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Professor Daniel Pick

MA (Cambridge), PhD (Cambridge)
Professor of History

Contact details

Department of History, Classics and Archaeology
Birkbeck, University of London
Room 201
28 Russell Square

Tel: 020 7631 6347


  • Daniel Pick, professor of history and a psychoanalyst, is leading a research group at Birkbeck exploring the history of the human sciences and 'psy' professions during the Cold War.
  • He currently holds a Senior Investigator grant from the Wellcome Trust for this project, entitled  'Hidden Persuaders': Brainwashing, Culture, Clinical Knowledge and the Cold War Human Sciences, c. 1950-1990'. He welcomes doctoral applications in that field, or in his other areas of specialism.
  • Daniel Pick is also a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society and the British Psychoanalytical Society. He has written features, and contributed to a variety of radio and television programmes, and online discussions, and has presented several radio documentaries for the BBC.
  • He was the series consultant to the 25-part BBC Radio 4 series, 'In Search of Ourselves' (2014). He has written  on diverse topics in nineteenth-century, twentieth-century, and contemporary cultural and intellectual history, including debates on evolutionary theory,  the idea of degeneration, eugenics, social Darwinism, Victorian cultural attitudes to crime and madness, psychoanalytic though on  war, and militarism, dreams,  the myth of Svengali, the cult of Garibaldi, Italian nationalism, the literary representation of Rome, the fear of brainwashing,  and methodological problems associated with  psycho-biography, and the application of psychoanalytic thought to history.
  • His most recent books are
    • The Pursuit of the Nazi Mind: Hitler, Hess, and the Analysts (2012)
    • Psychoanalysis: A Very Short Introduction (2015).
    • A co-edited volume, with Matt ffytche, Psychoanalysis in the Age of Totalitarianism, was published in the New Library of Psychoanalysis in 2016.
  • Earlier publications include:
    • Rome or Death: The Obsessions of General Garibaldi (2005)
    • as editor (with Lyndal Roper), Dreams and History: The Interpretation of Dreams from Ancient Greece to Modern Psychoanalysis (2004)
    • War Machine: The Rationalisation of Slaughter in the Modern Age (1993)
    • Faces of Degeneration: A European Disorder, c. 1848-1918 (1989).
  • He is an editor of History Workshop Journal, a member of the advisory board of Psychoanalysis and History and Cambridge Studies in Nineteenth-Century Literature and Culture, and is also on the editorial board of the New Library of Psychoanalysis.

Academic background

  • Jesus College, Cambridge: English Tripos
  • King’s College, Cambridge: PhD History Faculty
  • Research Fellow, Christ’s College Cambridge
  • Lecturer, Reader and Professor at Queen Mary, University of London, before moving to his current post at Birkbeck in 2005.

Research interests

  • History of the human sciences; psychoanalysis and history; clinical psychoanalysis; nineteenth- and twentieth-century cultural history, and the history of ideas.


  • Daniel Pick has taught a variety of undergraduate and MA courses in nineteenth- and twentieth-century cultural and intellectual history. He currently teaches on the interdepartmental MA programme 'Psychoanalytic Studies' and will be running, , in the spring term of the academic year 2019-20,  a specialist MA course, linked with the ‘Hidden persuaders’ Wellcome investigator project, on the history of ideas about brainwashing

