Announcement: After Freud Left wins book prize


The University of Chicago Press book, After Freud Left: A Century of Psychoanalysis in America, with contributions by Jean-Christophe Agnew, Ernst Falzeder, Elizabeth Lunbeck, George Makari, Louis Menand, Dorothy Ross, Sonu Shamdasani, Richard Skues, and Hale Usak-Sahin, edited by John Burnham, has won the Courage to Dream book prize of the American Psychoanalytic Association.

New book – “Trials of Passion: Crimes in the Name of Love and Madness” (Lisa Appignanesi)

This book journeys into the heart of dark passions and the crimes they impel. When passion is in the picture, what is criminal, what sane, what mad or simply bad? Brighton, 1870: A well-respected spinster infuses chocolate creams with strychnine in order to murder her lover’s wife. Paris, 1880: A popular performer stalks her betraying lover through the streets of the city for weeks and finally takes aim. New York, 1906: A millionaire shoots dead a prominent architect in full view of a theatre audience. Through court and asylum records, letters and newspaper accounts, this book brings to life a period when the psychiatric professions were consolidating their hold on our understanding of what is human. An increasingly popular press allowed the public unprecedented insight into accounts of transgressive sexuality, savage jealousy and forbidden desires. With great story-telling flair, Lisa Appignanesi teases out the vagaries of passion and the clashes between the law and the clinic as they stumble towards a (sometimes reviled) collaboration. Sexual etiquette and class roles, attitudes to love, madness and gender, notions of respectability and honour, insanity and lunacy, all are at play in that vital forum in which public opinion is shaped – the theatre of the courtroom.

Lisa Appignanesi is a prize-winning writer, novelist, broadcaster and cultural commentator.  A Visiting Professor at King’s College London, she is former President of the campaigning writers association, English PEN, and Chair of London’s Freud Museum.  She will be taking part in the Swindon Literature Festival next month. For more information, see the festival website.

For a recent review of Trials of Passion in The Telegraph, click here.


New issue of “History of the Human Sciences”

F1.mediumA new issue of History of the Human Sciences is available online. The April issue 2014 contains following articles that may interest readers of h-madness.

Mical Raz, Deprived of touch: How maternal and sensory deprivation theory converged in shaping early debates over autism.

In 1943, a distinguished child psychiatrist at Johns Hopkins University, Leo Kanner, published what would become a landmark article: a description of 11 children who suffered from a distinct disorder he called ‘infantile autism’. While initially quite obscure, in the early 1950s Kanner’s report garnered much attention, as clinicians and researchers interpreted these case studies as exemplifying the ill-effects of maternal deprivation, a new theory that rapidly gained currency in the United States. Sensory deprivation experiments, performed in the mid-1950s, further complicated the picture, as experts debated whether maternal deprivation was unique or simply a form of environmental stimulation. As experts strove to make sense of this new disorder, they relied on concepts of maternal and sensory deprivation, both to promote their own theories and to critique or refute those of their colleagues. This interplay between the two theories also informed new forms of intervention, including ‘rage reduction therapy’, which served as a precursor for controversial forms of therapy today termed as the ‘attachment therapies’. This article sheds light on a little-known aspect of the history of autism, and examines the far-reaching effect popular etiological theories have in shaping debates over emerging medical concerns.

David Pilgrim, Historical resonances of the DSM-5 dispute: American exceptionalism or Eurocentrism?

This article begins with arguments evident at the time of writing about the 5th revision of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association. The historical lineages of those arguments are international and not limited to the USA (the current focus in the DSM-5 controversy). The concern with psychiatric diagnosis both internationally and in the USA came to the fore at the end of the Second World War with the construction of the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-I) and the World Health Organization’s classification of ‘Diseases, Injuries and Causes of Death’ (ICD-6). However, the linkage between categories of morbidity, assumptions about natural biological categories and treatment specificity with ‘magic bullets’ emerged in the middle of the 19th century in physical medicine. This article explores the legitimacy of current psychiatric diagnoses in the light of that international, not national, history of medical knowledge. In conclusion it explores judgements about current cultural imperialism (at times made about US psychiatry) and an older picture of Eurocentrism, which is now being refracted in more recent globalizing knowledge-claims about mental disorder.


