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Summary Article: Maudsley, Henry from Biographical Dictionary of Psychology

Born: 1835, near Settle, Yorkshire, England Died: 1918, Bushey Heath, Hertfordshire, England Nat: British Ints: Clinical psychology, general psychology, philosophical and theoretical psychology, psychiatry Educ: MD, University College, London, 1857 Appts & awards: Medical Superintendent, Cheadle Royal, 1856; Medical Superintendent, Manchester Royal Lunatic Hospital, 1859-62; Joint Editor, Journal of Mental Science, 1863-78; Physician, West London Hospital, 1864-74; Lecturer on Insanity, St Mary's Hospital, 1868-9; Professor of Medical Jurisprudence, University College London, 1869-79; President, Medico-Psychological Association, 1870


Principal publications
  • 1867 The Physiology and Pathology of Mind. Macmillan.
  • 1870 Body and Mind: An Enquiry into their Connection and Mutual Influence. Macmillan.
  • 1886 Natural Causes and Supernatural Seemings. Kegan.
  • 1908 Heredity, Variation and Genius, with an Essay on Shakespeare and Address on Medicine. Bale, Sons and Danilsson.
  • 1916 Organic to Human—Psychological and Sociological. Macmillan.
  • 1918 Religion and Realities. Bale, Sons and Danilsson.
  • Further reading
  • Lewis, A. (1951) Henry Maudsley: His work and influence. Journal of Mental Science, 97, 259-77.
  • Turner, T. (1988) Henry Maudsley—psychiatrist, philosopher and entrepreneur. Psychological Medicine, 18, 551-74.

  • Maudsley is often regarded as a ‘shadowy figure’ (a reputation partly due to the destruction of most of his private papers) in British psychiatry, a name known through the hospital, completed in 1915, that bears his name. His text Physiology and Pathology of the Mind, and revisions (Physiology of the Mind, 1876, and Pathology of the Mind, 1879) were influential in the foundation of British medical psychology. He also made important contributions to criminology — he staunchly opposed arguments for the hanging of lunatics — and to medical education generally. He was a leading figure in the Medico-Psychological Association (MPA) and had considerable editorial influence on the Journal of Mental Science (JMS). His personal qualities often brought him into conflict with peers and his hypercritical commentaries on others’ work tended to border on rudeness; many of his obituarists referred to his cynical nature and degenerationist philosophy. Partly as a consequence of his personal attributes, his own works tended to attract disproportionately harsh and unfair criticism. The year 1878 marked a watershed in his career: he resigned from the editorship of the JMS, following a period of sustained criticisms of his editorial policy. He did not attend the 1879 Annual Meeting and attended just three further annual meetings (1880, 1881 and 1887) before resigning from the MPA. Thereafter he became increasingly isolated from his professional colleagues and perhaps increasingly disillusioned with the manifest ineffectiveness of the therapeutics of the day. He devoted increasing amounts of time to philosophy, in which he was an ardent positivist in the tradition of Auguste Comte, though much of his writings convey a deep sense of pessimism concerning the future for the human condition.

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