Hereditary data in 19th century asylums


In the early 1800s, physicians in asylums began to keep records of their patients, and pointed to heredity as the most important cause of ‘madness’. This led to doctors and state officials attempting to curb the reproduction of the insane amid high levels of anxiety in society. In this podcast, Theodore Porter talks to Raj Persaud about his book ‘Genetics in the Madhouse’, discussing the history of data collection and its important links with eugenics and studies of genetics.


Date published: 25 September 2018

Presenter: Dr Raj Persaud

Interviewee: Professor Theodore M. Porter

Audio running time: 30 minutes

Credits: 0.5


Learning outcomes


By the end of this podcast, we hope you will have gained an understanding of:


  • the nature of data collection and record-keeping in 19th century asylums


  • the practices followed by 19th century physicians to curb the spread of insanity


  • the eugenics movement and the issues physicians should be aware of in modern-day studies of genetics.


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Podcast Big data: the answer to a big problem? with Professor Simon Lovestone


Module FREDA: a human rights-based approach to clinical practice by Dr Martin Curtice, Dr Richard Symonds and Dr Tim Exworthy

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