In Treatment: Mental Illness, Health, and Modern Sexuality


ACLS Fellowship Program


History and Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies


This project explores the encounter of sexual- and gender-variant people with psychiatry in the mid-twentieth-century. US Psychiatry dominated the understanding and regulation of sexuality in this period, and many psychiatrists cast homosexuality and gender variance as forms of mental illness serious enough to warrant carceral institutionalization. Drawing on the archive of Saint Elizabeths Hospital, the federal hospital for the mentally ill in Washington, D.C., as well as on a collection of previously unexamined psychoanalytic case files, this project tracks the experience of psychiatric scrutiny and medicalization from the perspective of patients and argues for the importance of diagnoses and self-questioning about mental illness and norms of health in the making of modern sexuality.