Introducing: Hazel Morrison

Dr. Hazel Morrison is a Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Department of Geography at Durham University. She can be contacted at:


Hazel Morrison undertook Masters and PhD research under the umbrella subject of the history of medicine at the University of Glasgow between 2008-2014. By applying a critical hermeneutics to the psychiatric case note record, her specialism became the so-called ‘dynamic’ psychiatry of early 20th century Scottish psychiatrist Dr. David Kennedy Henderson. Taking methodological and theoretical influence from research emerging in the interdisciplinary spheres of the arts, medical humanities and social sciences, Hazel explored the constituent parts of the ‘dynamic’ clinical encounter, so to understand the agency of both patient and psychiatrist is shaping the history of medical knowledge. Her most recent article, ‘Constructing patient stories’ can be found in Medical History.

Hazel is currently working as a postgraduate research associate on the Volkswagen Foundation funded project ‘‘Wandering Minds: Interdisciplinary Experiments on Self-Generated Thought.’ Collaborating with the project’s four investigators: Felicity Callard, Des Fitzgerald, Daniel Margulies and Jonny Smallwood, Hazel aims to explore past and present experimental entanglements in theory, method and history concerning mind wandering (and related phenomena) from humanities, qualitative social sciences and cognitive neuroscience perspectives. Using auto-ethnographic and historical methods, this project aims not only to uncover a history of interdisciplinary approaches to the subject of self generated thought, but to specify what is currently involved in concretely experimentalizing humanistic and social scientific knowledge in an interdisciplinary neuroscientific setting.


‘Constructing Patient Stories: ‘Dynamic’ Case Notes and Clinical Encounters at Glasgow’s Gartnavel Mental Hospital, 1921–32’, Medical History, Volume 60, Issue 01, January 2016, 67-86.


This article contextualises the production of patient records at Glasgow’s Gartnavel Mental Hospital between 1921 and 1932. Following his appointment as asylum superintendent in 1921, psychiatrist David Kennedy Henderson sought to introduce a so-called dynamic approach to mental health care. He did so, primarily, by encouraging patients to reveal their inner lives through their own language and own understanding of their illness. To this effect, Henderson implemented several techniques devised to gather as much information as possible about patients. He notably established routine ‘staff meetings’ in which a psychiatrist directed questions towards a patient while a stenographer recorded word-for-word the conversation that passed between the two parties. As a result, the records compiled at Gartnavel under Henderson’s guidance offer a unique window into the various strategies deployed by patients, but also allow physicians and hospital staff to negotiate their place amidst these clinical encounters. In this paper, I analyse the production of patient narratives in these materials. The article begins with Henderson’s articulation of his ‘dynamic’ psychotherapeutic method, before proceeding to an in-depth hermeneutic investigation into samples of Gartnavel’s case notes and staff meeting transcripts. In the process, patient–psychiatrist relationships are revealed to be mutually dependent and interrelated subjects of historical enquiry rather than as distinct entities. This study highlights the multi-vocal nature of the construction of stories ‘from below’ and interrogates their subsequent appropriation by historians.


One thought on “Introducing: Hazel Morrison

  1. Pingback: Unearthing the ‘clinical encounter': Gartnavel Mental Hospital, 1921-1932. | Asylum and Post-Asylum Spaces

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