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‘Lonely lost people living in the waste-land’: T. Ferguson Rodger, ‘social psychiatry’, ‘mad dreaming’ and ‘rethinking mental health’

‘Lonely lost people living in the waste-land’: T. Ferguson Rodger, ‘social psychiatry’, ‘mad dreaming’ and ‘rethinking mental health’

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Funded by:  Lord Kelvin Adam Smith PhD scholarship

Main contact:   Sarah Phelan

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My PhD project is entitled “‘Lonely lost people living in the waste-land’: T. Ferguson Rodger, ‘social psychiatry’, ‘mad dreaming’ and ‘rethinking mental health’”. This PhD will explore the contribution to psychiatry of Thomas Ferguson Rodger (1907–1978), first Professor of Psychological Medicine at the University of Glasgow (1948–1973) and consultant psychiatrist at several Glasgow hospitals. Rodger is a somewhat neglected figure in the history of Scottish psychiatry, yet his career spanned –and in some measure also shaped- an important period of transformation as older “asylum-based” psychiatry was challenged by emergent general hospital- and community-based psychiatry. Rodger’s personal archive, including lecture notes, case notes, correspondence and miscellaneous items, has recently been acquired by the University of Glasgow Archives. This PhD will comprise a forensic reading/interpretation of this archive, alongside oral histories with individuals who remember him and his immediate legacy in/beyond the University. Adopting perspectives drawn from the history/geography of psychiatry and medical humanities, the ambition will be to reconstruct Rodger’s life, ideas and practices, set within the changing ‘spaces’ of mid-twentieth century psychiatric medicine.

Image Credit: University of Glasgow Library, Special Collections.