Psychosocial Studies and Psychiatry: An Awkward History

Jones, D. W. (2022). Psychosocial Studies and Psychiatry: An Awkward History. In: Frosh, S.; Vyrgioti, M. and Walsh, J. eds. Handbook of Psychosocial Studies. Palgrave, pp. 1–19.



This chapter sets out the case that the study of history should be regarded as fundamental to the psychosocial project. Although Psychosocial Studies can make good claims to be transdisciplinary, it was not simply born in the space between disciplines but has important roots within the discipline of psychiatry. By examining some particular events important to the emergence of psychiatry in the
nineteenth century, it is argued that this historical perspective can help us understand what has shaped some of the fundamental conundrums we face about how to think about the mind and its relationship to the social world. Psychiatry was a different form of discipline from its sociological and psychological cousins that
emerged in universities and learned societies, because psychiatry developed in worlds of practice. To understand the history of ideas in psychiatry, they need to be understood not simply as ideas as they appear in books and journals, but ideas that are used and shaped in the world in which they live. The ideas that we have about the mind and how it relates to the social world have been importantly shaped by psychiatric practice, shaped in the courtrooms, the newspapers, the asylums, and in the novels that use and play with those ideas.

Viewing alternatives


Public Attention

Altmetrics from Altmetric

Number of Citations

Citations from Dimensions

Item Actions