This study researches theories and practices developed at therapeutic communities and in psychiatric social work. Both of these areas of psychiatric activity emerged between the wars around the 1930s. Therapeutic communities began as experiments in using the physical and relational environment as a means to reform ‘socially maladjusted’ young people. Psychiatric social work developed as a practice mainly in mental hospitals and child guidance clinics. It quickly emerged as a profession that linked emotional problems with ‘social maladjustment’.
The terminology of ‘maladjustment’ was closely associated with a psychological and psychiatric strategy that also became established between the wars in England. This was known as the movement for mental hygiene. Using unexploited archives, the study traces the development of theories and practices associated with psychiatric social work, and emergent therapeutic community style experiments, through their relation to this broader movement for mental hygiene. Part of the aim of the study is to use the research to interrogate theories subjectivity. Theories of subjectivity developed around the strategies discussed above will be interrogated alongside those associated with current historiography.
Conferences / Seminar Papers