Asylum Tourism: The House of Horrors?

In this guest post Mary Chapman examines public interest in asylums in the nineteenth century.  Mary will soon be commencing a PhD at the University of Leeds, where she’ll be focusing on the impact of gendered psychological medicine on urban women, 1845-1900.

The Victorian asylum looms large in our cultural imagination as a place of fear, abuse and malpractice. The very word conjures up images of vast institutions, where hundreds of patients were kept under lock and key in a warren of rooms and corridors- lost to the outside world forever, with no hope of a cure. Such conceptions proliferate in popular culture, with haunted house tours of old hospitals and horror films that cash in on our dread of a medical discipline that remains taboo even today. As titillating as such things may be, they have served to solidify an anachronistic idea of the mental health professions, and ignore the value of nineteenth-century psychiatry as the foundation for the modern study of the mind.

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Registration open for “People Powered Medicine” Public Symposium

Registration has now opened for our one-day public symposium investigating public participation in medicine and healthcare from the nineteenth century to the present.

For more information, including the programme and details of how to register, click here.

People Powered Medicine: A one-day public symposium

L0070040 Public Health: Bermondsey

Dental health publicity, Bermondsey. Credit: Mirrorpix/ Southwark Local History Library and Archive/ Wellcome Images

Registration has now opened for our one-day public symposium investigating public participation in medicine and healthcare from the nineteenth century to the present.

The symposium, held at the Royal College of Surgeons of England (RCS), will bring together historical and contemporary perspectives to look at the relationship between the medical profession and the public. It will explore challenges to professional boundaries throughout the period, how the doctor-patient relationship has changed and in what ways the public can contribute to matters of medicine, health and disease.  See below for a full programme.

This public event will be followed by a drinks reception at the College’s Hunterian Museum.

It will be of interest to medical and healthcare practitioners, the public, historians and medical humanities scholars. The event is open to all.

Accredited by the Royal College of Surgeons of England for up to 6.0 CPD points

This event has been generously supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council.

Tickets £20/15 (Concessions: students, RCS fellows, members, affiliates, those in receipt of jobseekers or disability benefits, Free place for companion accompanying a disabled delegate.)

Ticket  includes all refreshments, delegates’ lunch and a post-symposium reception and private view of the museum and the exhibition ‘Vaccination: Medicine and the masses’.

When: 09:00 to 17:30, Saturday, 7 May 2016

Where: Hunterian Museum, Royal College of Surgeons of England, 35-43 Lincoln’s Inn Fields, London, WC2A 3PE

Register here using Eventbrite.


9:30-9:45         Introductions by Sally Shuttleworth (University of Oxford, Conscicom) and David Ward (RCS)

9:45-10:45       Keynote 1: Ruth Richardson (King’s College London): The Carer as a Critical Friend.

10:45-11:45     Panel 1 – Patient Preference in Late Nineteenth and Early Twentieth-Century Medicine

Kristin Hussey (Queen Mary University of London): “Don’t you think the Moorfields doctors knew better than this Indian?” Victorian eye surgery, patient choice and the 1893 trial of the Indian oculists.

Claire Brock (University of Leicester): Patient Resistance in the Early Twentieth Century.

11:45-12:15     Coffee break

12:15-13:15     Panel 2 – Patient Communities, Patient Consumers: Exercising People Power in Post-War Britain

Roberta Bivins (University of Warwick): Building Communities, Changing Practice.

Alex Mold (London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine): Patient-Consumers? Patient Organisations and Health Consumerism in Post-war Britain.

13:15-14:45 Lunch with an opportunity to visit Vaccination: Medicine and the Masses, an exhibition on the history of vaccination curated by Constructing Scientific Communities.

14:45-15:45    Panel 3 – Bodies, Patients and Publishing: Medicine and the Public Today

Tom Gillingwater (University of Edinburgh): Bringing anatomy out of the shadows.

Rosamund Snow (University of Oxford/British Medical Journal): From body-parts to curriculum-setters: the changing role of the patient.

15:45-16:15   Coffee break

16:15-17:15     Keynote 2:  Christopher McKevitt (King’s College London) Symbolic acts, strategic gains: patient and public involvement in the English NHS.

17:15-17:45     Reflections with Nicholas Markham (Royal College of Surgeons), Sally Shuttleworth, Christopher McKevitt, Ruth Richardson.

17:45  Drinks reception (included in ticket cost)

Full abstracts available to read here: People-Powered Medicine_Abstracts