Monday 25 July 2016

History of Psychiatry podcast series launched

This is the first of two series of weekly podcasts beginning in July 2016. The podcaster is Professor Rab Houston of the School of History, a social historian of Britain who has published extensively on the history of mental disorders and their cultural, political, legal, and economic context, especially during the period 1500-1850.

The first series of 44 podcasts covers England, Scotland, Wales, and Ireland during the last 500 years, looking at continuities and changes in how mental illness was understood and treated, and at the radical shifts in systems of caring for those who were either mad or mentally handicapped during the last two centuries. The analysis aims to be balanced and fair.

The coverage is broad, ranging from how mental problems were identified and described in the past through changing ideas about their causes and developing therapeutic practices to important themes such as the reasons behind the emergence of psychiatry as a profession and the rise and fall of asylums as a location of care.

The series explores:
  • the history of suicide, 
  • madness in the media, 
  • psychiatry and the law, 
  • relations between medical practitioners and patients, 
and it assesses evidence that the incidence of mental illness has changed over time. It begins and ends with discussion of the value of history and the vital lessons that can be learned by studying the past, not only for psychiatrists, but for all healthcare professionals, welfare policy makers, and indeed anyone with an interest in mental health.

Go to:
For research relating to the podcasts, please visit

Twitter: @HistPsychiatry