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William Battie

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William Battie was a physician who published in 1758 the first lengthy book on the treatment of mental illness, 'A Treatise on Madness’, and by extending methods of treatment to the poor as well as the affluent, helped raise psychiatry to a respectable specialty. He was the first and only psychiatrist to become President of the Royal College of Physicians. He is the origin of the slang term 'battie'.

He was born in 1704, the son of a vicar. He studied at Eton and King’s College, Cambridge. Being unable to afford a legal training he ‘diverted his attention to physic’ and practised for a short time in Cambridge. After practising for many years in the field of psychiatry in London, he acquired two private 'madhouses' near St. Luke’s, from which he gained a handsome income. His appointment at St. Luke’s gave him a firm base upon which to consolidate his reputation.

He died following a stroke in 1776 and was buried alongside his wife in Kingston, Surrey.


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