Archive for July, 2012

New book announcement – Dosed: The Medication Generation Grows Up

Kaitlin Bell Barnett, Dosed: The Medication Generation Grows Up (Beacon Press 2012)


For more see here

Book Review – Mikkel Borch-Jacobsen and Sonu Shamdasani, The Freud Files: An Inquiry into the History of Psychoanalysis (Cambridge Univ. Press 2012)

Mikkel Borch-Jacobsen and Sonu Shamdasani, The Freud Files: An Inquiry into the History of Psychoanalysis (Cambridge Univ. Press 2012)

Mikkel Borch-Jacobsen, Making Minds and Madness: From Hysteria to Depression (Cambridge Univ. Press 2009)


By Simon Taylor

Beginning with the French publication of The Freudian Subject in 1982, Mikkel Borch-Jacobsen has established himself as one of this generation’s foremost historians of psychoanalysis. Strongly influenced by the intellectual atmosphere of late-1970s France – including the thought of his teachers Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe and Jean-Luc Nancy – his work is known for its dense theoretical expositions, close readings, and forensic attention to detail. It has also, from the beginning, been characterized by a relentless and penetrating critique of Freud and the psychoanalytic endeavour as a whole; as early as The Freudian Subject, Borch-Jacobsen declared that, “All this (psychoanalysis, in short) was nothing but a great egoistic dream” bolstered not only by Freud himself, but also by “the throng of parricidal listeners and readers.” (239) He has, if anything, become more strident in his criticism since then, most notably in his work on hypnosis and his deconstruction of the “first analysis,” Remembering Anna O.: A Century of Mystification. Taken together, the two works under review – The Freud Files, co-written by the equally prominent Jung scholar Sonu Shamdasani, and a collection of essays dating from 1994-2008 entitled Making Minds and Madness – constitute something approaching Borch-Jacobsen’s definitive statement on Freud and his legacy.


The Freud Files takes the form of a full-frontal assault on what the authors, following the example of Henri Ellenberger and Frank Sulloway, refer to as the “Freudian legend.” The legend, at least as Borch-Jacobsen and Shamdasani conceive it, consists of two separate elements: the myth of Freud’s self-analysis and what they refer to as the “immaculate conception” of psychoanalysis. Combined, these myths constitute nothing less than a complete rewriting of the historical record, a sleight of hand that subsequent generations of analysts, historians, and the public at large have been complicit in perpetrating. In tandem with the sequestering of the Sigmund Freud Archives – a cache of material protected by an extraordinary set of restrictions engineered, according to the authors, to ensure that the true record of the birth of psychoanalysis would remain off-limits to all but the faithful “guardians” (28) of Freud’s legacy and justified by the spurious demands of patient confidentiality – these myths have for many decades deliberately placed the Freudian legend beyond the scrutiny of historians. “For a discipline concerned with the past,” the authors note, “psychoanalysis is strangely allergic to its own history.” (32)

Much of The Freud Files is devoted to undermining the myths that bolster the legend. Let us take them in turn, beginning with the immaculate conception. Although virtually every aspect of Freud’s theory that we take to be distinctively psychoanalytic had been formulated by his predecessors or contemporaries – from Schopenhauer’s adumbration of repression and the sexology of Krafft-Ebing and Havelock Ellis to Hartmann’s “philosophy of the unconscious” and Breuer and Anna O.’s development of the “talking cure” – Freud and his followers first argued, and then simply affirmed again and again, that these sources had played no role in the development of psychoanalysis. Indeed, by his own account, it was not until “very late in [his] life” that Freud even read Schopenhauer and Nietzsche (106). Alfred Tauber has recently demonstrated the extent to which Freud’s professions of philosophical ignorance were a fabrication, and Borch-Jacobsen and Shamdasani are unequivocal in their assessment of Freud’s claims to “theoretical virginity”: the history that Freud so carefully constructed is nothing more than “a fable, a scientific fairytale” designed to “establish [his] autocratic political authority through affirming the absolute originality of the theory.” (106-7)

Another crucial aspect of Freud’s attempt to affirm “exclusive rights over his creation” (106) were his claims that 1) he had carried out a successful self-analysis; and 2) that this self-analysis could not – in either a technical or a moral sense – be replicated by anyone else. Freud used the first claim – the example of his self-analysis, where analysis entailed not merely observing but actively curing oneself, as Freud claimed to have done – to insist that all psychoanalysts submit to their own analysis as a prerequisite of professional development; he used the second claim to insist that such analyses could only be carried out by an external authority. As the “primal analyst,” (38) this left Freud in an incredibly powerful position, especially in the initial years of psychoanalysis: as the only authority capable of dispensing analysis, Freud established himself as the profession’s gatekeeper.

