Archive for January, 2011

Cfp – Mastering the Emotions: Control, Contagion and Chaos, 1800 to the Present Day

CALL FOR PAPERS – DEADLINE 14th February 2011

Mastering the Emotions: Control, Contagion and Chaos, 1800 to the Present Day

16th-17th June 2011, Queen Mary, University of London

* Keynote Speakers *

Sally Shuttleworth, St Anne’s College, Oxford University, UK

Allan Young, McGill University, Montreal, Canada


What does it mean to master one’s emotions?

Since the modern category of ‘the emotions’ emerged in the early decades of the nineteenth century, much medical knowledge about and scientific research into this elusive phenomenon has been concerned with its potentially involuntary nature, and with the ability and inability of humans to exert control over their emotions.

From the nineteenth century?s preoccupation with the nature of impulse and involuntary expression, to our own concerns about emotional literacy and regulation, the problem of constricting emotions, and producing them on demand,has troubled psychologists,physicians, philosophers, scientists, writers and artists alike.

Constructed as both irrational, yet within the bounds of rational control, separate from,yet the product of bodily processes, ‘the emotions’ have historically proved a key site of medical and cultural debate. At the same time, the exercise of too much control has also been pathologised, and both theatricalised and repressed emotions have historically called into question prevailing notions of ‘authenticity’ and emotional truth.

Papers are invited which explore the management, control or manipulation of the emotions between 1800 and the present day. Possible themes might include, but are not limited to:

– Pathologisation (e.g. of absence and excess of emotion, emotional impulses)

– Regulation (e.g. medical or psychological intervention, medically directed self-regulation, emotions and public policy)

– Manipulation and Performativity (e.g. theatre, malingering)

– Trauma and Repression (e.g. emotion and the subconscious, emotional release as therapeutic, the production of emotional states through drugs and hypnosis)

Please send abstract proposals of 300 words, or panel proposals (2 or 4 abstracts, and a panel rationale of 300 words) by email to Tiffany Watt-Smith by 14th February 2011. All speakers will be notified by 28th February 2011.

We hope to offer a small number of bursaries for international and UK postgraduate delegates covering registration, travel and accommodation. Students who wish to apply for bursaries should contact Tiffany Watt-Smith for more information.

New issue – Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences


jhbsThe Winter issue of JHBS is out and includes the following two articles related to the history of psychiatry:

The great escape: World War II, neo-Freudianism, and the origins of U.S. psychocultural analysis by Edward J. K. Gitre. The abstract reads:

Psychocultural analysis stands as a signal accomplishment of the 1930s U.S. assimilation of European refugee-intellectuals. Scholars in the U.S. had been moving toward a kind of psychocultural analysis well in advance of the Great Migration—the U.S. was not an intellectual vacuum or wasteland—nevertheless, it was through their interdisciplinary collaboration, fueled by the specter of war, that these international peers stimulated one of the most wide-ranging, dynamic, and productive exchanges of ideas of the century. Through the lens of Erich Fromm’s Escape from Freedom, this article explores psychoculturalism’s emergence in the interstices between cultures, nations, ideas, and disciplines—between Europeans and Americans, psychoanalysts and social scientists.

The end of drugging children: Toward the genealogy of the ADHD subject by Edward J. Comstock

This genealogy of the ADHD subject will demonstrate that over the course of the twentieth century a new relation between power, knowledge, the body, and ethical practices of self-formation emerged around the ADHD-type in ways that are not captured by the received critical perspective. By examining the history of knowledge and practices surrounding the ADHD-type, this work will argue that the deviant subject that was located relative to external institutional moral/juridical values or standards is replaced over the course of the century by a new intelligibility of rational self-management. A further analysis of this emergent intelligibility attempts to advance the critical understanding of the increasingly prevalent ADHD phenomenon by showing how novel drug and brain imaging technologies work to link behaviors to identity, establishing new relations of power to the subject not captured by the received medicalization perspective. This work will be of interest to anybody interested in the relations among knowledge, drugs, power, and the ADHD subject.

More information, as well as a complete table of contents, can be found here.

