New Issue – Histoire, médecine et santé


The new issue of the French journal Histoire, médecine et santé is dedicated to mental health. It contains the following articles

  • Stéphanie PACHE, Introduction. Les rapports entre théories et pratiques en santé mentale. Pour une dialectique heuristique
  • Silvia CHILETTI, Infanticide and Mental Illness: Theories and Practices involving Psychiatry and Justice (Italy 19th-20th century)
  • Elisabetta BASSO, L’épistémologie clinique de Ludwig Binswanger (1881-1966) : la psychiatrie comme « science du singulier »
  • Vincent PIDOUX, Psychotrope, dépression et intersubjectivité : l’épistémologie clinique de Roland Kuhn ou le faire science de la psychiatrie existentielle
  • Emilie BOVET, Mobiliser l’histoire pour mieux visibiliser les enjeux actuels de la recherche sur le cerveau
  • Camille JACCARD, Point d’orgue. Pratiques et théories dans le champ de la santé mentale : quelle histoire ?

New book by Edward Shorter: “What Psychiatry Left Out of the DSM-5″ (2015)

Historian of psychiatry Edward Shorter, author of numerous books including A History of Psychiatry: From the Era of the Asylum to the Age of Prozac (1997); Before Prozac. The Troubled History of Mood Disorders in Psychiatry (2009) and How Everyone Became Depressed: The Rise and Fall of the Nervous Breakdown (2013), has published a new book:

What Psychiatry Left Out of the DSM-5

Historically-Based Mental Disorders and the DSM: What Psychiatry Left Out covers the diagnoses that the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) failed to include, along with diagnoses that should not have been included, but were. Psychiatry as a field is over two centuries old and over that time has gathered great wisdom about mental illnesses. Today, much of that knowledge has been ignored and we have diagnoses such as “schizophrenia” and “bipolar disorder” that do not correspond to the diseases found in nature; we have also left out disease labels that on a historical basis may be real. Edward Shorter proposes a history-driven alternative to the DSM.

For more information, click here.

To access the author’s interview on H-Madness, click here.

BBC 3 “Madness in Civilisation, Night Walking” program with Lisa Appignanesi, Andrew Scull

In this new BBC Radio 3 programme, Matthew Sweet talks to Andrew Scull, author of Madness in Civilisation, about how different cultures around the world and through time have dealt with what we might call madness, insanity or the loss of reason and how the experience, felt or observed, has been interpreted by writers and artists. They are joined by Lisa Appignanesi, author of Trials of Passion and Mad, Bad and Sad to discuss whether the west’s long-term belief that madness had its roots in the body was bad news for women.

Matthew Beaumont also presents his history of an ancient crime but one still on the statute books of Massachussetts – Night Walking. Via the pens of Samuel Johnson who blamed London’s noxious night hours on arrogant aristocrats, to William Blake’s evocations of London’s Darkness, Free Thinking hears from those who had nothing in common with their slumbering fellows and who like Charles Dickens, enjoyed a time that brought some sense of better things, else forgotten and unattainable. Alongside, Deborah Longworth with a view of the flaneuse, the female solitary ambler and a pen-portrait of Dorothy Richardson whose relationship with the city of London outweighed all other passions in her life.

To access the programme, click here.

Esprit – Aux bords de la folie

Screenshot from 2015-03-10 07:59:56

Esprit, the French literary magazine, dedicates its March-April 2015 issue to ‘Madness’. Several articles may be interesting for our readers: Nicolas Henckes on the sectorisation, Sophie Rohe on how Esprit has covered psychiatry and madness in the last 60 years, Marc-Olivier Padis on the psychiatrist Gladys Swain, Didier Fassin on the link between prison and asylum…

For more information, click here.

Book announcement – Critique de la raison psychiatrique Eléments pour une histoire raisonnée de la schizophrénie

Screenshot from 2015-03-09 15:07:53

David Frank Allen, Lecturer at the University of Rennes (France), has published a book on the history of schizophrenia. The blurb reads:

Peut-on encore parler de Schizophrénie alors qu’historiquement et cliniquement rien ne justifie cette notion ?
Ce livre retrace l’histoire du scandale scientifique qu’est la schizophrénie. L’histoire relatée est nourrie par les préjugés et les points aveugles qui traversent deux siècles de recherches en Europe et aux USA. Deux siècles pour tenter de définir de façon peu rigoureuse et peu critiquée cette catégorie aussi vaste qu’informe. Deux siècles où la barbarie de la psychiatrie biologique ne voile pas complètement son échec. On y rencontre une pluralité de lectures d’Hamlet, sans oublier Freud, ou encore la question de la possession démoniaque. L’auteur illustre la pauvreté burlesque du DSM où le diagnostic standard chiffré évite le danger de la réflexion. Largement documenté, cet ouvrage propose une théorie rigoureuse des psychoses basée sur la clinique. Un livre pour les cliniciens, les historiens et ceux qui sont concernés par la souffrance psychique.

Dissertations – «Furieux et de petit gouvernement»

Maud Ternon: «Furieux et de petit gouvernement».
Judicial forms and practices relative to madness in the royal jurisdictions of France between the middle of the 12th century and the end of the 15th century.

In the archives of the royal justice system of the 14th and 15th centuries, madness was distinguished by two distinct judicial attributes: full incapacity in civil proceedings and the exception from penal responsibility in judicial matters. Dementia (furor) was summarily defined as an illness, stemming from the laws of nature, which deprived the subject of his ability to express any valid intent. Within this legal framework, whether or not conduct was deemed mad depended in large part on the specific circumstances of each law suit. The insanity plea could be used, for example, to acquit a crime, to nullify a contract or a testament as well as to prevent a relative from squandering the possessions of the family line by either having him barred and/or placed under guardianship.

"Legal Dispute", Distinctiones in Decretales Gregorii IX, c. 1470-1480, Paris - Bibl. Mazarine - ms. 1331, 121, © Institut de recherche et d'histoire des textes - CNRS.

“Legal Dispute”, Distinctiones in Decretales Gregorii IX, c. 1470-1480, Paris – Bibl. Mazarine – ms. 1331, 121, © Institut de recherche et d’histoire des textes – CNRS.

Those who were regarded as insane found themselves placed, primarily, under the authority of their relatives who thus deprived them of the ordinary privileges associated to adulthood and, should they prove dangerous, kept them at home. If customary law was generally used to arbitrate these situations, more and more appeals to the royal courts and to the opinions of legal scholars were made during this period. Even if the king did not pass judgment on such family matters, he did deputize certain mid-level actors, such as the burghers, to take these vulnerable subjects in their custody. In turn, these lawmen remained particularly attentive to appeal systematically to his sovereign authority.

Maud Ternon, a former student of the Ecole normale supérieure de Lettres et Sciences humaines,  graduated in December 2014 in the University of Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne. She has teached Medieval History in the universities of Paris 1, Versailles and Nanterre. She currently is a professeur agrégé in high school.

Albert Maysles, pioneering documentary maker, dies at 88

Albert Maysles, pioneering documentary maker, dies aged 88. He made a short documentary on psychiatry in Russia in 1957.

For an obituary see:

The short documentary on psychiatry in Russia:

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