New issue of “History of Psychiatry”

F1.mediumA new issue of History of Psychiatry is available online. The March issue 2014 contains the following articles:
Andreas-Holger Maehle: The powers of suggestion: Albert Moll and the debate on hypnosis

The Berlin physician Albert Moll (1862–1939) was an advocate of hypnotic suggestion therapy and a prolific contributor to the medical, legal and public discussions on hypnotism from the 1880s to the 1920s. While his work in other areas, such as sexology, medical ethics and parapsychology, has recently attracted scholarly attention, this paper for the first time comprehensively examines Moll’s numerous publications on hypnotism and places them in their contemporary context. It covers controversies over the therapeutic application of hypnosis, the reception of Moll’s monograph Der Hypnotismus (1889), his research on the rapport between hypnotizer and subject, his role as an expert on ‘hypnotic crime’, and his views on the historical influence of hypnotism on the development of psychotherapy. My findings suggest that Moll rose to prominence due to the strong late-nineteenth-century public and medical interest in the phenomena of hypnosis, but that his work was soon overshadowed by new, non-hypnotic psychotherapeutic approaches, particularly Freud’s psychoanalysis.

Harry Oosterhuis: Mental health, citizenship, and the memory of World War II in the Netherlands (1945–85)

After World War II, Dutch psychiatrists and other mental health care professionals articulated ideals of democratic citizenship. Framed in terms of self-development, citizenship took on a broad meaning, not just in terms of political rights and obligations, but also in the context of material, social, psychological and moral conditions that individuals should meet in order to develop themselves and be able to act according to those rights and obligations in a responsible way. In the post-war period of reconstruction (1945–65), as well as between 1965 and 1985, the link between mental health and ideals of citizenship was coloured by the public memory of World War II and the German occupation, albeit in completely different, even opposite ways. The memory of the war, and especially the public consideration of its victims, changed drastically in the mid-1960s, and the mental health sector played a crucial role in bringing this change about. The widespread attention to the mental effects of the war that surfaced in the late 1960s after a period of 20 years of public silence should be seen against the backdrop of the combination of democratization and the emancipation of emotions.

Ana Antic: Therapeutic Fascism: re-educating Communists in Nazi-occupied Serbia, 1942–44

This article probes the relationship between psychoanalysis and right-wing authoritarianism, and analyses a unique psychotherapeutic institution established by Serbia’s World War II collaborationist regime. The extraordinary Institute for compulsory re-education of high-school and university students affiliated with the Communist resistance movement emerged in the context of a brutal civil war and violent retaliations against Communist activists, but its openly psychoanalytic orientation was even more astonishing. In order to stem the rapid spread of Communism, the collaborationist state, led by its most extreme fascistic elements, officially embraced psychotherapy, the ‘talking cure’ and Freudianism, and conjured up its own theory of mental pathology and trauma – one that directly contradicted the Nazi concepts of society and the individual. In the course of the experiment, Serbia’s collaborationists moved away from the hitherto prevailing organicist, biomedical model of mental illness, and critiqued traditional psychiatry’s therapeutic pessimism.

Laura Allison and Joanna Moncrieff: ‘Rapid tranquillisation’: an historical perspective on its emergence in the context of the development of antipsychotic medications

This paper examines factors involved in the theory and practice of emergency sedation for behavioural disturbance in psychiatry in the mid-twentieth century, and the emergence of the concept of ‘rapid tranquillisation’. The practice received little attention until the arrival of antipsychotic drugs, which replaced older sedatives and became the agents most strongly associated with the treatment of aggression and challenging behaviour. Emergency sedation was subsequently portrayed in psychiatric literature and advertising as a therapeutic and diagnosis-driven endeavour, and the concept of rapid tranquillisation emerged in this context in the 1970s. Use of non-antipsychotic sedatives, like the benzodiazepines, is barely visible in contemporary sources, and the research suggests that antipsychotics became the mainstay of rapid tranquillisation strategies because of beliefs about their specific therapeutic properties in psychosis and schizophrenia, and not because of demonstrated superiority over other agents.

Niall McCrae: Resilience of institutional culture: mental nursing in a decade of radical change

Mental nursing has continued to be neglected in the history of psychiatry. This paper considers the impact of a decade of radical developments on the role and outlook of nurses in British mental hospitals during the 1930s. The Mental Treatment Act 1930 introduced voluntary admission for early, supposedly treatable cases, although there was paucity of effective treatment. In the mid-1930s shock therapies, administered with great enthusiasm by asylum doctors, promised to cure insanity by physical means. Although these were important milestones in the progress of psychiatry, for the majority of nurses and patients life continued much as before. Despite advances in training, working conditions and therapeutic activity, the institutional culture of nursing was remarkably resilient to the forces of change.

