About Series Two

The voice of the mad in Britain between the 17th and 20th century

This is the second of two series of 70 weekly podcasts that began broadcasting in July 2016. This series comprises 26 podcasts. It uses extracts from the autograph writings of those with mental problems or their reported speech between the 17th and 20th century, to explore a range of mental disorders ranging from autism and depression to schizophrenia and obsessive stalking. Seen through original historical manuscripts and printed sources, the series documents individual, family, and social crises related to mental disorders, including suicide, crimes of violence, protection of vulnerable adults, religious mania, and admission to lunatic asylums and the experience of living in them. It aims:

  • To provide a balanced and historically reliable account of how sufferers from a wide range of mental disorders and handicaps experienced their afflictions, by using their own writings or those of others who quoted them.
  • To balance the usual bias in the history of psychiatry towards medical practitioners, by focusing on patients and their families and friends.
  • To raise awareness of attitudes towards mental health and the experience of those suffering from mental disorders or disabilities among the general public, by using historic examples.
  • To bring to the fore the significance of a knowledge of history to present day understandings of mental problems and ways of dealing with them.

Listen to Series Two