Trinity Term 2015 – Research Seminars in the History of Medicine, Oxford

H_ccf91f7a4aThe Trinity Term 2015 Seminar Series of the Wellcome Unit for the History of Medicine, is this year dedicated to ‘Medicine and Modern Warfare’ and has several topics that may interest the readers of h-madness.

Week 1 – 27 April
Ben Shephard, Bristol
‘Culture, politics or biology? How does American PTSD relate to European war trauma?’

Week 2 – 4 May
Bank Holiday – No Seminar Continue reading

Religion & Anti-psychiatry in Imperial Germany

111146d0H-Madness co-editor Eric Engstrom will be speaking on “Pastoral Psychiatry and Irrenseelsorge: Religious Aspects of the Anti-psychiatry Debates in Imperial Germany.” at the BPS History of Psychological Disciplines Seminar Series on Monday, 20 April. The abstract reads:

Historians of psychiatry have often enough interpreted the relationship between psychiatry and religion within narrative frameworks that focus on diagnoses and treatments (religious madness, exorcism) or that emphasise broader historical processes such as secularisation, medicalisation, and biologisation. While there is considerable merit to such frameworks, recent critiques of the secularisation paradigm have suggested a larger place for religion and spirituality in late 19th-century urban culture than is often assumed. The work of the American historian Edward R. Dickinson in particular has reminded us of the enduring influence and inertia of conservative Christian organisations in shaping moral discourse and social policy in the Kaiserreich.

My paper examines more closely the interdisciplinary topography between psychiatric and religious professionals, mapping out some of the common terrain on which they cooperated and/or disagreed with one another. In particular, I will examine debates about the place of religion in 19th-century asylum culture and the role of the so-called ‘Irrenseelsorger’. Against this backdrop and drawing especially on examples from Berlin, I will then explore efforts by religious organisations to expand their role in psychiatric after-/extramural care and show how those efforts contributed decisively to a nascent ‘anti-psychiatry’ movement in the years leading up to World War One.

For more information have a look at the blog Advances in the History of Psychology.

Book announcement – Les antipsychiatries : une histoire

Electre_978-2-7381-3179-9_9782738131799Jacques Hochmann, psychiatre et psychanalyste, spécialiste de l’enfance, est entre autres auteur d’une Histoire de la psychiatrie dans la collection Que sais-je. Dans un nouveau livre, il s’intéresse à l’histoire de l’antipsychiatrie.La quatrième de couverture annonce:

L’histoire de la psychiatrie est indissociable de celle d’une antipsychiatrie. Jacques Hochmann met ici au jour le constant balancement entre critiques et réactions, entre démarches « alternatives » et reprises en main qui a habité la psychiatrie depuis ses origines. Analysant en particulier l’antipsychiatrie anglaise ainsi que la psychiatrie démocratique italienne des années 1970, il retrace aussi tous les mouvements qui, dès le XIXe siècle, se sont opposés à la médecine officielle, aux pratiques thérapeutiques attentatoires aux libertés, à l’asile d’aliénés rebaptisé hôpital psychiatrique, etc. Il propose enfin les bases scientifiques qui pourraient permettre de sortir de ce combat permanent. Une relecture complète de l’histoire de la psychiatrie qui permet d’éclairer les débats actuels.

News: FDA recognizing “drinking less” an an acceptable outcome

Top of counter Bar with Blurred beer bottle Restaurant Interior

Writer Anne Fletcher has written a piece describing a change in the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) criteria for an acceptable outcome in the treatment of alcohol abuse.  As Fletcher notes:

… [the] FDA issued an official draft to guide development of drugs for the treatment of “alcoholism” that allows not only for abstinence as an outcome of studies showing efficacy of medications for their approval for clinical use but also allowing for a pattern of reduced drinking – described as “no heavy drinking days” – as an outcome.

(Many thanks to our reader Laura for drawing our attention to this).

Hidden Persuaders: Brainwashing, Culture, Clinical Knowledge and the Cold War Human Sciences


Under the direction of Daniel Pick, the Birkbeck College project ‘Hidden Persuaders: Brainwashing, Culture, Clinical Knowledge and the Cold War Human Sciences’, has launched a website with an accompanying blog:

Upcoming events and announcements include the following:

14 May seminar with Catalina Bronstein
Prof. Catalina Bronstein will lead a seminar on “Working in Fear: Memories of Psychiatry and Psychoanalysis during the Argentinian Dictatorship.” This seminar will be held from 11:45-13:30 on Thursday, 14 May, at Birkbeck. Catalina Bronstein is a Visiting Professor in the Psychoanalysis Unit, Research Department of Clinical, Educational and Health Psychology within the Division of Psychology and Language Sciences (PALS) at University College, London where she is the coordinator of the MSc seminars on Melanie Klein. She is a Training Analyst and Supervisor and a Fellow of the British Psycho-Analytical Society. Prof. Bronstein originally trained in Medicine and became a Psychiatrist in Buenos Aires, Argentina. She will be speaking about her experiences as a psychiatrist during Argentina’s ‘Dirty War.’
21 May seminar with Robert Jay Lifton
Robert Jay Lifton will lead a seminar on Thursday, 21 May at Birkbeck. Prof. Lifton is a psychiatrist and well-respected author of many books, including Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism (1961) and The Nazi Doctors (1986). Prof. Lifton will speak on his early research on Chinese ‘thought reform’ – exploring what this can tell us about what he calls ‘totalism’ – and his study of the psychological and ethical issues surrounding the atomic attack on Hiroshima. He will reflect on his psychohistorical research methods, including the development of his interview approach, use of psychoanalytical principles, and his perspective on the psychoanalytical movement in America.
Doctoral Studentship—deadline 1 July
The project’s website has announced a doctoral studentship. Students interested in applying for this can find more information here:


Book announcement – Rencontres, thérapie et création

27574100061500LChristophe Boulanger, Anouck Capte et Catherine Denève viennent de publier un livre sur la relation entre Henry Bauchau, écrivain et thérapeute, et Lionel, un de ses patients. Le quatrième de couverture indique: Continue reading

Témoin de l’histoire de la folie

jour-etude-archives-220Compte tenu des contraintes économiques et spatiales entourant la conservation des archives médicales, une réflexion commune s’impose sur les enjeux et pratiques courantes liés à l’exploitation de ces archives d’une valeur scientifique et sociale incontestable. Or, un dossier médical peut aussi bien parler à un historien, un sociologue, un anthropologue, un psychiatre qu’il renseigne le médecin, l’infirmière ou le patient sur le suivi clinique et les traitements proposés. Généralement devenu caduc pour le personnel hospitalier après la fin du suivi médical, il prend une tout autre importance et signification entre les mains des chercheurs qui y puisent notamment le sens de la pratique médicale d’hier à aujourd’hui, ou encore l’évolution des réactions sociales face aux comportements identifiés comme relevant de problèmes de santé mentale. Continue reading

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