Book Annoucement – Madness in Buenos Aires: Patients, Psychiatrists, and the Argentine State 1880-1983

Jonathan ABLARD, Madness in Buenos Aires: Patients, Psychiatrists, and the Argentine State 1880-1983 (Latin American and Caribbean series, Ohio University Press, Athens, 2008)

Madness in Buenos Aires examines the interactions between psychiatrists, patients and their families, and the national state in modern Argentina. This book offers a fresh interpretation of the Argentine state’s relationship to modernity and social change during the twentieth century, while also examining the often contentious place of psychiatry in modern Argentina.

Drawing on a number of previously unused archival sources, author Jonathan Ablard demonstrates how the experience of psychiatric patients serves as a useful case study of how the Argentine state developed and functioned over the last century and of how Argentines interacted with it. Ablard argues that the capacity of the Argentine state to provide social services and professional opportunities and to control the populace was often constrained to an extent not previously recognized in the scholarly literature. These limitations, including a shortage of hospitals, insufficient budgets, and political and economic instability, shaped the experiences of patients, their families, and doctors and also influenced medical and lay ideas about the nature and significance of mental illness. Furthermore, these experiences, and the institutional framework in which they were imbedded, had a profound impact on how Argentine psychiatrists discussed not only mental illness, but also a host of related themes including immigration, poverty, and the role of the state in mitigating social problems.

Jonathan D. Ablard is an assistant professor at Ithaca College in Ithaca, New York, where he has taught Latin American history since 2005. He received his doctorate from the University of New Mexico in 2000. Ablard was previously an assistant professor at the University of West Georgia.

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