the limitations of available nomothetic measures, developing instead sophisticated idiographic measurements. Stephen's work resonates particularly with these wise foundations, galvanizing them into novel research with remarkable relevance to researchers and clinicians in pain research and management.
As an illustration, Stephen was always fascinated by the individual, and how internal changes such as pain and the external environment (eg, how others respond to pain behavior) shape various individual responses in terms of cognition, behaviour, and the sense of “self.” Stephen was one of the few scholars addressing identity, where pain can infiltrate and affect a person's sense of self in various ways. He found novel possibilities in investigating the discrepancy between actual and desired/feared states of self, which may elicit negative emotions and serve as a motivational drive to behave in ways intended to reduce that discrepancy. This area of research is still in its infancy, but promises to grow steadily and to become a major topic in years to come.
The marriage of psychological theory and the application of experimental methods to single cases was Stephen's hallmark. As a scientist-practitioner par excellence, Stephen not only wanted to develop understanding but was equally eager to share his ideas with others, clinicians in particular. He wrote several manuals, most unpublished and freely available through his website. He bore his illness with extraordinary fortitude and at the time of his death, he had very nearly finished a book on single-case methodology, written principally for research-oriented clinicians, and had made arrangements for its subsequent publication (Morley,1 Routledge Medical Health, In press). Knowing Stephen's meticulous thinking and writing, it will undoubtedly be a hugely valuable resource for many years to come.
Stephen was one of the leading ambassadors for the psychology of pain, a pioneer in pain psychology, whose efforts promoted this field on the international level. At meetings, he invariably reached out to psychologists from other countries, reading their work, discussing it with them over coffee, welcoming them, and introducing them to key figures in the field of pain psychology. Through these efforts, he fostered many new collaborative relationships, and drew people into involvement in international organizations dedicated to basic and applied pain research, such as the IASP. Stephen's keen interest in graduate training was something he actively shared with international colleagues. He recognized the importance of developing new and effective programs for training clinical psychologists so that they could better assess and treat individuals suffering from chronic illnesses.