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The Royal College of Psychiatrists Improving the lives of people with mental illness
History of Psychiatry

Welcome to the History of Psychiatry Special Interest Group (HoPSIG)

HoPSIG was launched at the College in March 2015.


HoPSIG was created to

  • encourage clinicians to research the history of psychiatry

  • improve our understanding of the subject and its value, including relating to current policy and practice

  • provide a forum for discussion.



Newsletter: News and notes

Upcoming Events


  • Electricity: the spark of life (exhibition)

    Date: Thursday 23 February 2017 – Sunday 25 June 2017

    Host: Wellcome Collection

    Venue: Wellcome Collection, 183, Euston Road, NW1 2BE

    More information


  • Whistle-blowers: Is it still 'Speak out, and get out'? (part of RCPsych International Congress 2017)

    Date: Tuesday 27 June 2017 (16.45–18.00)

    Host: Royal College of Psychiatrists

    Venue: Edinburgh International Conference Centre (EICC)

    More information


  • Edinburgh Congress 2017

    Date: 13–16 September 2017

    Host: British Society for the History of Medicine

    Venue: Surgeons' Hall, Edinburgh

    More information


  • Mental Health and War: Then and Now (free event)

    Date: Thursday 21 September 2017

    Host: Royal College of Nursing

    Venue: University of Chester

    More information


  • HoPSIG visit to Glenside Hospital Museum

    Date: Thursday 26 October 2017

    Venue: Glenside Hospital Museum, Bristol

    More information to follow


  • Kraepelin conference

    Date: Tuesday 8 May 2018

    Venue: Royal Society of Medicine, London

    Eminent speakers, including Kraepelin’s current successor in Munich.

    More information to follow


Newsletter Essay Prize - winners and runners up

HoPSIG Essay Prize

The inaugural HoPSIG Newsletter Essay Prize aimed to encourage psychiatric trainees and medical students to investigate and write about the history of psychiatry. Entrants were asked to submit an article suitable for publication in the newsletter (1000-1500 words). It could be a research project, essay, conference report, elective report or educational initiative.

We received ten high quality submissions on a wide range of topics. The judges thoroughly enjoyed reading all the entries, learnt much from them, and had a very tough time deciding on the winner and runners up.

Congratulations to:


Andrew Howe, ‘The creation of the padded room’

Runners up

Eilis Kempley, 'Drawing the boundary: mescaline hallucinations in artists'

Darren Bell, 'From gulags to psychiatric wards'

Your Research

Send your research queries and ideas to Claire Hilton if you would like to see them posted here.

Other Announcements

Malcolm Kinnear (Murray Royal Hospital, Perth) sent the following information:

I am now Treasurer of the Scottish Society of the History of Medicine, SSHM, and would like to draw the group's attention to the fact that the SSHM has funds to support research in Scottish medical history (the Guthrie Trust) which can generate awards of up to £2000-£3000 for credible proposals. We would welcome applications. Further details are on SSHM website.


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