Henry Victor Dicks was born in Estonia in 1900 to an English father and Baltic German mother. He was educated initially at Pernau, Riga and Petrograd. As a result of his upbringing, Dicks spoke German near-perfectly and Russian fluently. During the First World War Dicks served with the Artists' Rifles and as an interpreter with military intelligence for the British Expeditionary Force in Russia. After the War he went on to study at Cambridge and at St. Bartholomew's Hospital in London, qualifying in medicine in 1926. Dicks then held a number of junior hospital appointments at St. Bartholomew's and Bethlem Hospitals and as a School Medical Officer for the London County Council. In 1928 he joined the staff of the Tavistock Clinic where he was, from 1934 to 1946, Assistant Medical Director. In 1939 he published his first monograph on Clinical Studies in Psychopathology.
During and immediately after the Second World War, Dicks held a number of different posts as follows:
1939-1941 Specialist Psychiatrist, Emergency Medical Service Neurosis Centre, Stanborough, Herts
1941-1946 Command Psychiatrist, London District
May-June 1941 Special duty in medical care of Rudolf Hess
1942-1944 Military Intelligence, Adviser on German morale
1944-1945 Adviser on Morale, Psychological Warfare Division, Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force
1945-1946 Adviser on German personel and 'de-Nazification', Intelligence Branch, Control Commssion for Germany
These experiences were to provide much raw material for Dicks's later work on authoritarian psychology and collective psychopathology.
Following the War, Dicks was Nuffield Professor of Psychiatry, University of Leeds, 1946-1948. He then returned to the Tavistock Clinc where he remained until 1965 as Deputy Director and Consultant Psychiatrist in charge of the Marital Unit. It was here that Dicks carried out innovative work in the area of marital and family mental health and therapy. His 1967 monograph Marital Tensions: Clinical Studies Towards a Psychological Thoery of Interaction was based on this work. Dicks was also the author of a history of the Clinic, published in 1970. After leaving the Tavistock, Dicks was, 1966-1970, a Senior Research Officer at the Centre for Research in Collective Psychopathology, University of Sussex. Whislt based there he conducted the research for his monograph Licensed Mass Murder: A socio-psychological study of some SS killers (1972).