New book: Freud in Cambridge

51+1VWKEa6L._SX327_BO1,204,203,200_Cambridge University Press has published a book on Freud that might be of interest to readers of h-madness. Freud in Cambridge, written by John Forrester and Laura Cameron, wants to shed light on his influence on Cambridge intellectuals.

The abstract reads as follows:

Freud may never have set foot in Cambridge – that hub for the twentieth century’s most influential thinkers and scientists – but his intellectual impact there in the years between the two World Wars was immense. This is a story that has long languished untold, buried under different accounts of the dissemination of psychoanalysis. John Forrester and Laura Cameron present a fascinating and deeply textured history of the ways in which a set of Freudian ideas about the workings of the human mind, sexuality and the unconscious, affected Cambridge men and women – from A. G. Tansley and W. H. R. Rivers to Bertrand Russell, Bernal, Strachey and Wittgenstein – shaping their thinking across a range of disciplines, from biology to anthropology, and from philosophy to psychology, education and literature. Freud in Cambridge will be welcomed as a major intervention by literary scholars, historians and all readers interested in twentieth-century intellectual and scientific life.

New book: Mental Health in Asia and the Pacific: Historical and Cultural Perspectives.


The book Mental Health in Asia and the Pacific: Historical and Cultural Perspectives, edited by Harry Minas and Milton Lewis (Springer 2017) could be of interest to readers of h-madness.

The abstract reads:

This far-reaching volume analyzes the social, cultural, political, and economic factors contributing to mental health issues and shaping treatment options in the Asian and Pacific world. Multiple lenses examine complex experiences and needs in this vast region, identifying not only cultural issues at the individual and collective levels, but also the impacts of colonial history, effects of war and disasters, and the current climate of globalization on mental illness and its care. These concerns are located in the larger context of physical health and its determinants, worldwide goals such as reducing global poverty, and the evolving mental health response to meet rising challenges affecting the diverse populations of the region. The different chapters focus on countries in East, Southeast, and South Asia plus Oceania and Australia, describing national history of psychiatry and its acceptance; present-day mental health practice and services; mental/physical health impact of recent social change; disparities in accessibility, service delivery, and quality of care; collaborations with indigenous and community approaches to healing; current mental health resources, the state of policy, and areas for intervention.



New article: Marianna Scarfone, ‘La psychiatrie Italienne au front: l’expérience fondatrice de la guerre de Libye, 1911-1912’.

LMS_257_L204This article explores how Italian psychiatrists faced the pathologies that affected soldiers on the frontline as well as in the hospitals, and describes the debate that arose regarding wartime psychological disorders.

Marianna Scarfone, ‘La psychiatrie Italienne au front. L’expérience fondatrice de la guerre de Libye (1911-1912)’, Le Mouvement social, 257, 2016, 4, p. 109-126.


“Pendant la guerre menée par l’Italie pour la conquête de la Libye (1911-1912), les psychiatres, militaires et civils, sont confrontés pour la première fois aux pathologies qui peuvent affecter les soldats en temps de guerre. Prenant appui sur leur expérience au front ou dans les hôpitaux italiens qui reçoivent les militaires rapatriés, ils réfléchissent à l’étiologie de ces manifestations et à leur classification. Un débat se dessine alors sur le rôle des émotions ou de la prédisposition dans le cadre de la psychopathologie en contexte de guerre, qui s’inspire des auteurs Russes et Français. Fondé sur les publications des psychiatres impliqués, cet article rend compte de ce débat, mais aussi des interrogations que cette première confrontation aux troubles psychiques de guerre fait émerger, telles que la sélection des combattants ou la formation psychiatrique des médecins. Il s’attache également à l’organisation de l’assistance psychiatrique des hôpitaux de campagne. Grâce à l’exploitation des dossiers médicaux de l’ancien asile de Gênes, l’article présente enfin certains cas cliniques de soldats rapatriés de Tripolitaine et de Cyrénaïque, pour tenter de restituer au plus près l’expérience vécue par les militaires de ces perturbations de leur existence”.


