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Dr Niall McCrae: The moon and madness: Myth, metaphysics and science

Anomalistic Psychology Research Unit Invited Speaker Series, 2012/13


Lunacy, the legendary notion of minds unhinged by the moon, continues to captivate the popular imagination. Although it violates the assumptions of modern science and psychiatry, such belief remains common among mental health workers. Furthermore, several studies have found a small, unexplained correlation between behaviour and the lunar cycle. Dr Niall McCrae presents a historical account of the lunacy concept, followed by discussion of hypothetical mechanisms and indications for further research.

Niall McCrae PhD, MSc, RMN is a lecturer in mental health at King’s College London. His publications include several journal articles and book chapters on the social history of psychiatry and mental health care. His book The Moon and Madness (Imprint Academic, 2011) has been widely reviewed and he has also presented his research on this topic on the BBC Radio 4 series All in the Mind. Niall is currently writing a history of the mental hospitals in Britain, from nurses’ perspectives.

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Week beginning 20th November
November 2012

Content last modified: 28 Nov 2014

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