Jan Dirk Blom: When doctors cry wolf: a systematic review of the literature on clinical lycanthropy

This paper provides an overview and critical reassessment of the cases of clinical lycanthropy reported in the medical literature from 1850 onwards. Out of 56 original case descriptions of metamorphosis into an animal, only 13 fulfilled the criteria of clinical lycanthropy proper. The remaining cases constituted variants of the overarching class of clinical zoanthropy. Forty-seven cases involved primary delusions, and nine secondary delusions on the basis of somatic and/or visual hallucinations which may well have affected the patients’ sense of physical existence, also known as coenaesthesis. Cases of secondary delusions in particular warrant proper somatic and auxiliary investigations to rule out any underlying organic pathology, notably in somatosensory areas and those representing the body scheme.

Olga Alexandrovna Vlasova and Dr Allan Beveridge: Karl Jaspers’ phenomenology in the light of histological and X-ray metaphors

The study considers the origins of Karl Jaspers’ phenomenology. What did phenomenology mean to Jaspers and what was his personal perspective? What metaphors did he associate with it? This paper describes his phenomenological method by using the metaphors of histology and the X-ray. This perspective enables a better understanding, not only of the origins and essence of his phenomenology but also of its value for Jaspers himself. In Jaspers’ daily life, he would have been familiar with microscopes and X-ray machines.

CfP: History of Melancholy Conference (Heidelberg, October 2014)

University of Heidelberg, Karl Jaspers Centre
2–4 October 2014
Frank Grüner and Maike Rotzoll,
Cluster of Excellence “Asia and Europe in a Global Context”, University of Heidelberg

Call for Abstracts for an International Conference at the University of Heidelberg

Gloom Goes Global:
Towards a Transcultural History of Melancholy since 1850

This interdisciplinary conference focuses on the study of melancholy as a historical- anthropological phenomenon and scientific medical concept from a transcultural perspective. It will discuss influential narratives and perceptions of gloom as articulated in various national and cultural contexts – in Europe, Russia and Asia – since the middle of the 19th century, and will examine their mutual penetration and transformation. The central question concerns the extent to which the paradigm shift from a perception of melancholy shaped by natural philosophy, literature and art to a psychopathological condition conceptualised using scientific terminology can be described as a global phenomenon.

The production of certain concepts and ontologies of melancholy in a specific historical context is to be understood as a dynamic cross-border process in which “traditional”, more or less established, forms of knowledge and science – among them medical systems – are affected, challenged or closely intertwined by “wandering ideas” in the sense of a “circulation of knowledge” or “culture on the move”.

The key concern of this conference is to discuss competing concepts of melancholy and their mutual penetration and transformation against the backdrop of cultural flows, in particular flows of knowledge and science between Europe, Russia and Asia. In concrete terms, this conference seeks books or texts and ideas (medical and scientific as well as philosophical or social) produced in one cultural context and transmitted or transferred to another, translated from one to the other language, or adapted, changed, transformed, etc. Further, the conference addresses the people and institutions as well as agents and brokers involved in or affected by these kinds of transcultural flows and cross-border activities.

Last but not least, this conference focuses on global flows of cosmopolitan psychiatry and the circulation of concepts of mental illnesses such as melancholy or depression and the ontologies that they produced in different historical and cultural contexts.

Topics of the conference papers can focus on the following aspects in particular:

  • prevalent concepts of melancholy in Europe, Russia and/or Asia in the time from around 1850 to the present in literature, the arts, philosophy, sciences and medicine
  • epistemological and ontological transfers in the field of science and medicine betweendifferent cultures which shaped the understanding, redefinitions and experience of melancholy and gloom in various historical contexts of Europe, Russia and Asia
  • exchange processes and transcultural entanglements in the field of melancholy
  • cultural brokers, itineraries and the institutions or places of knowledge involved inthese transnational processes of knowledge transfer and circulation of melancholy concepts
  • the circulation and application of certain practices concerning health and knowledgewhich played a role in regard to the (medical or social) treatment of melancholy and depression

Formal requirements:

  • Applicants should submit the title of a paper, an abstract of max. 300 words and a short CV to Frank Grüner ( or Maike Rotzoll ( by 15 April 2014.
  • Successful applicants will be requested to submit a full paper (5,000 words max.) by 10 September 2014. The papers will serve as a basis for discussion during the conference. Selected papers are expected to be published.
  • The presentations at the conference in Heidelberg last a maximum of 20 minutes.
  • Accommodation costs and travel expenses will (at least partially) be covered by the organisers.


