Publication Details

Kaplan, R. M. (2015). Psychiatric tourists in pre-war Europe: the visits of Reg Ellery and Aubrey Lewis. International Journal of Humanities Social Sciences and Education, 2 (11), 78-87.


After 1936, psychiatry in Europe was going through a turbulent phase. The new physical treatments heralded a long-awaited breakthrough. However, political developments seriously affected the practice of psychiatry in Germany, Austria and the Soviet Union; in other countries, the situation was little better. It was widely recognised that a new war was looming. At this time, their trips almost overlapping, two psychiatrists did an extensive tour of European facilities. One was the prominent Maudsley psychiatrist Aubrey Lewis; the other was Reg Ellery, largely unknown outside his native Melbourne. The reports of both men were, for various reasons, ignored until recently. This paper looks at the trip taken by the two psychiatrists and their different perspectives on what they found. Lewis was largely unimpressed with what he saw. Ellery sought out facilities to learn the new treatments. Both were acutely aware of the impending war, but Ellery, a communist enthusiast, was completely taken in by what he saw the Soviet Union. The trip only confirmed Lewis's prejudices but Ellery was soon to institute the new treatments that he saw, thereby maintaining his role as an innovator in Australian psychiatry.