Category Archives: Papers

New paper: The (un)habitual geographies of social anxiety disorder

This is Louise Boyle’s first publication related to her PhD research that explores the lived experience of social anxiety. The paper was published as part of a Special Issue on Health and Wellbeing in the journal Social Science and Medicine.

The article is available online.


This article investigates experiences of Social Anxiety Disorder (‘social anxiety’) with reference to recent geographical debates on habit. It considers how habit simultaneously captures (un)reflective modes of being in the world and the foreboding disruptive capacity of uncertainty as people attempt to adapt to, negotiate and manage everyday life with social anxiety. Drawing on lived accounts from online questionnaires and online interviews with people diagnosed, or self-diagnosing, with social anxiety, it uncovers the relational and embodied practices-and the inherent spatialities of such practices-that enable individuals to (re)gain control of their socio-spatial surroundings. It also considers the capacity for habits to become disrupted and displaced through pervasive anxieties and persistent rumination and anticipation, situated within the context of participants’ everyday lives. This analysis highlights the social, spatial and temporal dimensions of socially anxious experiences. Overall, by interpreting lived experience in this way, this article introduces a socio-spatial dynamic to otherwise extremely limited accounts of social anxiety found outside of the dominant biomedical framework.


New paper: ‘It used to be here but moved somewhere else’: post-asylum spatialisations – a new urban frontier?

‘It used to be here but moved somewhere else’: post-asylum spatialisations – a new urban frontier?

Ebba Högström

Social & Cultural Geography


This paper presents a number of spatialisations of mental health care in Sweden, exemplifying these spatialities in three vignettes drawn from the Swedish post-asylum landscape. Working with the notion of a ‘new urban frontier’, I examine: (1) how these landscapes have been transformed by processes of decentralisation and austerity measures; (2) how this transformation plays out within and through physical space; and (3) the new spatial relations that are produced through such transformations. The idea of ‘landscapes of care’ and the concept of ‘multiscalarity’ are used to understand the changing spatialisations evident in mental health care, and the shift we are presently witnessing which replaces the tangible spaces of ‘bricks and mortar’ of the past with, rather, a diversity of settings, localisations and administrations. The empirical material that forms the basis of the analysis derives from a larger study of spatial discourses in Swedish mental health care, which I carried out between 2008 and 2011. The paper concludes with some thoughts on the kinds of spatial relations evident within the post-asylum landscape of formal mental health care in times of austerity and decentralisation, wherein I consider whether these spatialisations can be regarded as a ‘new urban frontier of care’.

Constructing Patient Stories: ‘Dynamic’ Case Notes and Clinical Encounters at Glasgow’s Gartnavel Mental Hospital

New Article

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


Call for Papers: 2016 Theme Issue for History of Psychiatry

New and emerging research on the history and geography of Scottish ‘madness’, asylums and psychiatry

Guest Editors: Jonathan Andrews (School of History, Classics and Archaeology, Newcastle University) and Chris Philo (School of Geographical & Earth Sciences, University of Glasgow)


Notwithstanding notable contributions from scholars such as Jonathan Andrews, Mike Barfoot, Alan Beveridge, Gayle Davies, Rab Houston, Gavin Miller, Iain Smith and others, it arguably remains the case that Scottish psychiatry has tended to be the ‘Cinderella’ in the existing historiography of British psychiatry. While the journal History of Psychiatry has carried ‘country reports’ on both the historiography of and substantive histories of psychiatry (expansively understood) in different parts of the world, furnishing a rich vein of ‘regional’ surveys, nothing of this kind has yet occurred in the journal specifically for Scotland.

The purpose of this proposed theme issue will be to rectify this absence, and in so doing to profile new and emerging research in the field of work on Scottish ‘madness’, asylums and psychiatry, particularly through giving a platform to a new generation of researchers (PhD students, postdoctoral researchers or other early career researchers) now starting to contribute new empirical evidence – linked to fresh conceptual and methodological agendas – to our understanding of ideas, practices, institutions and patient experiences in this Scottish history. By bringing together a sample of their work, together with an introductory essay contextualising their contributions, the ambition will be to create a theme issue that is more than the sum of its parts: one allowing – through covering a diversity of time periods, types of ‘lunacy’ reforms and asylum/clinical provisions, species of mental disorder, forms of treatment, experiences ‘from below’ of patients, etc. – to paint a reinvigorated overall picture of the turbulent history and changing geography of the Scottish ‘mad-business’.

The envisaged temporal focus of the theme issue will be early-1700s through to mid-1900s, although the editors would be prepared to consider contributions tackling both earlier and later periods. The ambition is that, while papers will report detailed empirical research on particular situations, events, individuals, institutions, etc., there should be an attempt in every paper to see its empirical focus within the context of a broader narrative of key transitions within the past of Scottish ‘madness’, asylums and psychiatry. Moreover, some comparative sense, alert to the possible distinctiveness of the Scottish case relative to what has occurred elsewhere in the British Isles and beyond, would be welcomed. It will be essential that authors demonstrate an awareness of existing scholarship in the history of Scottish psychiatry, as well as thoroughly explaining the nature and provenance of archival (or other primary) sources employed in the empirical studies reported.

