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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
27 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'. Details can be found on the project website: 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, twentieth, 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) and Psychoanalysis: A Very Short Introduction (2015). A co-edited volume, with Matt ffytche, Psychoanalysis in the Age of Totalitarianism, will appear 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) andFaces 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: Ph.D. 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 and teaching

  • Research interests
    History of the human sciences; psychoanalysis and history; clinical psychoanalysis; nineteenth- and twentieth-century cultural history, and the history of ideas.
  • Teaching
  • Daniel Pick has taught a variety of courses in nineteenth- and twentieth-century cultural and intellectual history. Recent undergraduate courses include ‘Deviance, Disorder and the Self’ and ‘Visions of the Mind in the Age of Extremes’; MA courses include ‘Degeneration’ and ‘Psychoanalysis and Fascism’. He has co-edited with Matthew Cook a primary source archive of nineteenth-century documents called 'Deviance, Disorder and the Self'. Daniel has also edited the archive ‘The Pursuit of the Nazi Mind’.
  • Daniel Pick is senior tutor for doctoral students in the department of History, Classics and Archaeology and co-convenes the MA programme, ‘Psychoanalysis, History and Culture’.
  • 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)
  • Current Doctoral Students:
  • The Representation of the  Holocaust in Post-War British Culture (Danai Karydaki)
  • 'Abnormal Conditioning': brainwashing, mind control and psychiatry (Charles Williams)
  • 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)



  • In Pursuit of the Nazi Mindintroduction.jpegPsychoanalysis in the Age of Totalitarianism
  • 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. Link:
  • '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-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)
  • 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
  • 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


Media (Radio, Television, Podcasts, and Internet)