Journée d’études: Patrimoine et psychiatrie (3 avril 2017, Strasbourg)

Patrimoine et psychiatrie

On the third of April 2017 a free seminar is organised by Marianna Scarfone and Marie Derrien of the University of Strasbourg about the patrimonalisation of the history of psychiatry. It will be held at the salle des fêtes hôpital civil Strasbourg from 9h till 16h


A detailed description about the aim of the seminar and its programme can be found below. For more information you can contact:



“Depuis une dizaine d’années en France, la multiplication des travaux de recherche sur l’histoire de la psychiatrie s’accompagne d’une mise en valeur nouvelle des archives produites par les hôpitaux psychiatriques. Ces établissements, longtemps considérés comme des lieux repoussoirs, construits en marge des villes ou dissimulés derrière de hauts murs, s’ouvrent aujourd’hui non seulement aux chercheur(e)s mais aussi au public, accueilli ponctuellement lors des journées du patrimoine ou toute l’année dans les musées ouverts au sein de plusieurs centres hospitaliers. Le succès rencontré par ces initiatives témoigne de l’intérêt suscité par le patrimoine médical, scientifique, technique, architectural et naturel des hôpitaux psychiatriques. Quelle est l’histoire de cette progressive patrimonialisation ? Quels en sont les acteurs, quel sens donnent-ils à cette entreprise et à quelles difficultés se heurtent-ils ? Quelles représentations de la médecine psychiatrique et de la maladie mentale cette dynamique traduit-elle ? Voici quelques-unes des questions que des historien(ne)s, des psychiatres, des archivistes, des conservateurs et des conservatrices du patrimoine se proposent d’examiner à l’occasion de cette journée d’étude ouverte à toutes et tous”.

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CfP: “Patient Voices” symposium (Oxford, September 2017)

Patient Voices

Historical and Ethical Engagement with Patient Experiences of Healthcare, 1850–1948

An interdisciplinary, policy-focused symposium
New College, University of Oxford
18–19 September 2017

In 1948, diverse health provisions in Britain were consolidated into a single, state-directed service. After almost seventy years of the NHS—the bedrock of modern welfare—there is great concern about any return to a mixed economy of healthcare. The proposed privatisation of health services is controversial because it threatens to destabilise the complex relationships of patients with medical professionals and the state. It calls into question the structure and accessibility of healthcare, as well as the rights of patients, both as medical consumers and sources of medical data. Yet these are questions that equally shaped the development of the NHS prior to its foundation. Historical perspectives on pre-NHS healthcare—perspectives that are increasingly informed by the experiences of patients—are fundamental to understanding not just the past but also the choices before us.

Social historians of medicine have responded in various ways to Roy Porter’s 1985 call for histories incorporating the patient view. But despite work across diverse fields, patient voices before 1948 are yet to be fully integrated into historical scholarship. This symposium brings together historians, medical ethicists and archivists with interdisciplinary expertise to explore questions relating to the accessibility and ethics of the study of patient voices and data in the specific context of pre-NHS provisions. Through research presentations, roundtable discussions and interactive sessions, participants will explore the collection and qualitative use of historical medical records. The symposium will focus on methodological issues by investigating a range of available archives and piloting new strategies for retrieving as-yet-unheard historical patient voices. It will also address ethical issues arising from these pilot strategies, including questions of data protection, informed consent and the implications of new technologies in storing and analysing information.

Following the symposium, participants will be invited to submit articles for a special issue.

We welcome proposals for 20-minute papers that address one or more of the following questions:

  • How should historians access and interpret the experiences of patients, particularly those with stigmatising conditions?
  • How can historians negotiate archival ‘silences’ when locating patient voices?
  • What can patient experiences tell historians about past, present and future interactions between healthcare consumers and providers?
  • How can the study of historical patient experiences inform the social, political and clinical dimensions of healthcare in the future?
  • What ethical considerations should inform the collection, maintenance and use of sensitive medical archives, including digitisation, data analytics and discourse analysis?
  • How can attention to these ethical considerations shape the study of healthcare and facilitate high-quality medical-humanities research?

