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Tom Kraft

The following text is a pre-publication version of a tribute found in Contemporary Hypnosis. It contains a number of differences compared to the published version.

Dr Thomas Kraft (‘Tom’) MB, ChB, FRCPsych, DPM died on the 10 of December 2008. Tom made a significant contribution to the field of integrative psychotherapy—that is to say, psychodynamic psychotherapy combined with hypnosis and/or behaviour therapy— and the following tribute celebrates the life of a man who supported, enriched and transformed the lives of many people in both short- and long-term therapy.


Life and Character

Tom was born in Berlin in 1932 into a wealthy Jewish family, where his grandfather owned a successful haberdashery business in the city. His father, a doctor of law, became aware very early on of the trend the political situation was taking, and he arranged for the family to leave for Switzerland as soon as possible. His grandfather, however, said that the prospect of a divided country and the possibility of mass segregation was not possible in Germany; however, he and his wife were later sent to a concentration camp and all of their assets were confiscated.


Tom adapted to life in Switzerland, enjoying Swiss chocolate and home-made ice cream, and teaching skiing in the alps for fruit at the tender age of five. He also learnt to speak Swiss dialect. From Switzerland. they moved to England through France and settled initially in Golders Green. Tom learnt to play the violin and, under his Aunt Truda’s influence, developed a love for classical—particularly, Baroque—music. During his childhood, Tom spent a significant amount of time at boarding school, which he hated. Nevertheless, Tom found a tree in one of the gardens and, in his spare time, he listened to the sounds of the birds, and he even created his own vegetable patch in the middle of the woods. When the family moved to Oxford, Tom continued to listen to classical music and to play the violin; he also worked hard at school and went to the theatre. The Oxford play company was always delighted when he came to visit because his infectious laugh made sure that the play would be a success.


Tom had wanted to become a doctor since the age of 5; at this age he had a first aid kit and he went around bandaging people throughout the day. It was almost an inevitability that he would train to become a doctor, and, Tom went to Leeds to do just that. Having qualified from Leeds Medical School in 1956, Tom held various house jobs in London—he was the house surgeon at St. Giles’ (1957-8), house physician at the Royal Northern (1957-8), Locum at the Brook and Dulwich Hospital (1958), House Physician at the Wittington (1958-9) and Senior House Officer at the Guy’s Maudsley Neurosurgical Unit (1959). During his national service, Tom was then stationed at Aldershot with the Royal Army Medical Corps, and was subsequently based in London and in the Middle East on the Heat and Acclimatisation trials. Tom also worked at the Army Information Offices in Belfast, Cambridge and Oxford: it was while he was in Belfast that he travelled regularly all the way back to London to finish a course in neurology at Hammersmith Hospital.


Tom went on to specialize in psychiatry. He worked at St Thomas’ for Dr William Sargeant, as a Psychiatric House Physician at the Netherne Hospital (1963-4), as a Senior House Officer, Registrar and Senior Registrar at St Clement’s (1964-9), Senior Registrar at Claybury Hospital (1969-71) and Senior Registrar at Barts’ (1971). Tom then set up in private practice in Harley Street (1971-2008) where he worked up until two weeks before his death in December 2008. Tom also treated patients in a number of institutions including the Grovelands’ Priory (1987-1995), the Florence Nightingale Hospital (1988-2003), Edenhall (1988-1998) and St Luke’s Hospital for the Clergy (2000-2008).


It was in Harley Street that Tom developed still further his unique ability to treat patients. He started working at No. 80 Harley Street in 1971 and remained there until his death in 2008. Towards the end of his career, he set up the organisation, London Psychotherapy, and his son, David Kraft, took over the practice shortly before he died. Throughout his time at No. 80 Harley Street, he was a lifeline for many patients. Some, who needed his continuous support, remained with him for years, while many others were, with his expertise, able to overcome their psychological conditions in a relatively short period of time. Tom had a tremendous success with thousands of patients over the 37 years in which he worked in private practice. He wrote some review papers, but many of his articles were case studies in which patients had successful outcomes: in many respects, these papers are a tribute to Tom’s life’s work.


Tom’s contribution to the field of integrative psychotherapy

It was as early as 1963, that Tom began working in the field of psychotherapy. He trained as a psychiatrist and completed the DPM in 1965; over the next few years, as part of his training, he underwent psychoanalysis himself and gained the MRCPsych in1973. During this period, Tom did some of the pioneer work in behaviour therapy which re-defined how behavioural approaches could be utilized in the treatment of psychological disturbances (Kraft & Burnfield, 1967; Kraft & Al-Issa, 1966; Al-Issa & Kraft, 1967; Kraft 1975). He employed learning theory in the treatment of a patient with traffic phobia (Kraft, 1965a), showed how aversion therapy could be utilized in the treatment of sexual perversions (Kraft, 1967), and used a combination of systematic desensitization and methohexitone in the successful treatment of premature ejaculation (Kraft & Al-Issa, 1968a). Tom introduced the concept that social anxiety was often connected with and the cause of drug abuse and alcholism (Kraft & Al-Issa, 1968b; Kraft 1969b; Kraft 1971b; Kraft, 1976). Further, in 1970, Tom showed that psychotherapy—specifically psycho-dynamically orientated psychotherapy—and behaviour therapy were not diametrically opposite (Kraft, 1970b).