  • Dr. Frank Grüner
    Cluster of Excellence “Asia and Europe”
    University of Heidelberg
    Karl Jaspers Centre for Advanced Transcultural Studies Building 4400, Room 016
    Voßstr. 2
    D-69115 Heidelberg
    Phone: ++49-(0)6221-544302
  • Dr. med. Maike Rotzoll
    Institute for the History and Ethics of Medicine University of Heidelberg
    INF 327
    D-69120 Heidelberg

Book announcement – Des murs et des femmes

Screenshot from 2014-04-08 20:51:08The blurb reads:

Le Beau-Vallon à Saint-Servais (Namur, Belgique), c’est d’abord une histoire de murs. Des murs qui, en 1914, constituent le premier asile pavillonnaire de Wallonie. Des murs qui sont destinés à protéger les malades et la société. Des murs qui, au fil des décennies, s’ouvrent sur la ville grâce à la percée de nouvelles brèches et portes de sortie. Le Beau-Vallon, c’est surtout une histoire de femmes. D’une part, des Sœurs de la Charité qui s’initieront à l’art de soigner les malades mentaux avant de passer le relais aux laïcs. Et d’autre part, des milliers de patientes d’abord internées contre leur gré, puis, de plus en plus, demandeuses de leur propre hospitalisation.

To get more informations, click here.


Post-Doc Position in the History of Neuroscience and Psychiatry – University of Calgary

The Department of Community Health Sciences in the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Calgary (Canada) is accepting applications for a Postdoctoral Fellow in the History of Neuroscience & Psychiatry for a research project funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR).

Job Description:
The UofC has an active research and educational community in the wider field of the science studies (programs in the History of Medicine and Health Care, History and Philosophy of Science, as well as Science and Technology Studies).  The successful applicant will work with a team of historians and science scholars based in the Faculty of Medicine with strong links to the Faculties of Arts/Science/Nursing, the Calgary Institute for the Humanities, the Hotchkiss Brain Institute, and the Institute for Public Health.  The applicant will help to advance the groups’ historiographical research program and engage with (inter)national collaborators to examine the impact of émigrés physicians and researchers in North American neuroscience.  The research program is aligned with current work to investigate the impact of the forced migration of German-speaking émigré psychiatrists, neurologists and basic brain researchers in Canada and the USA (see:

The successful candidate will teach 1 course per term in an area related to the History of Medicine/History/History and Philosophy of Science and contribute 40% of her/his time to research, data-banking, and publication activities of the research program.  Participation in the ongoing seminars and lecture series of the program is also required.  All other time, she/he can devote to her/his grant-writing activities, publications, and collaborations.

Applications are invited from recent PhD graduates (<3 years from degree) in history/sociology/STS/ philosophy/anthropology/classics with a demonstrated background in history of medicine/science/neuroscience and interest in the subject of the local research program.  International applications are likewise strongly encouraged. Data-banking experience and additional knowledge of German, Hebrew, Polish, or French is appreciated; and demonstrated experiences with oral history methodology would be an advantage.

Application details:
Review of applications will begin April-30, 2014 continuing until successful recruitment (anticipated start date: Sept-1, 2014).  Applicants should submit a CV, a cover letter with statement of research experience, 2 writing samples (articles or books chapters), a brief outline of personal research interests along with 2 reference letters to:

Dr. Frank W. Stahnisch, Associate Professor
AMF/Hannah Professorship in the History of Medicine and Health Care
Department of Community Health Sciences & Department of History
TRW Building, Room 3E41, 3280 Hospital Drive NW
Calgary, AB, Canada  T2N 4Z6

Email applications (with all supporting materials) are preferred.  Applicants wishing more information are encouraged to contact Dr. Frank W. Stahnisch ( or Mrs. Beth Cusitar (

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