New issue – Journal of the History of the Neurosciences

jhnA new issue of JHN is out and includes the following articles:

An Approach to Nineteenth-Century Medical Lexicon: The Term “Dreamy State” by Esther Lardreau. The abstract reads:

Hughlings-Jackson coined the concept of dreamy state: According to him, one of the sensations of a “dreamy state” was an odd feeling of recognition and familiarity, often called “déjà vu”. A clear sense of strangeness could also be experienced in the “dreamy state” (“jamais vu”). Jackson himself did not use these French terms, but he was quite clear about the vivid feelings of strangeness and familiarity, which can occur in both normal and pathological conditions.In order to explore some of the exchanges between medical and nonmedical vocabularies, we examine the historical origins of this technical concept. By basing the study on European (medical and nonmedical) literature of the nineteenth century, we review the first descriptions of this state and compare them with the famous Hughlings-Jackson definitions.

It appears that this medical concept was partly borrowed from a wide cultural background before being rationally developed and reworked in the fields of neurology and psychiatry.

Psychic Blindness or Visual Agnosia: Early Descriptions of a Nervous Disorder by Christian Baumann. The abstract reads:

This article briefly reports on three early contributions to the understanding of visual agnosia as a syndrome sui generis. The authors of the respective papers worked in different fields such as physiology, ophthalmology, and neurology, and, although they were not in direct contact with each other, their results converged upon a consistent view of a nervous disorder that they called psychic blindness.

The Disease of the Moon: The Linguistic and Pathological Evolution of the English Term “Lunatic” by M. A. Riva; L. Tremolizzo; M. Spicci; C. Ferrarese; G. De Vito; G. C. Cesana and V. A. Sironi. The abstract reads:

The public opinion and the scientific community incorrectly believe that the English term “lunatic” was originally related only to insanity, but it also referred to epileptic people. The aim of this article is to clarify the original meaning of the English word “lunatic” by analyzing the evolution of the relationship between psychiatric and neurological diseases and by pointing out the influence of the moon in the history of medicine, in popular traditions, and in English literature. The article also contains a detailed and accurate review of the modern scientific literature on the relationship between moon and epilepsy/psychiatric disorders.
More information, as well as a complete table of contents, can be found here.

Review – Joost Vijselaar, Het gesticht

Le livre de Joost Vijselaar, professeur d’histoire de psychiatrie à l’université d’Utrecht, est issu d’un plus large projet de recherche plus large relatif à l’histoire de la psychiatrie au Pays-Bas, projet de recherche mené par Marijke Gijswijt-Hofstra et Harry Oosterhuis. Plusieurs autres ouvrages sont nés de ce projet dont une synthèse sur le sujet et une étude sur la professionnalisation des psychiatres hollandais, alors que celui-ci se focalise sur l’histoire des patients. Depuis l’article séminal de Roy Porter sur cette thématique, publié en 1985 et intitulé ‘The patient’s view’, l’historiographie internationale commence à produire un corpus d’études conséquent sans cependant provoquer une révolution copernicienne dans l’écriture de l’histoire de la médecine, toujours largement dominée par les médecins et leurs découvertes scientifiques. Vu la multiplicité des sujets qu’offre une histoire de cette discipline appréhendée à travers les patients, Joost Vijselaar a décidé de se concentrer sur une problématique en particulier: l’entrée et la sortie des patients. En se basant sur un échantillon de dossiers médicaux de trois institutions psychiatriques des Pays-Bas, l’auteur retrace avec beaucoup de détails les conditions sociales et médicales qui conduisent le plus souvent la famille à faire appel à une institution psychiatrique. L’entrée à l’asile proprement dite est ensuite décrite en examinant aussi bien des critères de classe que de genre et de génération. Après un chapitre sur les traitements qui sort un peu de la trame du reste du livre mais qui est d’actualité, Vijselaar accompagne alors les patients sur le chemin inverse, vers la sortie de l’institution psychiatrique. L’auteur bascule habilement entre étude quantitative et qualitative. Il démontre le rôle central des asiles dans la gestion sociale de populations marginalisées. Il convainc également par son plaidoyer de tenir davantage compte d’autres acteurs comme la famille ou la police pour comprendre la psychiatrie. Het gesticht est une étude d’histoire sociale convaincante sur l’histoire des patients en psychiatrie dans le premier vingtième siècle. Trois choix de l’auteur invitent néanmoins à discussion. Le premier, ce sont les frontières chronologiques. L’auteur commence son étude vers 1890, à un moment où le modèle asilaire se stabilise dans la plupart des pays européens. Il clôt son récit en 1950, arguant que l’introduction des neuroleptiques, le changement de la nature des patients et l’ouverture vers une psychiatrie moins fermée constitue une véritable rupture. Cette apparente cassure n’est cependant pas étudiée, mais simplement postulée. Ce récit proposé par les psychiatres commence à être réinterrogé de plus en plus sérieusement par les historiens. L’expérience des patients auraient pu éclairer davantage la discussion. Deuxièmement, dans un livre qui retrace l’histoire de tels patients, j’aurai aimé lire davantage la parole de ces « reclus ». Or leur histoire est essentiellement racontée à travers les écrits des médecins. Certes travailler avec les lettres, dessins, histoires rédigés par les patients pose de nombreux écueils méthodologiques, mais si on ne veut pas doubler l’enfermement asilaire par un enfermement historiographique, il faut trouver des moyens d’intégrer les narrations de leur vécu dans l’histoire de la psychiatrie. Troisièmement, l’auteur a choisi l’échelle locale comme angle d’approche et je partage avec lui la conviction que ce regard est particulièrement riche. Mais je pense également que cette méthode n’a de sens que lorsque l’auteur, à un moment ou un autre de son écriture, pratique ce que Jacques Revel a appelé le « jeux d’échelles » et se frotte notamment aux grands récits qui sont légion et souvent contradictoires pour l’histoire de la psychiatrie.

