Drawing primarily on examples from the UK, this paper argues that an understanding of the history of psychiatry can be of practical use to clinicians, service users and carers. It can provide a window on the present and an explanation of some aspects of current practice. In addition, a study of the past can provide a vision of how things might be done differently in the present and in the future. Moreover, knowledge of the past can also serve to remind us of psychiatry's potential for misuse and the dangers inherent in a view of the world in which psychiatry is simply seen as a benevolent science destined to find an answer to mental illness.
- Mental health