Hidden from History? The psychiatric (mis) treatment of lesbians since the 1950s in England.

We know a fair bit about what happened to gay men in the English mental health system. For example, the fact that some men received ‘aversion therapy’ (see, for example, Curing Queers by Tommy Dickenson). But what happened to Lesbians?  We have been exploring LGBT; women’s; and mental health archives to find out what happened to same-sex attracted women in the mental health system in England.  As a result of our research, we could offer talks on the following topics:

A Suitable Case for Treatment? How lesbians were ‘treated’ in the English mental health system (including case studies of women’s experiences).

A ‘Special Problem’: How lesbian sexuality was constructed by psychiatry and how this differed from the pathologisation of male homosexuality.

Lesbian Politics and Psychiatry: an exploration of the strategies adopted by the emerging lesbian movement to challenge the pathologisation of female homosexuality.

The research was funded by a Wellcome Trust Humanities and Social Science Seed Award (Sexualities and Health stream)

Helen Spandler, Professor of Mental Health Politics, University of Central Lancashire HSpandler@uclan.ac.uk

Sarah Carr, PhD, Senior Fellow in Mental Health Policy, University of Birmingham