Gender, madness and society in 20th century Britain

by Dr Alison Haggett and Dr Mark Harrison


Last reviewed: October 2016


This module highlights the factors that influenced ideas about mental illness through the 20th century, examining the ways in which ideas about ‘normal’ behaviour were heavily contingent upon broader social fears and the cultural context of the time.


Despite significant advances arising from the biopsychosocial understanding of mental disorders, social and cultural factors still play an important part in interpreting and treating modern day mental illness.


By the end of the module you should have a deeper understanding of:


  • the ways in which assumptions about gender, race and class have previously impacted on ideas about mental illness


  • the history of hysteria and ‘shell shock’


  • the statistical representation of mental disorders


  • the value of seeing mental illness in its historical context.


Start the module



If you like this module, you may also be interested in:


The regulation of madness in England from the 17th century to the early 20th century: Part 1 and Part 2 by Dr Lisetta Lovett


Avoiding clinical bias in psychiatry by Dr Prasanna N. de Silva


Books from RCPsych Publications:

Mindreadings: Literature and Psychiatry


Madness at the Theatre



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