Professor Brett Kahr

In this introductory lecture, Professor Brett Kahr will provide an historical overview of the concept of psychopathology, exploring the ways in which our predecessors conceptualised the treatment of insanity from ancient Greece to the present day. Drawing upon the extensive research on the history of psychiatry, Kahr will consider the century-long tension between the conceptualisation of madness as either a spiritual curse or as a brain disease, unrelated to one’s personal biography, or as a consequence of early childhood experiences, especially those of a traumatic nature. After reviewing medieval models of mental illness and its treatment, Kahr will focus on the landmark year of 1856 – the date of birth of both Emil Kraepelin (who would become the father of biological psychiatry) and Sigmund Freud (who would, of course, become the father of psychoanalysis). We shall conclude with a study of the anti-psychiatry movement of the 1960s and the critical psychiatry movement of the 1970s and beyond, exploring the tension between the biomedical model, the psychoanalytical model, and the deconstructive model which has questioned whether psychological distress should be conceptualised as a condition requiring treatment at all.

About the Speaker

Professor Brett Kahr is Senior Clinical Research Fellow in Psychotherapy and Mental Health at the Centre for Child Mental Health in London, and Honorary Visiting Professor in the School of Arts at Roehampton University.