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In the novel Elephants Can Remember, Dr Willoughby was a psychiatrist specialising in twins. His son is also a physician.

Dr Willoughby Senior was a celebrated authority on twins, and had taken part in a project following up on the lives of selected pairs of identical twins. Twins who were brought up in the same environment were compared with twins who were brought up in different environments, to see how similar they remained, and whether similar things happened to them.

One of Dr Willoughby Senior's patients was Dorothea Jarrow. After the death of her husband, Dorothea's doctor thought that she was not getting over the bereavement in the way he would have liked. He asked Dr Wiloughby Senior for a consultation.

Dr Willoughby Senior had thought that Dorothea's condition "held very decided dangers", and that it was advisable for her to be put under observation at a nursing home. This became even more so after an accident that resulted in the death of Dorothea's son. Dr Willoughby Senior was quite sure that she had been responsible for the child's death, and advised that she should undergo mental treatment.

There was a school of treatment which was very popular at the time, and in which Dr Willoughby believed. This school's belief was that after sufficient treatment, people could resume normal lives, and it was to their advantage to do so. However, sometimes patients would return to their natural surroundings, only to relapse, and often tragedies or near tragedies occurred. Dr Willoughby Senior was very disappointed in one case, involving a patient who had undergone treatment, and then returned to live with her friend, Hilda. However, the patient later killed Hilda.

In the case of Dorothea Jarrow, Dr Willoughby Senior considered it inadvisable for her to live permanently under supervision. Instead, she underwent treatment for a period of years, and then left the establishment, and lived an ordinary life, with a nurse to watch over her.

Dr Willoughby Senior also visited Dorothea's sister Margaret, and talked to her. He had often seen cases of "almost identical illnesses or mental disturbances" between twins who had started life very devoted to each other, and wanted to see if this was the case with Dorothea and Margaret.


In the novel the character is simply called Dr Willoughby. The Senior is added to the Agatha Christie wiki, to differentiate him from his son, who has the same name.


In the Agatha Christie's Poirot episode Elephants Can Remember the part of Dr Willoughby is made more significant, and made into a murder victim.

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