‘Often there is a good deal to be done, but socially rather than medically': the psychiatric social worker as social therapist, 1945-1970

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle




  • Vicky Long

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)223-239
Number of pages17
JournalMedical History
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2011


Seeking to align psychiatric practice with general medicine following the inauguration of the National Health Service, psychiatric hospitals in post-war Britain deployed new treatments designed to induce somatic change, such as ECT, leucotomy and sedatives. Advocates of these treatments, often grouped together under the term ‘physical therapies’, expressed relief that the social problems encountered by patients could now be interpreted as symptomatic of underlying biological malfunction rather than as a cause of disorder that required treatment. Drawing on the British Journal of Psychiatric Social Work, this article analyses the critique articulated by psychiatric social workers based within hospitals who sought to facilitate the social reintegration of patients following treatment.


  • chronic mental illness, social psychiatry, social work, medical history

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