Purpose of review: This review focuses on publications dealing with psychiatrists’ biographies. Recent findings: Compared with scientific mainstream topics in psychiatry, the present area constitutes a small but nonetheless highly heterogenous field. The selected papers are categorized with regard to what relevance is given to biographical data in a narrow sense or to conceptual issues for which the biography of a certain author functions as an illustration. Mere hagiographic biographical notes were not taken into consideration, and nor were plain polemics. Although the differentiation mentioned above seems useful in order to get an overview, it is de facto not possible to clearly separate biographical from conceptual aspects. This may be true for all fields in the history of science, but it is definitely true in the history of psychiatry with its numerous long-standing theoretical controversies – many of them still unresolved and all of them closely linked with the lives of their prominent representatives. Summary: The biographical approach can be helpful in proving that research on the history of psychiatry – if done beyond mere hagiography or simple polemic – is of crucial importance for the understanding and development of theoretical and practical issues in our field.