The life and work of Thomas Laycock (1812-1876)
Following an introduction giving the reasons for writing on Thomas Laycock, there are two chapters of personal biography making use of his unpublished personal Journal. An account is then given of his papers on hysteria and the thinking which led from hysteria to reflex brain function. Next a chapter is devoted to Laycock's writings on public health and his involvement with Edwin Chadwick in the preparation for the City of York of The Report on the state of Large Towns and Populous Districts. Laycock always had a special interest in medical psychology and extended reflex action to explain some of the phenomena of mental illness and memory. An account is also given of his various other writings related to psychiatry. He was aware that extending reflex function to the brain would result in various philosophical and theological problems and Laycock's opinions are given on these issues together with a brief account of his classical work Mind and Brain. Having a great interest in medical psychology, also being a lecturer at the York Medical School and later Professor of the Practice of Physic at Edinburgh, it was natural he should be a pioneer in the teaching of the subject. Many fascinating ideas are to be found in Laycock's writings on general medicine, especially his use of neurology to explain oedema and certain types of pulmonary disease. A trophic nervous system was thought to cause tissue pathology which was a reversion to a lower evolutionary type. In his last decade Laycock wrote consolidating many of his previous ideas but attempted to bring these into line with then current scientific advances. A selection of his unpublished writings is examined in the same chapter. In his lifetime Laycock was not an influential person but he impressed a few of his more able students, several of whom were to become professionally distinguished. The careers of these are described. After some conclusions a bibliography, with notes. is provided of published and unpublished works used in this thesis.