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Book and Media Reviews
March 11, 2009

Madness to Mental Illness: A History of the Royal College of Psychiatrists

JAMA. 2009;301(10):1075-1076. doi:10.1001/jama.2009.271

To a proud republic, the idea of a royal medical college must seem a quaint idea. The French did away with theirs after the revolution, but in Britain (and by default the Commonwealth) this is still the format for those organizations that oversee and license postgraduate medical education in a variety of specialties. Think “boards,” and you are heading toward familiar territory. The ur-royal college in England is the Royal College of Physicians (practitioners of internal medicine), dating from 1518. The Royal College of Surgeons followed, in 1800. Because medicine in Britain was slow to specialize, the majority of the other colleges have been established in the later 20th and 21st centuries.