The DeWitt Wallace Institute for the History of Psychiatry is an interdisciplinary research unit in the Department of Psychiatry of the Joan and Sanford I. Weill Medical College of Cornell University and New York-Presbyterian Hospital. Its mission is to support, carry out, and advise scholarship in a broad range of issues relevant to the present day theory and practice of psychiatry. Since its inception in 1958, the Institute has sought to use in-depth studies of the past to enhance understanding of the many complex matters that surround contemporary thinking and practice regarding mental health and illness. Over the last decades, Institute faculty have made critical contributions to debates surrounding matters like de-institutionalization, the history of the mind-brain problem, stereotyping, the scientific status of psychoanalysis, and the conceptual origins of different forms of mental illness.
Directed since 1996 by the scholar and psychiatrist Dr. George Makari, the Institute has branched out beyond history to foster studies at the interface of the “psy” sciences and the humanities, including explorations of the arts, medical ethics, and mental health policy. Under the guidance of Dr. Megan Wolff, the Institute hosts speakers and issues fact sheets on pressing mental health issues that face us today, from the opiate overdose crisis to the incarceration of the mentally ill.
The Institute is home to the Oskar Diethelm Library, the library of record for American psychiatry and one of the greatest such collections in the world. Initiated in 1936 by Dr. Oskar Diethelm, the collection now includes approximately 35,000 volumes in Latin, English, German, French and more, and is under the stewardship of Marisa Shaari, MLIS.
The Institute is also host to the Richardson History of Psychiatry Research Seminar, the longest running colloquium of its type in the United States. It convenes working groups that bring together researchers in specific domains, such as the impact of psychiatry on society, a speaker series on Mental Health Policy, and various educational activities for students.
Please click on the following link to visit the Institute's website and extensive online library: