Chris Millard Profile PictureDr Chris Millard

BA, MA (York) PhD (Queen Mary, University of London)

Lecturer in the History of Medicine and Medical Humanities

+44 (0)114 22 22558 | Jessop West 2.76b (History 2nd floor)

Semester Two 2018/19 Office Hours: Tuesdays 09:00-11:00



Chris Millard joined the Department of History in 2016, having studied and taught in York, Birmingham and London. His research focuses on the history of psychiatry and medicine in the twentieth century, particularly around self-harm, suicide, faking illness and child abuse. Chris is also interested more broadly in the welfare state, the ‘helping professions’ of social work and child guidance, and the increasing influence of anthropology and sociology on medicine and psychiatry during the twentieth century. Chris has published on the history of attempted suicide and self-harm, English mental health policy, and the history of the emotions. Chris also worked in the UK Parliament in 2014, researching and writing a briefing on ‘parity of esteem between mental and physical health’.


Current Research

Chris is currently writing a history of illness deception in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries: Munchausen Syndromes and Modern Medicine. This book charts the chronic faking of illness (Munchausen syndrome), deliberately making one’s children ill (Munchausen syndrome by proxy), and faking illness online (Munchausen by internet). These linked categories are related to diverse concerns in Britain, such as the expanding welfare state and National Health Service, the ‘rediscovery’ of child abuse in the 1960s and 1970s, and the anxiety created by online anonymity.

Chris still writes about self-harm and attempted suicide, the subject of his PhD thesis and later his book: A History of Self-Harm in Britain: A Genealogy of Cutting and Overdosing (2015). His next project is a history of the idea of ‘parity of esteem between mental and physical health’. This is currently a hot topic in mental health policy, but has been a prominent way of campaigning for mental health for at least a century.

More generally, Chris is interested in the ways in which modern medicine and psychiatry influence and inform our everyday lives, from assumptions about who we are, the advice we are given, and the services provided for us. This involves research in the history of the emotions, the history of anthropology and sociology, and the history of psychiatry, psychology, social work and medicine.

Research Supervision

Chris is happy to supervise anyone interested in medicine, psychiatry, psychology, patient activism, social work, child guidance, the emotions, gender roles, the welfare state, the National Health Service and child abuse in twentieth- century Britain.

Current students:

  • Catherine McAllister - Epidemic Encephalitis and the Intersection of General and Mental Health Service Provision in Sheffield, 1917-1951.

All current students by supervisor | PhD study in History


Full list of Publications

Books Published

A History of Self-Harm in Britain: A Genealogy of Cutting and Overdosing London: Palgrave Macmillan (2015) A History of Self-Harm in Britain CoverA History of Self-Harm in Britain: A Genealogy of Cutting and Overdosing London: Palgrave Macmillan (2015)
This book is the first properly historical account of the rise of phenomenon of ‘self-harm’ in Britain. Drawing upon a wide range of sources (including psychiatric journal articles, hospital archives, police records, newspaper reports and Parliamentary debates), this diagnosis is put firmly into historical context. Bound up with transformations in mental healthcare heralded by the NHS, the closure of the mental asylums and the rise of the general hospital, self-harm emerges as a troubling phenomenon for medical practitioners, police and lawyers all at once. Self-harm is not simply a medical or clinical idea, however. It is shown to be intimately bound up with much broader ways of seeing society and human nature.

Books: Under Contract

Munchausen Syndrome: Illness and Deception in the Modern World Cambridge: Polity Press (2017)

Articles and Book Chapters

‘Concepts, diagnosis and the history of medicine: historicising Ian Hacking and Munchausen syndrome’ Social History of Medicine (under review)

‘Self-harm in Britain post-1945: untangling cutting and overdosing’ Child and Adolescent Mental Health (commissioned, under review)

Turner, John, Rhodri Hayward, Katherine Angel, K.W.M. Fulford, John Hall, Chris Millard and Mathew Thomson ‘Mental Health Services in England, 1959-2007: An Experiment in Oral History’ Medical History 59(4) (2015): 599-624

‘“The social”, stress and attempted suicide’ in M. Jackson (ed.) Stress in Post-War Britain, 1945-85 Studies for the Society for the Social History of Medicine, London, Pickering and Chatto (2015): 177-92

‘Editorial: Parity of esteem between mental and physical health’ British Medical Journal 349 (2014) (plus published response: ‘Authors’ Reply to Timimi’ (2014))

‘Making the cut: the production of “self-harm” in post-1945 Anglo-Saxon psychiatry’ History of the Human Sciences 26(2) (2013): 126-150

‘Reinventing intention: “self-harm” and the “cry for help” in postwar Britain’ Current Opinion in Psychiatry 25(6) (2012): 503-507

Public Engagement

Public Engagement

Chris co-devised and led the public engagement project ‘The Carnival of Lost Emotions’ at Queen Mary, University of London between 2012 and 2016 – engaging the public about the history of feeling. The Carnival has been shortlisted for an award, and showcased by the National Co-Ordinating Centre for Public Engagement (NCCPE) as an example of best practice in public engagement. It has been performed in diverse environments: the Barbican Centre, the Natural History Museum, the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and as part of Secret Cinema.


NCCPE CASE STUDY studies/carnival-lost- emotions

Chris recently devised and ran a public engagement event on psychological testing – talking people through 1940s, 1950s and 1960s psychological questionnaires. This was part of the Wellcome Trust’s ‘Feeling Spectacular’ programme.

In The Media

Chris has blogged for the Wellcome Library, the Centre for the History of the Emotions and The Conversation.

Administrative Duties

Current Administrative Duties

To Follow