Nicola Sugden


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Winnicott’s Worlds: A History of Psychoanalysis and Childhood in Britain, c.1920 – 1975


My research explores the development of child psychoanalysis in mid-Twentieth century Britain through the work of psychoanalyst and paediatrician D.W. Winnicott (1896-1971). I am particularly interested in exploring the interrelations between Winnicott’s work in children’s hospitals and in psychoanalytic practice; understanding the practical limits of child psychoanalysis in post-war London; accounting for the status of psychoanalysis as a contested discipline within science, medicine, psychiatry, and paediatrics; and tracing the fortunes of psychoanalytically-informed ideas and practices in medicine and social work during the establishment of the NHS and modern British welfare state.


Psychoanalysis, Psychology, Psychiatry, Madness, Anti-Psychiatry, Childhood, Paediatrics, Hospitals, NHS, Child and Adolescent Mental Health, Health Policy and Governance, Childhood, Family, Gender, Sexuality, Reproduction, Sociology, Social Theory, Political Theory, Philosophy of Science, Sociology of Scientific Knowledge, Science and Technology Studies, Philosophy of Play, Political Philosophy, Modernity, Twentieth-Century Britain.

Previous Study

I have a BA in Modern History and Politics from Balliol College, University of Oxford (Thesis: ‘Women and the Advocacy of Birth Control and Abortion in Interwar Britain’) and an MSc in the History and Philosophy of Science from University College London (Dissertation: ‘“How can men be mothers?!” Reproductive Technology and Gender Identity in ‘Woman on the Edge of Time’’).

Published Work

Presentations Given

  • ‘”Habeas Cerebrum”: Donald Winnicott and the Physical Therapy Controversies in the British Medical Press, 1943-1956’, European Society for the History of Science Biennial Conference (2018), British Society for the History of Science Postgraduate Conference (2018)
  • ‘”No one could be found to undertake the onerous task of daily taking the child to and fro”: childhood, mobility, and the development of child psychoanalysis in mid-Twentieth Century Britain’, Social History Society Annual Conference (2018); Children’s History Society Annual Conference (2018)
  • ‘”A Child-Psychiatrist Who Cannot Bear to Leave Paediatrics”: Donald Winnicott at Paddington Green Children’s Hospital’, British Society for the History of Science Annual Conference (2017); Lancaster University Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences Summer Conference (2017)
  • ‘Winnicott in Postwar London’, Royal College of Psychiatrists History of Psychiatry Special Interest Group (2016)

Teaching & Other Experience

I have acted as Graduate Teaching Assistant on the undergraduate courses ‘Madness and Society in the Modern Age, 1780 – 2000’ and ‘Making of the Modern Mind: European Intellectual History in a Global Context’.

I am the Communications Officer at the British Society for the History of Science.

I work part-time as an NHS administrator in Patient and Public Involvement and Engagement.