Mary Barkas

Drawing of Mary Barkas in 1924.

Mary Rushton Barkas (1889 - 1959 or 1961)[1][2] was a psychiatrist and physician, who worked at the Bethlem Royal Hospital, where she was the first female house physician, and the Maudsley Hospital in London, United Kingdom.

Early life

Mary Rushton Barkas was born in 1889 in Christchurch, New Zealand, to Frederick Barkas, who worked at the New Zealand Loan and Mercantile Agency Company, and Amy Barkas née Parker. She studied at Victoria University College in Wellington, graduating with a BSc in 1908, and an MSc in 1910, and later studied under Carl Jung at King's College London.[1][2][3] During the First World War, she studied medicine at St Mary's Hospital and the London School of Medicine for Women, graduating in 1918.[1] In 1922, Barkas travelled to Vienna to study for a graduate diploma, where she worked under Otto Rank.[1]


In 1919, Barkas became the first female house physician at the Bethlem Royal Hospital.[1][4] In 1923, Barkas was one of four full-time psychiatrists employed at the newly opened Maudsley Hospital, and she worked there until 1927. Her work focused upon organic psychiatry, psychoanalysis and child psychiatry, and she described the hospital as "shelter and refuge" which offered "complete protection and satisfaction of all needs."[5][6][7] From 1928 to 1933, Barkas worked as a Medical Superintendent at the The Lawn Hospital in Lincoln.[1][2] In this role, Barkas helped to reduce the expenditure of the hospital.[8]

After her father Frederick died in 1932, Mary retired and returned to New Zealand. She moved to Tapu, and studied Chinese philosophy.[1][2][6] In 1937, she wrote the feminist book Wages for Wives, which challenged the stereotypical views of working women in New Zealand.[9] In the same year, she was one of 15 psychologists who provided references for Arthur Segal's application for a British work permit.[10]


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 "Mary Barkas (1889-1959)". Psychoanalytikerinnen. Retrieved 19 November 2016.
  2. 1 2 3 4 Barkas, Frederick (1922–1932). "Barkas, Frederick, 1854-1932 : Barkas family scrapbooks and papers favourite". Retrieved 19 November 2016 via National Library of New Zealand.
  3. Hughes, Beryl (January 1993). Redbrick and Bluestockings: Women at Victoria, 1899-1993. Victoria University Press. p. 21. Retrieved 19 November 2016.
  4. Andrews, Jonathan; Briggs, Asa; Porter, Roy; Tucker, Penny; Waddington, Keir (June 2013). The History of Bethlem. Routledge. p. 620. Retrieved 19 November 2016.
  5. "William Dawson at the Maudsley". Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists. October 2013: 505. Retrieved 19 November 2016.
  6. 1 2 Kaplan, Robert M. (1 March 2016). "Mary Barkas: a New Zealand pioneer at the Maudsley". Irish Journal of Psychological Medicine. Retrieved 19 November 2016.
  7. Evans, Bonnie; Jones, Edgar (May 2012). "ORGAN EXTRACTS AND THE DEVELOPMENT OF PSYCHIATRY: HORMONAL TREATMENTS AT THE MAUDSLEY HOSPITAL 1923–1938". John Wiley & Sons: 251–276. Retrieved 19 November 2016.
  8. "Cost to Patients". Lincolnshire Echo. 22 April 1932. p. 5. Retrieved 19 November 2016 via British Newspaper Archive. (subscription required (help)).
  9. Macdonald, Charlotte (1993). The Vote, the Pill and the Demon Drink: A History of Feminist Writing in New Zealand, 1869-1993. Bridget Williams Books. pp. 113–114. Retrieved 19 November 2016.
  10. Wiltshire, Imogen (January 2013). "Painting as Psychotherapy: Arthur Segal's Painting School for Professionals and Non-Professionals (1937-1944)" (PDF) (pdf). pp. 1–2. Retrieved 19 November 2016.
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