PhD supervision

  • Daniel Pick would be pleased to discuss doctoral projects in modern cultural or intellectual history, and in the history of psychoanalysis, psychiatry and the human sciences, or to consider inter-disciplinary work based in two departments at Birkbeck such as HCA and English, or HCA and Psycho-Social Studies.
  • He has wide experience of supervising and examining. Previously supervised or co-supervised theses include:
    • ‘The Inverted City: London and the Constitution of Homosexuality’ (Matt Cook)
    • ‘Consumptive Death in Victorian Literature: 1830-1880’ (Basil Meyer)
    • ‘Carlyle and the Evolutionists. A Comparative Study of “Selection” and “Survival” in Victorian culture and science’ (Nick Baker)
    • ‘Wrongful Confinement and Victorian Psychiatry, 1840-1880’ (Margaret Homberger)
    • ‘Dying for Home: the Medicine and Politics of Nostalgia in Nineteenth-Century France’ (Lisa O’Sullivan)
    • ‘Shell-shock in First World War Britain: an Intellectual and Medical History, c.1860-c.1920’ (Tracey Loughran)
    • ‘The Construction of Scientific Knowledge regarding Female “Sexual Inversion”: Italian and British Sexology Compared, c.1870 – 1920’ (Chiara Beccalossi)
    • ‘New Women and Degeneracy in the Late Nineteenth Century’ (James Lister)
    • ‘Machine Past, machine Future: Technology and British Thought 1870 –1914’ (Daniel Wilson)
    • ‘Modern Insomnia, 1860-1910’ (Lee Scrivner)
    • 'The Maternalizing Movement: Psychoanalysis, Motherhood and the British Welfare State c.1920-1950' (Shaul Bar-Haim)
    • 'The Ascent of Women: How Female Mountaineers Explored the Alps, c.1850-1900.' (Clare Roche)
    • The Representation of the Holocaust in Post-War British Culture (Danai Karydaki)
    • Battles for the Mind: Brainwashing, Altered States and the Politics of the Nervous System (1945-1970) (Charles Williams)
  • Current Doctoral Students:
    • How psychiatry and cinema helped create the notion of a 'brainwashed subject' between 1942 and 1960 (Ian Magor)
    • Mind in the Field of Vision: Film, Brainwashing and the Cold War (Katie Joice)


