The RANZCP Section of Philosophy and Humanities is for members with an interest in psychiatric history, philosophy and ethics.


This Section aims to:

  • promote the objectives of the College relating to the history, philosophy and ethics of psychiatry
  • advance the study, research and understanding of the history, philosophy and ethics of psychiatry
  • promote a clear appreciation of the history of psychiatry, and the philosophical tenets that underpin it, given their relevance to clinical, educative, legal, ethical and administrative aspects of psychiatry
  • advise on the history of The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists.

History, philosophy and ethics of psychiatry

The Section of Philosophy and Humanities has its origins in a 1992 series of seminars in Sydney on the philosophy of psychiatry. These were organised by Fellows Dr Jeanette Martin and Dr Stephanie Winfield.

In 1995 the Bi-national Group had its inaugural presentation at the RANZCP Annual Congress in Hobart. In 2005, General Council approved the expansion the scope of the Group to include the history of psychiatry.

The Group has held local meetings in Sydney, and Bi-national meetings at a Blue Mountains resort and at all recent Annual RANZCP Congresses.

Internationally, there are well established clinical and academic sub-disciplines in the history of psychiatry and in the philosophy of psychiatry. Both sub-disciplines are represented within the Royal College of Psychiatrists, the American Psychiatric Association and the World Psychiatric Association. There are several international peer-reviewed journals and myriad books devoted to these and related topics.

Our Group aims to promote both sub-disciplines within the RANZCP and throughout Australasia. Our work includes the organisation of lectures, seminars, discussion groups and other meetings relating to our clinical, and educational goals. We encourage research relevant to all these areas of interest. We maintain and foster links with organisations that pursue similar goals, whether they are based in Australasia or elsewhere.

Current committee members

The current committee can be contacted through

The Chair of the Bi-national Section Committee is A/Prof Robert Kaplan.  

The Bi-national Section Committee's Regulations outline the purpose and responsibilities of the committee.


All members of the College (including trainees and Affiliates) are eligible to join this Section. For further information on membership, please email