King's College London
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Mind Matters: neuroscience and psychiatry
Special Collections Exhibitions|Mind Matters: neuroscience and psychiatry 

Mind Matters: neuroscience and psychiatry

This exhibition explores aspects of the history of neuroscience and psychiatry from 1800 to 1945, with special reference to the important contributions made by staff of King’s College London (and its constituent parts, particularly, of course, the Institute of Psychiatry) to both disciplines.

We have drawn on the rich library and archival collections held at King’s to demonstrate the College’s heritage of involvement in the medical and scientific exploration of the brain in its many manifestations – a heritage which is being further enriched by the researchers of today.

An inmate of Bethlem Hospital in 1814 (who has been identified as William Norris), from Jean-Étienne Dominique Esquirol's Des maladies mentales. Brussels: Libraire médicale et scientifique de JB Tircher, 1838 [Institute of Psychiatry Historical Collection h/Esq]An inmate of Bethlem Hospital in 1814 (who has been identified as William Norris), from Jean-Étienne Dominique Esquirol's Des maladies mentales. Brussels: Libraire médicale et scientifique de JB Tircher, 1838 [Institute of Psychiatry Historical Collection h/Esq]Where possible, the connexions at various historical points between neuroscience and psychiatry are expanded upon, but these connexions are complex and often difficult to discern. It can be argued that progress in neuroscience was more palpable than that in psychiatry during the period in question. This was largely because many of the illnesses with which psychiatrists are concerned are multicausal in origin, and in this period diagnosis depended to a large extent on interpretation of psychological symptoms rather than physical examination.

Through the provenance of books owned by John Conolly, Henry Maudsley and Sir Frederick Mott and the written and photographic record of Aubrey Lewis and Hilda North Lewis, the exhibition traces the personal and intellectual development of psychiatrists and psychiatry. The often overlooked role of the neuroscientist Robert Bentley Todd, first Dean of King’s College London’s medical school, in elucidating the nervous system and neurological diseases is explained, using extracts from one of his casebooks, alongside other important neurologists with connections to King’s, such as Charles Scott Sherrington.

We would like to thank Professor EH Reynolds for his invaluable advice and assistance in preparing this exhibition.

All items in this exhibition are from the collections of the Foyle Special Collections Library, the College Archives and the Liddell Hart Centre for Military Archives and are available for consultation there.

Exhibition curator: Brandon High

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