Edward Shorter

Professor & Hannah Chair in the History of Medicine, Faculty of Medicine
263 McCaul Street, Room 408


Faculty of Medicine
Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Technology (IHPST)

Fields of Study

Areas of Interest

Social history of medicine, obstetrics, gynaecology, psychiatry, psychopharmacology; history of the family; history of sexuality.


A social historian of medicine and clinical science, Professor Shorter has published widely in this field, including histories of obstetrics and gynaecology (Women’s Bodies), the doctor-patient relationship (Doctors and Their Patients), psychosomatic illness (From Paralysis to Fatigue), and sexuality (Written in the Flesh: A History of Desire). He is also the author of Partnership for Excellence: Medicine at the University of Toronto and Academic Hospitals (2013), which traces the evolution of Toronto’s academic health science network.

Since 1991 Shorter’s primary appointment has been in the Faculty of Medicine, where he holds the Jason A. Hannah Chair in the History of Medicine. Since then he has emerged as an internationally recognized historian of psychiatry and the author of numerous books on the evolution of the discipline, including A History of Psychiatry (1997); Before Prozac (2009); and How Everyone Became Depressed (2013). In 1996 he was cross-appointed as a Professor of Psychiatry. His latest book, The Madness of Fear: A History of Catatonia (2018), co-written with Dr. Max Fink, provides an accurate understanding of the symptoms and treatments for an illness that has long been hidden under other diagnoses.

 Professor Shorter is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada.


PhD, Harvard University