Benoît Majerus

Joost Vijselaar, Het gesticht. Enkele reis of retour, Amsterdam, Boom, 2010.

Ce compte-rendu a également été publié dans studium 3 (3), 2010, p. 64.

A Discussion about the Insanity Defense in the U.S.

In the wake of the recent shooting of a congresswoman in Arizona, The New York Times this week published an interesting discussion about the insanity defense in the United States.  The piece features comments from prominent legal scholars and psychiatrists.

There has been much speculation that the lawyers for Jared Loughner, who has been charged in the Tucson shootings, may mount an insanity defense. Since John Hinckley Jr. was acquitted of trying to kill President Reagan, the use of the insanity defense has become very restricted in federal cases. Arizona, along with several other states, no longer allows a finding of not guilty by reason of insanity.

In the three decades since the Hinckley case, brain research and brain scans have made many advances in diagnosing and categorizing mental illness. Yet this seems to have little bearing on how society deals with insanity and culpability in the legal arena.

What has been learned in the decades since the Hinckley case? Should a better medical understanding of mental illness alter our legal definitions of insanity? Or is the insanity defense rooted in principles or traditions that actually don’t have much to do with medicine?

Review – Transnational Psychiatries: Social and Cultural Histories of Psychiatry in Comparative Perspective c. 1800-2000. Editors: Waltraud Ernst and Thomas Mueller (Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2010)

By Yumi Kim

Rallying cries for more comparative and transnational histories have resounded for the past two decades. Even so, it has not been easy for the sub-field of the history of psychiatry to break out of the conceptual framework of the singular nation-state. But change is in the air. In Transnational Psychiatries: Social and Cultural Histories of Psychiatry in Comparative Perspective c. 1800-2000, editors Waltraud Ernst and Thomas Mueller present a compilation of eleven historical case studies that track psychiatric encounters and exchanges of all kinds—people, ideas, institutions, and materialsacross geo-cultural regions as far-flung as South America, Asia and Europe. It is the first of its kind. Other recent volumes about psychiatry in an international context have simply juxtaposed chapters focused on single nations or included a few comparative studies.[i] In contrast, every chapter of Transnational Psychiatries engages with at least one methodology of comparative history: systematic comparison, transfer, shared history, histoire croisée (crossed history), and transnational history. The themes examined include the transfer of treatment practices and institutional regimes; the impact of war and politics on psychiatric discourse; cultural meanings of psychiatric terms; circulation of anti-alienists’ views; and local forms of patient care. The result is a stimulating introduction to the complexities of exploring the history of psychiatry from a truly global perspective.

The study of psychiatry in colonial settings in particular lends itself well to studies of the transnational circulation of knowledge, as demonstrated in the respective chapters by Waltraud Ernst and Jacqueline Leckie on the Indian Mental Hospital at Ranchi in the 1920s to 1940s and the institutionalization of the mentally ill in Fiji at the turn of the twentieth century. The development of psychiatry in the British colonies, they suggest, was not influenced exclusively (or even primarily) by information flowing in from the metropole; rather, psychiatry took on global dimensions. The Superintendent of Ranchi, J.E. Dhunjibhoy, for instance, implemented the latest therapies that first appeared in internationally circulated journals, corresponded with leading psychiatrists in continental Europe, and toured mental hospitals in North America. And Leckie reminds us that psychiatry in the colonies was also “local,” entangled in indigenous conceptions of madness and concerns of the community. Ernst and Leckie’s studies also prompt further questions about the directions in which ideas were transferred: did knowledge developed in the colonies travel back to the metropole? How did psychiatric practices in one colony (Fiji) affect those in another (New Caledonia)?