  • Books
  • Faces of Degeneration: A European Disorder, c. 1848-c.1918 (Cambridge University Press, 1989)
  • War Machine: The Rationalisation of Slaughter in the Modern Age (Yale University Press, 1993)
  • Edited and introduced George Du Maurier's novel Trilby for Penguin Classics (1994)
  • Svengali's Web: The Alien Enchanter in Modern Culture (Yale, 2000)
  • Co-editor (with Lyndal Roper), Dreams and History: The Interpretation of Dreams from Ancient Greece to Modern Psychoanalysis (Routledge, 2004)
  • Rome or Death: The Obsessions of General Garibaldi (Cape, 2005)
  • The Pursuit of the Nazi Mind: Hitler, Hess, and the Analysts (Oxford University Press, 2012)
  • Psychoanalysis: A Very Short Introduction, (Oxford University Press, 2015)
  • Co-editor (wih Matt ffytche), Psychoanalysis in the Age of Totalitarianism (Routledge, 2016
  • Articles and chapters
  • 'The Faces of anarchy: Lombroso and the politics of criminal science in post-unification Italy', History Workshop Journal, 21 (1986), 60-86
  • 'Terrors of the night: Dracula and "degeneration" in the late nineteenth century', Critical Quarterly, 30 (1988), 71-87
  • '"Pourquoi la guerre?" Freud, Einstein et le dix-neuvième siècle', Revue internationale d’histoire de la psychanalyse, 5 (1992), 113-128
  • 'Pro Patria: blocking the Tunnel', Ecumene: A Geographical Journal of Environment, Culture and Meaning, 1 (1994), 77-93
  • 'Freud's Group Psychology and the history of the crowd', History Workshop Journal, 40 (1995), 39-61
  • 'Stories of the Eye' in Rewriting the Self, edited by Roy Porter, (Routledge, 1996), 186-202
  • 'Powers of Suggestion: Svengali and the Fin de Siècle' in Literature, Modernism and 'the Jew', edited by Bryan Cheyette and Laura Marcus (Polity and Stanford University Press, 1998), 105-25
  • 'Degeneration', Oxford Companion to Medicine (2001), 214-217
  • 'Nevrosi di Guerra', in L'uomo e le macchine, a cura di Mimma Califano Bresciani (Olschki Press, 2002), 195-215
  • '"Roma o morte": Garibaldi, Nationalism and the Problem of Psychobiography', History Workshop Journal, 57 (2004), 1-33
  • 'Body and Will', in The Many Faces of Evolution in Europe, edited by Patrick Dassen and Mary Kemperink (Peeters, Leuven, 2005), 17-39
  • 'Degeneration', Encyclopaedia of Europe, 1789-1914, edited by John Merriman and Jay Winter (Charles Scribner's Sons, 2006), 183-7
  • 'Maladies of the Will: Freedom, Fetters and the Fear of Freud', in Medicine, Madness, and Social History: Essays in Memory of Roy Porter (Palgrave, 2007), 197-208
  • 'Dreams in contemporary psychoanalysis', Sleeping and Dreaming (Black Dog Publishing, 2007) 101-109; also in Schlaf und Traum (Böhlau, 2007), 65-73.
  • 'Il Caso Rudolfo Hess' in Conflitti, strategie di rappresentazione della guerra nella cultura contemporanea (Meltemi, 2008), 221-233
  • ‘In Pursuit of the Nazi Mind? The Deployment of Psychoanalysis in the Allied Struggle Against Germany’, Psychoanalysis and History, 11: 2 (2009) 210- 236
  • ‘Rileggere The Mismeasure of Man’, Contemporanea. Rivista di storia dell '800 e del '900, 13:2 (2010), 359-364
  • ‘Psychoanalysis, History and National Culture’ in Structures and Transformations, edited by David Feldman and Jon Lawrence (Cambridge University Press, 2011), 210-236
  • ‘The Politics of Nature: Science and Religion in the Age of Darwin’, in The Cambridge History of Nineteenth-Century Political Thought, edited by Gareth Stedman Jones and Greg Claeys (Cambridge University Press, 2011), 649-690
  • ‘Introduction’, Franco De Masi, The Enigma of the Suicide Bomber (Karnac, 2011), xvii- xxxi
  • ‘die nazi-seele im Visier? Zum einsatz der Psychoanalyse im Kampf der alliierten gegen hitler-deutschland’, Jahrbuch der Psychoanalyse Beiträge zur Theorie, Praxis und Geschichte, issue 64 (2012), 13-40
  • Edited journals
  • Co-editor, History Workshop Journal, 48 (Autumn 1999), 49 (Spring 2000), 65 (Spring 2008)
  • Co-editor (with Catherine Hall and Felix Driver), History Workshop Journal (Autumn 2017)
  • Co-written work
  • Author (with Lyndal Roper), editorial introduction, History Workshop Journal, 48 (1999)
  • Translator (with Sarah Morgan), 'Science, feminism and education: the early work of Maria Montessori' (by Valeria Babini), History Workshop Journal, 49 (2000), 44-67
  • Author (with Lyndal Roper), editorial introduction to History Workshop Journal, 49 (2000)
  • Interviewer (with Lyndal Roper), 'Psychoanalysis, Dreams, History: an interview with Hanna Segal', History Workshop Journal, 49 (2000), 163-70
  • Author (with Tristram Hunt), 'Glorious Garibaldi' BBC History Magazine (July 2007), 40-43
  • Author (With M. Rustin), 'Introduction to Quentin Skinner', International Journal of Psychoanalysis (2008), 89: 637-645
  • Author (with Marybeth Hamilton and John Howard,) editorial introduction to History Workshop Journal, 65 (2008)
  • Author (with Ian Christie), 'Hidden in Plain Sight: Uncovering the Secret History of Brainwashing - a Dialogue' in Where is History Today? New Ways of Representing the Past (ed. M. Arbeit and I. Christie), Palacký University Press, Olomouc, 2015, ch. 4. Available as a download.
  • Co-authored essay (with Catherine Hall), 'Thinking about Denial', History Workshop Journal (Autumn 2017), 1-21
  • Author (with Marcia Holmes), 'Voices Off: Stanley Milgram's Cyranoids in Historical Context', History of Human Sciences, 2019, 1-28
  • Selected essay reviews
  • 'Anatomy of Madness', International Review of Psychoanalysis, 13 (1986), 496-498
  • 'Nazism, Fantasy and Psychoanalysis', International Review of Psychoanalysis, 15 (1988), 531-534
  • 'The Crowd and the Mob', London Review of Books, (23 Nov. 1989), 20-22
  • 'Murders and Madness', History Workshop Journal, 30 (1990), 196-203
  • 'Patriotism', Australian Journal of History & Politics, 36 (1990), 413-419
  • 'Psichiatria, storia e progresso', L'Arco di Giano, 4 (1994), 173-184
  • 'On Being and Belonging', Oxford Art Journal, 21 (1998), 139-142
  • 'Born to Crime: Lombroso and Criminal Anthropology', American Historical Review American Historical Review (April 2004), 642-44
  • ‘Complex Relations’, Literary Review, December 2013-January 2014, 56-7
  • 'Minds in Tumult', Literary Review (April 2015)
  • Other publications
  • Translator of 'Joyce translates Joyce' (by Jacqueline Risset), Comparative Criticism, vol. 6 (1984), 3-21
  • Feature Article: 'The degenerating genius of the Fin de Siècle', History Today (April 1992), 17-22
  • Feature Article: '"The Geometry of War". Wyndham Lewis: Art and War', New Statesman and Society (3 July 1992), 31-2
  • Feature Article: 'A State of Siege', Royal Geographical Society Magazine, (February 1994), 27-30
  • Article for 'History at Large' series: ‘A Bitter Truth', Art and the Great War, History Workshop Journal, 39 (Spring 1995), 140-3
  • Introduction to the work of Hanna Segal, History Workshop Journal, 49 (2000), 161-63
  • 'The Id comes to Bloomsbury', Guardian (16 August 2003)
  • Roundtable Discussion, Cesare Lombroso: Gli Scienziati e la nurova Italia, edited by Silvano Montaldo, (Mutino, 2011), 239-248
  • 'Memories of Eric Hobsbawm', History Workshop Online (2012)
  • ‘Van het Klimaatfront green nieuws’, Nexus, 2013, no. 63, 119-158
  • Co-authored (with Sarah Marks), 'Lessons from the 1950s on Mind Control', The World Today, February and March 2017, pp 14-16
  • Co-authored (with Catherine Hall), 'Thinking about Denial: its impact on the climate, our politics, and the writing of history', 20 September 2017

