Home Events

Phobias and Manias with Kate Summerscale and Stephen Grosz

  • Free
  • Discussion
  • Speech-to-text
Head and shoulders portrait of Kate Summerscale who  has shoulder length blonde hair and is looking up and off camera.
Kate Summerscale. © Fran Monks.

What you’ll do

Join author Kate Summerscale in conversation with psychoanalyst Stephen Grosz, tracing the personal and historical origins of our obsessive anxieties.  

From arachnophobia (spiders) to oniomania (shopping), our phobias and manias are intimate, yet forged by the times we live in. They are the commonest form of anxiety disorder but rarely given a formal diagnosis. Kate Summerscale and Stephen Grosz explore where they come from, what triggers them, and when they were first identified – or invented.

This event was inspired by ‘The Book of Phobias and Manias’ by Kate Summerscale. It took place in our building and was livestreamed on Wellcome Collection’s YouTube channel.

The event was rescheduled from 10 November 2022.



Need to know


We’ll be in the Reading Room on level 2. You can walk up the spiral staircase to the Reading Room door, or take the lift up and then head left from the Library Desk.

Place not guaranteed

Booking a ticket for a free event does not guarantee you a place. You should aim to arrive 15 minutes before the event is scheduled to start to claim your place. If you do not arrive on time, your place may be given to someone on the waiting list.

Waiting list

If this event is fully booked, you may still be able to attend. We will operate a waiting list, which opens 30 minutes before this event starts. Arrive early, and we’ll give you a numbered ticket. If there are any unfilled places just before the start time, we will invite you to enter in order of ticket number.


Booking a ticket guarantees you entry to the online event. You will be given joining instructions in your confirmation email.


This event will be live-transcribed, which may be useful for people who are D/deaf, hard of hearing, deafened or neurodivergent. The captions will be displayed on a large screen in-venue. Ticketholders for the livestream will receive a link to view the captions in a separate window.

For more information, please visit our Accessibility page. If you have any queries about accessibility, please email us at access@wellcomecollection.org or call 0 2 0. 7 6 1 1. 2 2 2 2

Our event terms and conditions

About your speakers

Black and white photograph of the author Kate Summerscale

Kate Summerscale

Kate Summerscale is the author of the number-one bestselling ‘The Suspicions of Mr Whicher’, winner of the Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction 2008, winner of the Galaxy British Book of the Year Award, a Richard & Judy Book Club pick and adapted into a major ITV drama. Her debut, ‘The Queen of Whale Cay’, won a Somerset Maugham Award and was shortlisted for the Whitbread Biography Award. ‘The Wicked Boy’, published in 2016, won the Mystery Writers of America Edgar Award for Best Fact Crime. Her latest book, ‘The Haunting of Alma Fielding’, was shortlisted for the Baillie Gifford Prize for Non-Fiction. She lives in north London.

Black and white photograph of Stephen Grosz

Stephen Grosz

Stephen Grosz has worked as a psychoanalyst for the past twenty-five years. He teaches at the Institute of Psychoanalysis and in the Psychoanalysis Unit at University College London (UCL). His first book, ‘The Examined Life: How We Lose and Find Ourselves’ (2013), spent three months in the top 10 of The Sunday Times non-fiction bestseller list. It has been translated into over 25 languages and was longlisted for the Guardian First Book Award. Grosz has published stories in the Financial Times Weekend Magazine and Granta. He lives in London.