Sarah Chaney

Having completed a part-time MA in the History of Medicine at the Wellcome Trust Centre at UCL in 2009, I was awarded a doctoral studentship at the Centre for my research into self-mutilation in the late nineteenth century.

Although self-harm is often considered a phenomenon of the later twentieth century, the topic was also debated by late Victorian psychiatrists and asylum doctors, who began to formulate definitions of what they newly termed "self-mutilation" in the 1880s and 1890s. I am particularly interested in the ways in which cultural ideas and attitudes (such as ideas of selfishness, social improvement, and proscribed gender roles) informed the way in which medical understandings of self-mutilation were developed; conversely, I am interested in the way medical definitions reinforced and refined cultural ideas (the term "self-mutilation" was picked up by the popular press, for instance).

More widely, my research interests cover nineteenth century psychiatry, patient care and the asylum; fin de siècle literature and culture; the history of madness and patient autobiographies and the history and philosophy of suicide.

Banner Images: Wellcome Library, London except far right: Bethlem Royal Hospital Archives and Museum
Banner Design: Sharon Lockwood