Background Reading

Professor Houston’s history of psychiatry podcasts: background reading

I’ve chosen these because they are good history. All are in print and most are affordable; the Very Short Introductions are inexpensive if you want to buy your own copy. Please note that my 2014 piece is an article.

BURNS, T., Psychiatry: a very short introduction (Oxford, 2006). Level-headed and sympathetic, with historical background.

BUTLER, G. & MCMANUS, F., Psychology: a very short introduction (2nd edition, Oxford, 2014). Has useful chapters on abnormal psychology and psychoanalysis.

BYNUM, W. F., The history of medicine: a very short introduction (Oxford, 2008). An exemplary summary of long term continuities and changes.

HOUSTON, R. A., Madness and society in eighteenth-century Scotland (Oxford, 2000). This shows what can be done with legal documents, to open up the experience of madness and ‘mad-doctoring’ before the asylum age.

HOUSTON, R. A. & FRITH, U., Autism in history. The case of Hugh Blair of Borgue (Oxford, 2000). A collaboration between an historian and a cognitive scientist, which looks for the historic roots of autism.

HOUSTON, R. A., ‘A latent historiography? The case of psychiatry in Britain (1500-1820)’, The Historical Journal 57, 1 (2014), 289-310. A journal article, the footnotes of which provide extensive further reading on the pre-1820 period.

PORTER, R., Mind forg’d manacles. A history of madness in England from the Restoration to the Regency (London, 1987) or reprinted and retitled as Madmen: a social history of madhouses, mad-doctors & lunatics (Stroud, 2004). The only decent textbook about pre-1820, this is now quite dated. It is much better or cultural and literary dimensions than on social and institutional topics.

PORTER, R., Madness: a brief history (Oxford, 2002).

SCULL, A., Madness: a very short introduction (Oxford, 2011). This is a reasonable short overview by a sociologist, which tries to be balanced.

Further Reading