Proposals should not exceed 300 words and should be accompanied by a short biography. Please submit them to Anne Hanley (University of Oxford) and Jessica Meyer (University of Leeds) at by 1 April 2017.

This symposium is supported by the Ludwig Humanities Research Fund.

Dissertations – Madness in Early Modern England

Alison R. Brown: “Though Troubled Be My Brain:” Madness in Early Modern England, 1603-1714

This dissertation is a study of madness in Stuart-Era England. Madness was pervasive in early modern England; it was in the streets, performed on stage, discussed in political pamphlets and legal treatises, and physically housed in Bethlehem Hospital. Madness, therefore, serves as a significant lens because in differentiating between madness and sanity, contemporaries regularly drew clear boundaries between acceptable, or “normal” behavior, and unacceptable, or “abnormal” behavior, that was particular to seventeenth-century English culture and society. Specifically, I argue that madness serves as a channel to examine the diagnoses and treatment of mental disorders that contemporaries believed altered the body and mind, the legal repercussions of abnormal behavior at the state and local level, and the use of corporeal rhetoric in political culture.

Ranters Declaration

Frontispiece of “The Ranters Declaration” (1650). The Ranters were a radical religious and political group that emerged during the mid-century crisis in England. Many critics of their movement described them as “The Mad Crew.”

In studying the diagnoses and treatments of diseases that altered the body and mind, we encounter contemporaries negotiating between the boundaries of madness and sanity in familial and community relationships, their choice of medical practitioner, their conception of the mind-body relationship, and the ways in which the interplay between natural and supernatural beliefs affected medicinal practices. In negotiating the boundaries between madness and sanity in gender relations, the law, and political culture, we encounter representations of the mad such as “Tom of Bedlam” and “Mad Bess,” recognizable characters in poems, riddles, and ballads. Representations of the mad and madness itself formed discursive elements in philosophy, religious nonconformity, gendered language, legal statutes, Personal Acts of Parliament, inquisitions of lunacy, the symbolism of “undress,” or nakedness, and in political propaganda meant to delegitimize opposing parties. Therefore, the ways in which contemporaries recognized, interpreted, and managed madness provides insight into aspects of English society colored by divisions between acceptable and unacceptable behavior.

Before public institutions for the insane were founded specifically for that purpose, family or community-based care was the norm for the mad, in addition to the few private madhouses that were founded by private entrepreneurs during the last half of the seventeenth century. With no bureaucratic system of recordkeeping, source limitations seemingly restricted historians to the period starting a century and a half later when public asylums were built. Consequently, this dissertation draws on a wide variety of sources in order to creatively circumvent this problem, including manuscripts, parish records, land commissions, autobiography, spiritual biography, criminal cases, political pamphlets, doctors’ notes, medical guidebooks, and more.

Alison R. Brown is a Ph.D. Candidate at Purdue University working with Professor Melinda S. Zook.




New Issue – L’esprit créateur

L'Esprit_Fall12_Covers.qxpThe winter issue 2016 of the journal “L’esprit créateur”, coordinated by Florence Vatan and Anne Vila, is entitled L’esprit (dé)réglé: Literature, Science, and the Life of the Mind in France, 1700–1900. It contains the following articles:

L’esprit (dé)réglé: Literature, Science, and the Life of the Mind in France, 1700–1900 by Florence Vatan and Anne Vila. The abstract reads:

The case studies presented in this special issue illustrate the unique appeal that the puzzle of the mind exerted across fields of knowledge in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. They highlight the diversity of approaches and perspectives that the exploration of the mind elicited in literature, philosophy, and the sciences de l’homme. They also testify to the conceptual challenges and persistent nebulousness that surrounded the notion of esprit and its close associates. That fluidity of meaning was, in its way, productive: it provoked debates about the nature of the self, the precarious status of consciousness, and the relevance of human exceptionalism.

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