Hidden from history? The psychiatric treatment of lesbians and bisexual women

Mental Health and Wellbeing

Bottom-up archival scoping study to identify and explore the extent and types of treatment given to lesbians and bisexual women in the UK mental health system from 1952 until 1990.

Aversiontherapy drawing by Dolly Sen
Aversiontherapy drawing by Dolly Sen

Project goals:

  • Provide a preliminary analysis of the extent and types of treatment received by lesbian, bisexual and gender non-conforming women in the UK mental health system.
  • Complement recent hidden histories of the psychiatric treatment of gay, bisexual and non-gender conforming men.
  • Include the experiences of lesbian, bisexual and gender-non conforming women in psychiatric survivor history.


  • Scoping and researching relevant LGBT, women's and mental health archives;
  • Identifying relevant LGBT and relevant mental health testimonies, memoirs and autobiographical material;
  • Developing partnerships with older LGBT and mental health service user organisations to collaborate in further research.

Project Lead

Professor Helen Spandler

Collaborators and Partners

Dr. Sarah Carr

Public Outputs

All our public outputs are open access.

Spandler, H, & Carr, S. (2022). Lesbian and bisexual women's experiences of aversion therapy in England. History of the Human Sciences 

Spandler, H. (2020) ‘The shocking ‘treatment’ to make lesbians straight’. Welcome Collection Stories.

Spandler, H, Carr, S. (2020) 'A history of lesbian politics and the psy professions'. Feminism and Psychology

Research Grouping

Research Theme/Institute/Centre

Expertise and Subject area

  • Mental Health and Wellbeing
  • Social Work and Social Policy
  • Care and Community


Wellcome Trust: Seed Award in Humanities and Social Science (funder)



Social Media

Twitter: @hspandler@SchrebersSister