Tom used Wolpe’s (1958) principle of reciprocal inhibition, using a graded hierarchy of increasing anxiety-provoking situations and pairing this with the relaxation in hypnosis. Tom used systematic sensitization in the treatment of heat phobia (Kraft & Al-Issa, 1965b), frigidity (Kraft & Al-Issa, 1967a), alcoholism (Kraft & Al-Issa, 1967b; Kraft, 1968; Kraft & Al-Issa, 1968b; Kraft, 1969c; Kraft, & Wijesinghe, 1970), cigarette addiction (Kraft & Al-Issa, 1967c), sexual disorders (Kraft, 1969), agoraphobia (Kraft, 1973), claustrophobia (Kraft, 1973), sea sickness (Kraft, 1984a), injection phobia (Kraft, 1984b), balloon phobia (Kraft, 1994) and driving phobia (Kraft & Kraft, 2004), cannabis and chocolate addiction (Kraft & Kraft, 2005), and hyperhidrosis (Kraft, 1985; Kraft and Kraft, 2007). Tom also employed all the sensory modalities in the hypnotherapy in order to re-create the experience as vividly as possible (Kraft, 1970a; Kraft, 1984a). He used systematic desensitization and combined this with psychotherapy: he found that the support that was given in the psychotherapy was essential in the treatment programme. He also used this integrative approach to help symptom relief for patients suffering from cancer (Kraft, 1991; Kraft, 1992; Kraft 1993a) and successfully treated patients with chemotherapy phobia (Kraft, 1993b), injection phobia, (Kraft, 1984b), stuttering (Kraft, 1994b), IBS (Kraft & Kraft, 2007b) and snoring (Kraft, 2003).


Final Thoughts

Tom did not stand still. He continued to refine his work and challenge medical practitioners, psychiatrists, psychologists and psychotherapists. Early on in his career as a psychiatrist, he affectively stopped prescribing drugs because he felt that it was important to find the source of the problem and the psychodynamics responsible for the condition. He also felt that it was extremely important for patients to make their own decisions and that they should exercise control both in the consulting room and in their everyday lives. He continued to re-evaluate his thoughts from day to day, and he discussed these ideas and theories with his colleagues and with his son, David Kraft, who, having been essentially trained by Tom, has continued his work as a psychotherapist and hypnotherapist in private practice. Tom was a fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine from 1959, and attended many lectures run by the Section of Hypnosis and Psychosomatic Medicine; he also trained students attending the Applied Hypnosis course at UCL; he gave many lectures on behalf of BSMDH and BSECH and was influential here as well as in private tutorials. He was a member of the BMA, an honorary member of BSCAH and a member of the Society for the Exploration of Psychotherapy Integration (SEPI). In 2005, Tom was elected a Fellow of the Royal College of Psychiatrists.


Tom was a man of great integrity and was intrinsically caring and non-judgemental both in and outside the consulting room. Tom was an innovator and a pillar of strength. His influence has been profound both in the literature and as a teacher. For those that knew him, he was a source of knowledge with an incredible memory for detail; he was generous and kind; he had an infectious laugh and a warm aura about him; he was never arrogant, and, when you were with him, you knew you were always in safe hands. Tom will be missed by many people, but particularly by his family.



Al-Issa I & Kraft, T. Personality factors in behavioural therapy. (1967) Canadian Psychologist, 8a: 218-222.

Kraft, T & Al-Issa, I. The application of learning theory to the treatment of traffic phobia. (1965a) British Journal of Psychiatry, 111, 277-279.

Kraft, T & Al-Issa, I.Behaviour therapy and the recall of traumatic experience: a case study. (1965b), Behaviour Research & Therapy, 3, 55-58.

Kraft, T & Al-Issa, I. Brief behaviour therapy for the general practitioner. (1966) Journal of the College of General Practitioners, 12, 270-276.

Kraft, T & Al-Issa, I. Behavior therapy and the treatment of frigidity. (1967a) American Journal of Psychotherapy, 21, 116-120.

Kraft, T & Al-Issa, I. Alcoholism treated by desensitization: a case report. (1967b) Behaviour Research & Therapy, 5, 69-70.