Potential contributors

Given the focus on ‘new and emerging research’, the anticipation is that contributors will be PhD students and postdoctoral/early career researchers (whose own PhD awards will likely have been in the last 10 years). Nonetheless, the editors would be prepared to hear from other scholars who might not ‘fit’ these categories, provided that a case is made about the novelty of the contribution being made to scholarship on the history of Scottish psychiatry. No a priori preference will be given to potential contributors from any particular institution or part of the world, and the baseline criteria for inclusion will be the quality of the paper submitted.


A call for papers (the present document) will be sent out by the end of October 2014.

Individuals interested in contributing should sent a proposal to Jonathan Andrews ( and Chris Philo ( by end of November 2014, with suggested title, abstract (max. 200 words) and your contact details. It is possible at this stage that we may deem a potential contribution unsuitable or make suggestions about how it might usefully be recast to be suitable. The go-ahead at this stage can be no guarantee that a paper will be published in the journal (which will depend entirely on how it fares in the usual refereeing process).

Papers should be submitted by end of June 2015 via e-mail as WORD attachments simultaneously to both the journal editor, German E. Berrios (, and the theme issue guest editors, Jonathan Andrews ( and Chris Philo ( Andrews and Philo will coordinate the refereeing of the papers, with oversight from Berrios. In the event that more papers successfully negotiate the refereeing process than can be accommodated in the theme issue itself, the journal would undertake to publish ones not selected for the theme issue in subsequent general issues of the journal. It should be underlined that the decisions to publish or not will be based squarely on the referees’ reports and approved by Berrios.


Papers should be prepared according to the Notes for Contributors provided in the journal, and the absolute maximum length should be 10,000 words (including notes and references).

JA and CPP


Psychoanalytic Geographies

Psychoanalytic Geographies is a newly published book by Ashgate (June 2014), which has been described as “a unique, path-breaking volume and a core text for anyone seeking to grasp how psychoanalysis helps us understand fundamental geographical questions, and how geographical understandings can offer new ways of thinking psychoanalytically”. Contributors from the Asylum and Post-Asylum Spaces Group include Hester Parr and Cheryl McGeachan, who both have chapters included in the monograph.


Cheryl’s chapter, titled ‘Worlding’ Psychoanalytic Insights: Unpicking R.D. Laing’s Geographies, aims to build upon her previous work on the Scottish psychiatrist Ronald David Laing (1927-1989) that has situated his experiences, but attempts to adjust the focus in order to think more explicitly about the relationships that emerge between Laing’s theories and therapeutic practices with seriously disturbed individuals and their, often deliberate, geographical resonances; in short, to think about Laing’s geographies. This chapter hence attempts to consider not only the geographies integral to these theories and practices, but also to highlight, through an analysis of some of the case-study material presented in these key texts, Laing’s inherently spatial approach in attempting to understand seriously disturbed, often schizophrenic, individuals. Beginning with an introduction to the existential and phenomenological traditions from which Laing drew considerable inspiration, this piece investigates the foundations of Laing’s work with his patients and introduces his complex relationship to psychoanalytic thought. Using the case of ‘Mrs R’, it then seeks to demonstrate Laing’s insistence on ‘worlding’ psychoanalytic insights, such as the unconscious, through seeing them set squarely in everyday social and familial spaces. Moving to unpick Laing’s particular concern with ‘ontological insecurity’ through the case of ‘magical camouflage’, this chapter reveals the attention paid to the situated psycho-dynamics of his patients and their worlds in connection with Scottish psychoanalytic thought. In conclusion, it suggests different Laing-inspired pathways of connection between space, psychoanalysis and mental health geographies.

‘The world is full of big bad wolves’: investigating the experimental therapeutic spaces of R.D. Laing and Aaron Esterson

History of Psychiatry
Cheryl McGeachan
ISSN 0957-154X (In Press)


In conjunction with the recent critical assessments of the life and work of R.D. Laing, this paper seeks to demonstrate what is revealed when Laing’s work on families and created spaces of mental health care are examined through a geographical lens. The paper begins with an exploration of Laing’s time at the Tavistock Clinic in London during the 1960s, and of the co-authored text with Aaron Esterson entitled, Sanity, Madness and the Family (1964). The study then seeks to demonstrate the importance Laing and his colleague placed on the time-space situatedness of patients and their worlds. Finally, an account is provided of Laing’s and Esterson’s spatial thinking in relation to their creation of both real and imagined spaces of therapeutic care.