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Dr Sarah Marks

BA (UCL), MRes (UCL), MA (UCL), PhD (UCL)
Postdoctoral Researcher

Contact details

Department of History, Classics and Archaeology
Birkbeck, University of London
Malet Street



  • Sarah Marks is a post-doctoral researcher working with the Wellcome Trust-funded Hidden Persuaders group []. Her research focuses on the history of the psychiatry, psychology and psychoanalysis during the Cold War, especially in the Soviet sphere. She has also written on the history of psychotherapies in both East and West, including cognitive and behavioural therapies in Britain; and the history of the psy-professions in Czechoslovakia and East Germany. She was awarded her PhD from UCL in 2015, and held a research fellowship at Murray Edwards College, University of Cambridge before joining Birkbeck in October 2016.
  • Her current research reconstructs the ways in which mental health and illness were understood and treated in the Communist context, how psy-professionals interacted with the regime, and how psychological knowledge became useful for the project of building socialism. She also explores the legacies of this for post-socialist mental health policy and reform. This research underpins the monograph she is currently completing, provisionally entitled Captive Minds: Madness, Mind Control and Mental Health in Cold War Czechoslovakia.
  • Sarah has taught, supervised and examined on various topics in History, Politics, East European Studies, and Science and Technology Studies at Birkbeck, the University of Cambridge, St. Mary’s University and UCL. Her research has been taken up by the WHO Regional Office in Europe, BBC Radio’s Archive on 4,The Wellcome Collection, and the British Psychological Society. She is also Reviews Editor for History of the Human Sciences, for whom she also serves as an editorial board member.
  • In 2018-19 she will be collaborating with Professor Daniel Pick and the Hidden Persuaders research group, Birkbeck’s Derek Jarman Lab, the Freud Museum, and north London schools on a public engagement project with funding from the Wellcome Trust. This will lead to an exhibition and a series of film-making workshops and screenings on ideas about brainwashing and hidden persuasion in history, science and culture.


  • Journal articles
  • ‘The Romani Minority, Coercive Sterilizations, and Languages of Denial in the Czech Lands’, History Workshop Journal, 84, Autumn 2017, pp. 128-148
  • ‘Suggestion, Persuasion and Work: Psychotherapies in Communist Europe’, European Journal of Psychotherapy and Counselling, 20:1 2018
  • ‘Psychotherapy in Historical Perspective’, History of the Human Sciences, 30:2, 2017, pp. 3-16 doi: 10.1177/0952695117703243
  • 'From Experimental Psychosis to Resolving Traumatic Pasts: Psychedelic Research in Communist Czechoslovakia, 1954-1974', Cahiers du monde russe, 56:1, 2015, pp. 53-75
  • Edited Book
  • (edited with Mat Savelli) Psychiatry in Communist Europe (Palgrave, 2015)
  • Journal Special Issues
  • ‘Psychotherapy in Historical Perspective’ special issue of History of the Human Sciences, 30:2, 2017
  • ‘Psychotherapy in Europe’ special issue of History of the Human Sciences, 31:4, 2018,
  • Book chapters
  • (co-authored with Mat Savelli and Melissa Ricci) ‘Historical Perspectives on Madness and Mental lllness’ in Mat Savelli, James Gillett and Gavin J. Andrews (eds) An Introduction to Mental Health and Illness. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2019). In press.
  • (co-authored with Mat Savelli) 'Communist Europe and Transnational Psychiatry' in Mat Savelli and Sarah Marks (eds) Psychiatry in Communist Europe (Palgrave, 2015)
  • 'Ecology, Humanism and Mental Health in Communist Czechoslovakia' in Mat Savelli and Sarah Marks (eds) Psychiatry in Communist Europe (Palgrave, 2015)
  • 'Psychologists as Therapists: Behavioural Traditions' in John Hall, David Pilgrim and Graham Turpin (eds) Clinical Psychology in Britain: Historical Perspectives (British Psychological Society, 2015)
  • 'CBT in Britain: Historical Development and Contemporary Situation' in Windy Dryden (ed.) Cognitive Behaviour Therapies (London: Sage, 2012)
  • Policy report
  • (contributor) WHO Regional Office in Europe, ‘Culture and Reform of Mental Health Care in Central and Eastern Europe.’ Geneva: World Health Organization, 2018.
  • Writing for a popular audience
  • ‘What difference has the opening of the archives since 1991 made to the historiography of Communism and the Cold War?’ in Jessica Reinisch and David Brydan (eds) Exploring and Teaching Twentieth Century History. (The Historical Association, 2019) In press.
  • (co-authored with Charlie Williams and Daniel Pick) ‘The Hidden Persuaders’ 6-part digital series, The Wellcome Collection
  • (co-authored with Daniel Pick) ‘Radicalization: Lessons on Mind Control from the 1950s’ The World Today, February 2017.
  • Book reviews
  • ‘Review of Leslie Topp. Freedom and the Cage: Modern Architecture and Psychiatry in Central Europe, 1890-1914.’ Social History of Medicine. In press.
  • ‘Review of Ana Antic. Therapeutic Fascism: Experiencing the Violence of the Nazi New Order in Yugoslavia.’ Social History of Medicine, 31:1 (2018), pp. 661-663
  • ‘Review of Mitchell Ash and Jan Surman (eds) Ash, Mitchell G. and Jan Surman. The Nationalization of Scientific Knowledge in the Habsburg Empire, 1848-1918.’ Central Europe, 14 (2016), pp. 72-74
  • 'Review of Volker Roelcke, Paul Weindling and Louise Westwood (eds), International Relations in Psychiatry: Britain, Germany and the United States to World War II' Social History of Medicine, 25 (2012) pp. 552-553
  • Blog Posts
  • ‘On UFOs and the Cold War Human Sciences: An Interview with Greg Eghigian’, Hidden Persuaders Blog, 20th November 2017
  • ‘Brainwashing in Communist Czechoslovakia – And After’, Hidden Persuaders Blog, 6th September 2017
  • ‘Across the Iron Curtain’, Hidden Persuaders Blog, 10th May 2017
  • ‘On the Unexamined Presence of Psychotherapeutics: An Interview with Sarah Marks’, History of the Human Sciences Blog, 4th May 2017
  • 'Psychotherapy Across the Atlantic', History of the Human Sciences Blog, 21st December 2018,

Professional membership

  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy
  • Affiliated Scholar, Department of History & Philosophy of Sciences, University of Cambridge
  • Reviews editor and editorial board member, History of the Human Sciences
  • Section Editor for Central and Eastern Europe, H-Madness Blog
  • Member of the Association for Slavic, East European and Eurasian Studies
  • Member of the British Association for Slavonic and East European Studies
  • Member of the British Society for the History of Science


  • Funding awards from the Wellcome Trust, Arts and Humanities Research Council, Economic and Social Research Council, German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), Institute of Historical Research, British Psychological Society, and German History Society.

Psychiatry in Communist Europe