By George Psyllides
PSYCHIATRIST and television personality Yiangos Mikellides was found dead at his home in Pyrga yesterday. He was 68.
He was found by his partner who notified police at 4am.
The cause of death was not announced, though Mikellides had been suffering from health problems in recent years. He had spent a long time in hospital recently in serious condition.
Born in Nicosia in 1946, Mikellides studied medicine in Thessaloniki, Greece. He specialised in psychiatry in the UK where he spent 23 years of his life between the ages of 17 and 40.
He wrote six books and he was a columnist in daily newspaper Politis and a regular contributor in magazines. He was also hosted on many TV shows and radio programmes.
Mikellides is often credited with breaking the taboo Cypriots had about seeking therapy.
“He always used to say that ‘since I came from the UK and started practicing psychiatry I closed down the mental asylum,’” his close friend and editor at Politis Dionisis Dionisiou said.
His achievement was recognised by the Psychiatric Association, which expressed its sadness.
“Our colleague and friend Yiangos Mikellides was a worthy doctor. An individual who contributed to the promotion of psychiatry and reduction of prejudice towards those suffering from psychological problems in our country,” the association said.
Other criticised Mikellides for prescribing drugs and little else.
That was something he did not deny.
“Without drugs, we’re redundant,” he told the Cyprus Mail in an interview in November 2010. “Mental illness is a biochemical illness. Meaning that its cause is biochemical abnormality, and its cure is biochemical treatment.”
“Psychology is over, it doesn’t exist anymore. There are no (psychological) treatments anymore – Freud’s treatments, which were very romantic and interesting, they don’t exist.”
He was also responsible for keeping a significant numbers of reluctant recruits out of the army. Such was his opposition to the National Guard, he would sign medical certificates for conscripts seeking exemption on psychological grounds at the drop of a hat. While this meant the defence ministry suspected all of Mikellides’ patients – the genuine and the not so genuine – they rarely dared to run the risk of rejecting his ‘diagnosis’.
Always outspoken, Mikellides is best remembered for his oftentimes harsh and unrelenting criticism of all things wrong in his eyes, but with special preference for politicians.
It did not matter whether he was on an afternoon television show or in his column – Mikellides always spoke his mind.
Of his countrymen who did not do the same he said: “Cypriots are cowards; whether it’s our genes, or our history – a very cowardly people. Shit-scared. And they brown-nose, and kiss ass, and brown-nose …”
Mikellides loathed the nouveaux riche, the island’s so-called elite, and politicians – though he did run in the European Parliament elections earlier this year – whom he accused of ignoring the impending economic catastrophe.
That was in 2010.
“They don’t try to understand that all these houses they’ve built with loans and so on will collapse like a house of cards if there’s even a mild economic crisis,” he said. “After all, we have no manufacturing, we don’t produce anything. We just run after Russians and kiss their ass, and the Archbishop meets with them and gives them medals.”
Mikellides was one of those people who rarely appear in Cyprus, Dionisiou said.
“He was a free man, a free thinker. A man who loved his fellow human beings and that is why he was loved so much.”
President Nicos Anastasiades also expressed his condolences in a written statement.
Reports said his funeral will take place on Saturday at 11.30am at the Constantinou and Elenis Church in Nicosia.