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Portrait of Dr Alexander Newington by a patient. Ticehurst House Hospital casebook, 1891.
Credit: Wellcome Library, London
William Walters Sargant (1907–1988) was a prominent psychiatrist and a major force in British psychiatry in the 1950s and 1960s.
Sargant practised "practical rather than philosophical approaches" to the treatment of mental illness and had a distaste for all forms of psychotherapy. His dogmatic enthusiasm for treatments such as electroconvulsive therapy and insulin shock therapy have made him a controversial figure.
Sargant trained as a psychiatrist at the Maudsley Hospital in London, before working at the Sutton Emergency Medical Service during World War II. In 1948 he was appointed director of the department of psychological medicine at St Thomas' Hospital London, and remained there until he retired in 1972. He also built up a lucrative private practice in Harley Street, and working as a media psychiatrist.
The majority of this archival collection consists of his writings, including his views on psychiatry and notes on his published books, the Unquiet Mind and Battle for the Mind. The collection also contains correspondence and clinical records for about 500 cases from Sutton Emergency Hospital in the 1940s. There is also some material relating to his interests in religious conversion and brainwashing.
The original papers may be consulted at the Wellcome Library.
The digitised William Walters Sargant papers are available under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial license. They can be freely downloaded and reused for non-commercial purposes, so long as attribution is given to Wellcome Library.
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