Bernard Zeitlyn was born in London in 1922 and attended the City of London School. He matriculated in 1939 and enrolled in the Middlesex Hospital to train as a doctor, graduating in 1945. During his army service he was present at Belsen when it was liberated and later served in Cyprus and the Sudan. It was at this time that he decided to train as a psychiatrist. Over the next few years, he worked in a series of postgraduate training posts including The Maudesley Hospital, St Bernard's Hospital in Ealing, and The Cassell Hospital in Ham Common. At the same time he undertook a Freudian training analysis at the Institute of Psychoanalysis in London, and attained his MD qualification.
In 1956, Bernard was appointed Consultant Psychiatrist at Fulbourn Hospital and Addenbrooke's and worked successfully with Dr David Clarke to unlock the closed wards of Fulbourn. He remained at Fulbourn and Addenbrooke's Hospitals until his untimely death in a bicycle accident in 1979. During this time he inaugurated a postgraduate training programme for junior doctors who wished to study for higher qualifications. Bernard also founded a very popular series of Saturday morning lectures on psychiatric topics, of interest to a wider audience, and he established a Balint-type workshop for local GPs to help them to deepen their understanding of psychological aspects of their clinical work with their patients. He visited Bury St Edmunds once a week to teach doctors, social workers, clergymen and teachers the basic principles of psychiatry, and also taught regularly in other parts of East Anglia, including Peterborough, Norwich and Chelmsford. In 1977 he became a Foundation Fellow of the Royal College of Psychiatrists.
In his lifetime, Bernard's strong sense of humour made him a much loved member of the medical community. His dedication to his work and his unique contribution to the promotion of a wider understanding of psychiatry and psychotherapy in East Anglia continues to be recognised long after his death.