The neurologists

A history of a medical specialty in modern Britain, c.1789–2000

By Stephen Casper

The neurologists


  • Paperback
  • eBook

Book Information

  • Format: Hardcover
  • ISBN: 978-0-7190-9192-6
  • Pages: 288
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £75.00
  • Published Date: June 2014
  • BIC Category: HISTORY / General, Neurology & Clinical Neurophysiology, Medicine / History of medicine, Humanities / History, History, Neurology & clinical neurophysiology, History of medicine, History, MEDICAL / History, MEDICAL / Neurology


The neurologists describes how Victorian physicians located in a medical culture that privileged general knowledge over narrow specialism came to be transformed into the specialised physicians we now call neurologists. Relying entirely upon hitherto unseen primary sources drawn from archives across Britain, Europe and North America, this book analyses the emergence of neurology in the context of the development of modern medicine in Britain. The neurologists thus surveys the patterns of change and modernisation that influenced British medical culture throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. In so doing, it ultimately seeks an account of how neurological knowledge acquired such an expansive view of human nature as to become concerned in the last decades of the twentieth century with the human sciences, philosophy, art and literature.


'An important contribution to our understanding of specialization in medicine. Casper's carefully researched and lucidly argued study presents an illuminating picture of the way in which British neurology developed an intellectual and ultimately institutional identity separate from that of elite medicine generally. It is a complex and nuanced story that cannot be explained by technological innovation or market incentives alone.'
Charles Rosenberg, Harvard University

'A most substantial and illuminating contribution, not only to the history of neurology, but also to our understanding of scientific-medical disciplines and the relationship of science to its broader context. Casper uses the confusing and often contradictory usages of the words "neurology" and "neurologist" by historical actors in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries as points of departure for a convincing and richly contextualized historical account of neurology and the dynamics of specialization.'
Professor Daniel Todes, The Johns Hopkins University|This book is an able work of scholarship. [...] It is an impressive and cogent analysis with a persuasive aura throughout of attention to detail. I commend it warmly.
, John Walton (Lord Walton of Detchant), Brain: A Journal of Neurology, Book Review, 26 August 2014|The neurologists, a history of a medical speciality in modern Britain, c.1789-2000 is the title of a hardback by Stephen T Casper (I(SBN 978-0-7190-9192-6) published by Manchester University Press. Several recent books on the history of the neurosciences have appeared but this volume differs particularly in that it deals with the speciality in Britain and shows the evolution from the early areas of general medicine through specialisation, to the early clinicians at the turn of the 1800s into the 1900s, the war years and the separation from psychiatry, to the first specialists in the National Health Service, to the generation now reaching retirement age, and to those who are deep in the science and who have not known the era before satisfactory imaging, neurophysiology and neurochemistry. A long evolution and a fascinating story. Casper comments 'while many physicians and scientists have engaged with the history of their fields, I think there are few academic disciplines or clinical specialities where that is so especially the case as it is for neurology'., Journal of Medical Biography, Nov issue, 12 June 2015

'The book is thoughtful about its theme and supported with a wealth of historical detail based on archival records; and it engages with a wide range of secondary literature.'
Roger Smith, Moscow (RU), Gesnerus 73/2 (2016)

'Casper provides a marvellous and perceptive analysis of the need to understand past conflicts, contrasts, and alliances between specialist groups in their own terms.'
Tara H. Abraham, Department of History, University of Guelph, Journal of the History of the Neurosciences, June 2017


Stephen T. Casper is Assistant Professor in History of Science at Clarkson University


Introduction: from physician to neurologist
1. Physicians in neurological societies: neurologists in general medical societies
2. World War I and the transformation of neurology
3. Neurology in interwar Britain
4. Neurology and state medicine
5. The integrative legacy of contemporary neurology

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