Kraft, T & Burnfield, A. Treatment of neurosis by behaviour therapy. (1967) London Hospital Gazette Supplement 70, No. 2, 12-16.

Kraft, T & Al-Issa, I. Desensitization and reduction in cigarette consumption. (1967c) Journal of Psychology, 67, 323-329.

Kraft, T. Behaviour therapy and the treatment of sexual perversions. (1967) Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, 15, 351-357.

Kraft, T & Al-Issa, I. The use of methohexitone sodium in the systematic desensitization of premature ejaculation. (1968a) British Journal of Psychiatry, 114, 351-352.

Kraft, T & Al-Issa, I. Desensitization and the treatment of alcohol addiction. (1968b), British Journal of Addiction, 63, 19-23.

Kraft, T. Experience in the treatment of alcoholism. (1968) In Progress in Behaviour     Therapy (Edited by H Freeman) Wright: Bristol (Pp 25-33.)

Kraft, T. Desensitization and the treatment of sexual disorders. (1969a) Journal of Sex Research, 5, 130-134.

Kraft, T. Psychoanalysis and behaviorism: a false antithesis. (1969b) American Journal of Psychotherapy, 23, 482-487.

Kraft, T. (1969c)Alcoholism treated by systematic desensitization. A follow-up of eight cases. Journal of the Royal College of General Practitioners, 18, 336-340.

Kraft, T. Systematic desensitization using emotional imagery only. (1970a) Perceptual and Motor Skills, 30, 293-294.

Kraft, T & Wijesinghe B. Systematic desensitization of social anxiety in the treatment of alcoholism: a psychometric evaluation of change. (1970) British Journal of Psychiatry, 117, 443-444.

Kraft, T. Psychotherapy and behaviour therapy: a combined technique. (1970b) London Hospital Gazette, October, 8-12,

Kraft, T. Social anxiety model of alcoholism. (1971).Perceptual and Motor Skills, 33, 797-798.

Kraft, T. The treatment of phobias by systematic desensitization: a follow-up of three cases. (1973) London Hospital Gazette, October, 2-6.

Kraft, T. Behaviour therapy and personality change. (1975) International Journal of Social Psychiatry, 21, 111-116.

Kraft, T. The combined behaviour therapy-psychotherapy approach. (1976) Projective Psychology, 23,15-29.

Kraft, T. Systematic desensitization in a patient with poor visual imagery. (1984a) Proceedings of the British Society of Medical and Dental Hypnosis, 5, 45-47.

Kraft, T. Injection phobia: a case study. (1984b) British Journal of Experimental and Clinical Hypnosis, 1, 13-18.

Kraft, T. Successful treatment of a case of hyperhidrosis. (1985) Proceedings of the British Society of Medical and Dental Hypnosis, 6, 11-13.

Kraft, T. Hypnotherapy for the terminally ill: the Edenhall experience. (1991) Proceedings of the British Society of Medical and Dental Hypnosis, 7, No 5, 21-24.

Kraft, T. Counteracting pain in malignant disease by hypnotic techniques: five case studies. (1992) Contemporary Hypnosis, 9, 123-129.

Kraft, T. Using hypnosis with cancer patients: six case studies. (1993a), Contemporary Hypnosis, 10, No 1, 43-48.

Kraft, T. A case of chemotherapy Phobia: an integrative approach. (1993b), Contemporary Hypnosis, 10, No 2, 105-111.

Kraft, T. The combined use of hypnosis and in vivo desensitization in the successful treatment of a case of balloon phobia, (1994a) Contemporary Hypnosis,11, No 2,71-76

Kraft, T. Successful treatment of a case of stuttering, with a 10-year follow-up. (1994b) Contemporary Hypnosis, 11, No 3, 131-136.

Kraft, T. Treatment options for snoring. (2003) Journal of The Royal Society of Medicine 96,  No 9. 473.

Kraft, T & Kraft, D. Creating a virtual reality in hypnosis: a case of driving phobia (2004), Contemporary Hypnosis. 21, No. 2, 79 – 85.

Kraft, T & Kraft, D. Covert Sensitization revisited: Six Case Studies (2005) Contemporary Hypnosis, 22, No. 4: 202-209.

Kraft, T & Kraft, D. An integrative approach to the treatment of Hyperhidrosis: Review and Case Study (2007a) Contemporary Hypnosis, 24, No 1: 38-45.

Kraft, T & Kraft, D. Irritable Bowel Syndrome: symptomatic treatment approaches versus integrative psychotherapy’ Contemporary Hypnosis (2007b), 24, (4): 161-177.

Wolpe, J (1958). Psychotherapy by Reciprocal Inhibition. Stanford: Stanford University Press.

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