  • Presenter, ‘Tunnel Vision: Nineteenth-century Fears of the Tunnel’, Scripted Talk, Radio 3 (1989)
  • Contributor, ‘Centenary of Hedda Gabler’, BBC World Service Arts Programme (1991)
  • Presenter, 'War Machine', Scripted Talk - perceptions of war in modern culture, Radio 3 (1991)
  • Contributor, 'The Avant-Garde and the Great War', Night Waves, Radio 3 (1993)
  • Contributor, War Machine, in history of technology white Heat’ Series, BBC2 (1994)
  • Contributor, 'Fin de Siècle', the Late Show, BBC2 (1994)
  • Contributor, Fin de Siècles series, Radio 4 (1994)
  • Contributor, Documentary on Dracula, (Japanese television), NHK (1995)
  • Contributor, ‘Britain, the Tunnel and Fears of Invasion’, That’s History, Radio 4 (1995)
  • Contributor, ‘Svengali’, Nightwaves, Radio 3 (2000)
  • Contributor, ‘Svengali’, Giles Brandreth Show, LBC Radio (2000)
  • Contributor ‘Svengali’, Brian Morton Show, BBC Radio Scotland (2000)
  • Interviews with Hanna Segal and Betty Joseph on the history of British Psychoanalysis, Melanie Klein Trust (2001) Link:
  • Contributor, ‘Evil’, Channel Four (2002)
  • Contributor, ‘Time of Death’, Nightwaves, Radio 3 (2002)
  • Interview with Ronald Britton, ‘A Personal History in Psychoanalysis’, THERIP (2003)
  • Contributor, ‘Offenbach: Music and Mesmerism’, Radio 3 (2004)
  • Consultant, ‘The Mind of Hitler’, Time Watch, BBC2(2005)
  • Contributor, ‘The Body in Politics’, DVD, in Living Political Ideas, series Open University (2008)
  • Contributor, ‘Brave New World’, In Our Time (April 2009)
  • Presenter, ‘The Psychiatrist and the Deputy Führer’, Radio 4 Documentary, (9 April 2012)
  • Presenter, ‘The psychiatrist and Rudolph Hess’, Witness, BBC World Service (9May 2012)
  • Contributor, ‘Crowd Psychology’, Radio 3 (24 June 2012)
  • Contributor, The WolfMan DVD, SelfMade Hero (2012)
  • Co-editor (with Matthew Cook), 'Deviance, Disorder and the Self', a primary source archive of nineteenth-century documents and teaching resource, Birkbeck College.
  • Reflections on Fascism and the History of Psychoanalysis’, Beyond the Couch, The Institute of Psychoanalysis (24 October 2012)
  • Editor, ‘The Pursuit of the Nazi Mind’, archive, Birkbeck College.
  • Series consultant, 'In Search of Ourselves', Radio 4, 25 part series (2014)
  • Presenter, ‘The Roots of Extremism’, BBC Radio 4 (March 2014)
  • Interview with Robert J Lifton on psychohistory and studies of war at the Psychoanalysis and History in the Postwar Period: A New York Area Consortium for Intellectual and Cultural History Conference, The Heyman Center, Columbia University, NY (4th-5th April 2014).
  • Interviews
  • (F. Marcoaldi): 'Il buco nell'acqua' , La Repubblica (6 February 1994), 10
  • (R. Chiaberge): 'Pensieri di Guerra', Corriere della Sera, (31 October 1994), 'Cultura' section, 1
  • (E. Van Neygen): 'Britse historicus Daniel Pick over oorlog, tunnelvrees en Freud, Psychoanalysis and History', De Standaard (28 December, 1998), 13-14
  • (Hugh Costello), 'Hitler on the Couch', BBC History Magazine (September 2005)
  • (Gianni Carta) Freud and Le Livre noir de la psycanalyse, CartaCapital (12 October 2005)
  • (Daniel Postico), ‘En la mente de los Nazis’, El Mundo (22 April 2012)
  • (David Keys), ‘The Madness of Rudolf Hess’, BBC History Magazine (April 2012), pp. 12-13
  • (Keith Moore), ‘Rudolf Hess’, BBC News Magazine, Online (April 2012)
  • (Chrissie Giles), ‘Analysing the Nazi Mind’, Wellcome News (summer 2012), 30-31
  • (Toby Ash) ‘On Nazism and Psychoanalysis’, The Browser (June 2012)
  • (Diego Zúñiga), ‘El investigador Daniel Pick lanzará obra con estudios psicoanalíticos del nazismo: Profesor saca a luz papeles que desentrañan mente de Hitler’, Las Ultimas Noticias (10 June 2012)
  • (Pete Price), ‘The Pursuit of the Nazi Mind’, City Talk (24 June 2012)
  • The Pursuit of the Nazi Mind’, Faith Radio (22 July 2012)
  • ‘The Pursuit of the Nazi Mind’, Newstalk Radio (7 August 2012)
  • ‘The Pursuit of the Nazi Mind’, Dublin City FM (13August 2012)
  • (Ana Muhar), ‘Britanci psihoanalizon zarobljenog Hitlerova zamjenika nastojali dobiti rat’, Jutarnji List (18 August 2012)
  • Counterpoint’, New Zealand Public Radio (November 2012)
  • 'The Pursuit of the Nazi Mind', How to Change the World?, Nexus Conference (December 2012)
  • 'The Pursuit of the Nazi Mind', Faith Middleton Show, (June 2013)
  • Wat er geweest zal zijn: Interview met Daniel Pick’, by Arthur Eaton and Helmer Stoel, Skript (2013), vol. 35, no. 2, 121-27
  • (Mishal Hussain), ‘The Contemporary Popularity of Mein Kampf’, Today, BBC Radio 4 (January 11 2014)
  • ‘On Mein Kampf’, 5 Live Breakfast, Radio 5 (January 11 2014)
  • (Kate Arkless Gray), ‘Researcher Spotlight: Professor Daniel Pick’, Wellcome Trust Blog (June 30 2014).


Professional fellowship

  • Fellow of the Royal Historical Society
  • Fellow of the British Psychoanalytical Society



  • 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.


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 at: 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.