New issue – History of Psychiatry

The March 2011 issue of History of Psychiatry is now out and includes the following articles:

“The mental health sector and the social sciences in post-World War II USA. Part 1: Total war and its aftermath” (Andrew Scull)

This paper examines the impact of World War II and its aftermath on the mental health sector, and traces the resulting transformations in US psychiatry and psychology. Focusing on the years between 1940 and 1970, it analyses the growing federal role in funding training and research in the mental health sector, the dominance of psychoanalysis within psychiatry in these years, and the parallel changes that occurred in both academic and clinical psychology.

“From social pathologies to individual psyches: psychiatry navigating socio-political currents in 20th-century Latvia” (Agita Luse)

The paper explores psychiatry’s responses to the twentieth-century socio-political currents in Latvia by focusing on social objectives, clinical ideologies, and institutional contexts of Soviet mental health care. The tradition of German biological psychiatry in which Baltic psychiatrists had been trained blended well with the materialistic monism of Soviet psychoneurology. Pavlov’s teaching of the second signal system was well suited to Soviet ideological needs: speech stimuli were seen as a vehicle for moulding the individual’s mind. The transformation in diagnostic practices during the 1970s and 1980s reflected the demise of optimism about the capacity of the self to model itself to the needs of the society. Latvian psychiatry was prepared to embrace more individualistic and pessimistic theories of the self.

“‘Good in all respects’: appearance and dress at Staffordshire County Lunatic Asylum, 1818-54” (Rebecca Wynter)

Dress was integral to the ideals and practice of Staffordshire County Lunatic Asylum, an institution catering for all social classes. Lunatics’ appearance was used to gauge the standard of care inside the asylum and beyond. Clothing was essential for moral treatment and physical health. It helped to denote social and institutional class: clothes were integral to paupers’ admission; rich patients spent time and money dressing; for disturbed inmates and those who destroyed asylum attire, the consequence could be ‘secure dress’, which was fundamental to therapeutics. Later, when an ethos of non-restraint was introduced, the superintendent used patients’ appearance to propagate an image of his enlightened care.

“Sexuality and psychoanalytic aggrandisement: Freud’s 1908 theory of cultural history” (Patricia Cotti)

In 1908, in his article ‘“Civilized” sexual morality and modern nervous illness’, Freud presented neuroses as the consequence of a restrictive state of cultural development and its ‘civilized morality’. He found the inspiration for this idea by expanding upon previous formulations in this area by his predecessors (notably Christian von Ehrenfels) that focused on a cultural process earlier introduced by Kant, while also integrating in his analysis the principles of Haeckel’s evolutionism (history of development, recapitulation) which eventually re-defined the psychoanalytic theory of neuroses. These new theoretical elements became the basis of psychoanalytic theory and thereby influenced subsequent thinking in the cultural process itself and in human sciences. This transformation of underlying theory provided a unique historical and analytical framework for psychoanalysis which allowed Freud to claim for it a pre-eminent position among the human sciences.

“Infanticide in Mecklenburg and Western Pomerania: documents from four centuries (1570—1842)” (Günther Häßler and Frank Häßler)

In this study we present an unprecedented comprehensive overview of cases of infanticide in the region of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, from the end of the 16th century to the middle of the 19th century. Using the Faculty of Law’s verdict files stored in the University of Rostock’s archives, we analysed and evaluated 362 cases. Changes in the prosecution of this crime, in the way the trials were conducted and in the passing of sentences illustrate the judicial conceptions of the academics, as well as being of great social interest. For the almost exclusively female defendants, behavioural patterns occurred repeatedly: shame, confusion and hopelessness triggered concealment of the pregnancy and ultimately the deliberate or negligent killing of the newborn child.

“Vitamins for the soul: John Bowlby’s thesis of maternal deprivation, biomedical metaphors and the deficiency model of disease” (Eduardo Duniec and Mical Raz)

In 1951 John Bowlby, British psychoanalyst and child psychiatrist, published his now famous report, Maternal Care and Mental Health, commissioned by the World Health Organization. In this report, Bowlby coined the term ‘maternal deprivation’, which quickly permeated into Western psychiatry and psychology. The implications of Bowlby’s writings, while widely criticized and contested, generated a considerable amount of research and brought about significant changes in perceptions of separation between children and their mothers. This article examines the origins of the ‘maternal deprivation’ hypothesis, focusing on how the deficiency theory of disease influenced psychiatric discourse, and framed Bowlby’s theory of maternal care. We argue that developments in paediatric medicine, and particularly in the field of nutritional deficiencies, provided Bowlby a prototype for conceptualizing his early views on the psychological needs of children and the development of psychopathology.

A complete table of content can be found at http://hpy.sagepub.com/content/vol22/issue1/?etoc

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  1. I was glad to see that Andrew Scull is writing about the second world war and total war. I did a series here on that subject: http://clarespark.com/2010/04/18/links-to-nazi-sykewar-american-style/. Plus consult my website for numerous postings on Henry Murray and his cohort at Harvard and elsewhere.

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