Four other chapters also address the process of historical “transfer,” or how material objects and expert knowledge were adapted and reconstructed within different socio-cultural contexts. Junko Kitanaka writes about the varied meanings of depression in Japan while Akira Hashimoto explores how the model of psychiatric foster family care in the Flemish town of Gheel made its way into Japan in the early twentieth century. Akihito Suzuki also addresses Japanese psychiatry in the 1920s and 1930s by examining the adaptation of shock therapies in vogue at the time. In another chapter, Yolanda Eraso analyzes academic exchanges between German and Argentinean doctors that resulted in the establishment of work therapy for mentally ill patients in Argentina. These chapters, like those of Ernst and Leckie, highlight the global dimensions of psychiatric exchanges in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Although these case studies unfortunately tend to reinforce the assumption that ideas were almost always disseminated from the West to the East and the South, they do begin to reveal how such ideas and practices were transformed, generalized, or abandoned in extra-European settings. These chapters encourage us to trace the dynamic of changing relations between various parts of the world.

This volume also recasts well-known national histories of psychiatry in a new comparative light. Through the systematic comparison of European nations, contributors Thomas Mueller, Catherine Fussinger, and Annick Ohayon demonstrate the distinct—if parallel—national paths followed by different psychiatric institutions and professionals in the past century. Mueller compares the development of psychiatric family care in Belgium, France, and Germany from the 1880s to 1980s. Psychiatric family care had been practiced in all three countries but in the course of the twentieth century, as a result of National Socialist health policies, Germany abandoned family-care entirely until the mid-1980s, whereas in France and Belgium family care provision returned immediately after liberation from German occupation. In their chapter, Fussinger and Ohayon compare the reception of psychoanalysis in Switzerland and France in the 1950s, following the debate over the extent to which psychotherapy ought to figure in the training of psychiatrists. They untangle issues of professional autonomy, institutional recognition, and local politics in order to explain how psychotherapy became formally recognized as an integral part of psychiatry in Switzerland, but was considered optional training for psychiatrists in France.

At their best, comparative and transnational histories track the movement of objects, people, and ideas in a way that undermines stark binaries—East-West, colony-metropole, elite-subaltern—and ultimately enables us to see modernity as the multifaceted and multidirectional process that it always has been. Transnational Psychiatries helps us take a step in that direction, even though at times some of its contributors continue to use an inherited vocabulary of binaries or trace the movement of knowledge in one direction only. As a whole, this innovative volume reminds us that even when the nation-state is a logical unit of analysis to explain some developments in the history of psychiatry, such “national” stories cannot be told without reference to larger international political and cultural contexts.

Yumi Kim is a PhD student in the Department of History at Columbia University. She specializes in the history of mental illness in modern Japan.

[i] R. Porter and D. Wright, The Confinement of the Insane: International Perspectives, 1800-1965 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003); M. Gijswijt-Hofstra, H. Oosterhuis, J. Vijselaar and H. Freeman (eds), Psychiatric Cultures Compared: Psychiatry and Mental Health Care in the Twentieth Century: Comparisons and Approaches (Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2005); R. Bivins and J.V. Pickstone (eds), Medicine, Madness and Social History (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007); L. Topp, J. Moran and J. Andrews (eds), Madness, Architecture and the Built Environment: Psychiatric Spaces in Historical Context (London and New York: Routledge, 2007); and S. Mahone and M. Vaughan (eds), Psychiatry and Empire (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007).

happy birthday h-madness

A year ago, we published our first post on Soon, an editorial board was set up and h-madness found its place in the blogosphere. In the last year, we have published 207 posts, this one included. We have had 53 000 page views – the busiest day having been March 17, 2010 when we launched our discussion on DSM-V. We plan on forging ahead and encourage our readers to initiate discussions about our posts through comments. We would also like to thank all the authors of the last year. Here are some statistics (for the geeks out there).

280 readers follow the blog through e-mail notification and 160 through a feed-reader.

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