Recent Public Lectures

  • Recent Keynote Lectures
  • ‘Hidden Persuaders: Psychoanalysis, Culture, and Politics in an Age of Extremes’, 30th Annual Melanie Klein Lectureship, California Center of Psychoanalysis (January 2019)
  • An A-Z of brainwashing’, lecture, Wende Museum,  Culver City, LA (January 2019), in response to the exhibition, ‘War of Nerves: Psychological Landscapes of Cold War’ t
  • ‘Voices Off: Stanley Milgram’s Cyranoids in Historical Context, University of California Humanities Research Institute (January 2019)
  • Keynote Lecture, ‘On the idea of Radicalization’, Psychoanalysis on Ice Conference, Reykjavik (July 2018)
  • Keynote Lecture, ‘Free Associations? Psychoanalytic History, Democracy, and the State we are In’, British Psychoanalytic Council, PP Now 2017, The Inner World and the State We Are In. (November 2017)
  • Keynote Lecture, ‘The Anxiety of Influence’, Identity, Mind and Body Conference, University College London (December 2016)

Media (Radio, Television, Podcasts, and Internet)

Professional fellowship

  • Fellow of the Royal Historical Society
  • Fellow of the British Psychoanalytical Society
  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy


  • Birkbeck Public Engagement Award for Collaboration, 2019 (with Sarah Marks, the Hidden Persuaders project, and the Derek Jarman Lab)
  • Research grants previously held from, inter alia, Wellcome Trust, Leverhulme, Royal Society, ESRC, International Psychoanalytical Association.
  • Eric T. Carlson Award for contributions to the History of Psychiatry, Cornell Medical School, 2013.
  • Birkbeck Award for Innovation in Teaching, 2009 (with Matt Cook, for the Deviance, Disorder and the Self Website)

Current activities

  • Daniel Pick currently holds a Senior Investigator grant from the Wellcome Trust for this project, entitled  'Hidden Persuaders': Brainwashing, Culture, Clinical Knowledge and the Cold War Human Sciences, c. 1950-1990'. Details can be found on the project website. This project asks why 'brainwashing' erupted into public consciousness in the postwar period and investigates where such practices and cultural fears led.
  • Daniel Pick’s recent research has focused on the history of fascism and the human sciences. His book, The Pursuit of the Nazi Mind, published by Oxford University Press in 2012, explores the diverse ways in which psychoanalysis was mobilized in the Allied struggle against the Third Reich. A website containing selected documents from this research can be accessed here. This project was funded by the Wellcome Trust (2009-11), and received additional support from the International Psychoanalytical Association.  Daniel Pick is on the editorial boards of History Workshop Journal and Psychoanalysis and History, and also of the book series, Cambridge Studies in Nineteenth-Century Literature and Culture, and The New Library of Psychoanalysis.