In one stroke, Freud had cemented his own position at the top of the psychoanalytic hierarchy and delegitimized the authority of his rivals. He had, furthermore, simultaneously insulated himself from any attempts at being analysed by others – which would both call into question Freud’s own omniscience and strengthen the hand of his rivals – and reserved for himself a monopoly on diagnosing the (alleged) psychopathologies of others, a power that Freud and his followers made liberal use of in their disputes with Adler, Rank, Jung, et al. It is important to understand that Borch-Jacobsen and Shamdasani’s point here is epistemological as well as institutional: “Freud’s self-analysis,” they write, “became the central pillar of psychoanalytic theory. Without it, psychoanalysis would collapse into a chaos of rival interpretations, with no means to adjudicate between them.” (52) Unsurprisingly, however, the authors conclude that what they term Freud’s “heroic self-analysis” “never took place.” (54)

It is not so much that Borch-Jacobsen and Shamdasani doubt that self-analysis is possible, as they doubt that analysis of any kind is possible. Freud’s self-analysis, like all psychoanalytic case studies, was nothing more than a “retrospective construction.” (54) Indeed, this is the most that psychoanalysis can ever hope for. As Borch-Jacobsen argues in an essayentitled “Is Psychoanalysis a Fairy-Tale?” – the answer, it may not surprise you to learn, is a resounding yes – psychoanalytic case-studies are nothing more than “historical novels or romanticized biographies” (Making Minds, 151) in the vein of Zweig or Balzac, what the novelist Paul Auster once referred to as “the anecdote as a form of knowledge.” To use the slightly clumsy neologism coined by Borch-Jacobsen and Shamdasani, these case studies represent “interprefactions,” (144-45) a reificatory process through which “Freud created facts with words.” (Making Minds, ix)

The debunking of Freud’s case-studies, beginning with his own, is the most convincing section of The Freud Files: especially impressive is the manner in which Borch-Jacobsen and Shamdasani complement their epistemological critique with a highly controlled and precise use of archival material. There are times, however, when the sheer volume of archival and primary source material threatens to overwhelm and even undermine the argument. The authors have employed what they describe as a “polyphonic” approach to quotation, which in practice entails “deliberately cho[osing] to cite excerpts in extenso, letting the historical actors speak in their own voices.” (28)

Although the logic behind this method is sound – the material, lying behind the lock and key of the Freud archives, was so difficult to access and offers such a radically different interpretation of the origins of psychoanalysis that only direct and extensive quotation can do it justice – this maximalist approach can at times lend The Freud Files the appearance of a Renaissance commonplace book. Furthermore, and contrary to the apparent expectations of the authors, many of the passages quoted do not speak for themselves. Perhaps more damagingly, the sheer volume of critical material produced to dismantle Freud’s claims has the paradoxical effect of serving to, if not necessarily justify, then certainly explicate, the defensive and revisionary strategies of Freud and his disciples: faced with overwhelming hostility (painstakingly catalogued by Borch-Jacobsen and Shamdasani) from the established medical and psychiatric authorities, Freud’s efforts to carve out a position of professional security and prestige, and his subsequent policing of those boundaries, come across as unsurprising, even understandable.

More troublingly still, the argument of The Freud Files at times resembles little more than a sustained ad hominem attack on the integrity and character of Freud and his followers. No doubt Borch-Jacobsen and Shamdasani would counter that in a discipline as intimately bound up with the personality of its founder as psychoanalysis – a body of knowledge that, after all, regards the introspective reflections of its progenitor as both foundational and paradigmatic – such a strategy is not only fair game but inescapable. The problem with this line of argument is that it presupposes that psychoanalysis is nothing more than a series of case studies and personal anecdotes. It is, however, equally plausible to argue that psychoanalysis is nothing less than the series of extraordinary metapsychological papers, bookended by “Formulations Regarding the Two Principles in Mental Functioning” and “Mourning and Melancholia,” that Freud published between, roughly, 1911-1917.

The total omission of Freud’s metapsychology is especially problematic given the severity of the authors’ conclusions: psychoanalysis, they declare, is “Nothing – or nearly nothing […]: it is a ‘machine’, a ‘whatsit’, a ‘thingumajig’ which can serve to designate anything, an empty theory in which one can cram whatever one likes.” (303) More striking still are their claims about the implications for the contemporary practice of psychoanalysis: “one could say that psychoanalysis, in a certain sense, no longer exists – or rather, never did.” (307). Borch-Jacobsen reaches similar conclusions in a number of essays contained within Making Minds, including the aforementioned “Fairy-Tale” and a piece entitled “Interprefactions: Freud’s Legendary Science” (co-written with Shamdasani) that informs much of the methodology of The Freud Files, from which we learn that “what Freud actually did […] was to form a self-confirming apparatus which could produce, suggest evidence for whatever theory one liked.” (Making Minds, 171). In “Simulating the Unconscious” Borch-Jacobsen concludes that “there is no ‘psychic reality’ to discover or to describe in the subject, only realities to produce and to negotiate with him.” (Making Minds, 136).

These are huge claims, as befits a book of the scope, ambition, and prodigious scholarship of The Freud Files. For, despite the criticisms above, the monograph and essay collection under review constitute a formidable and, for the most part, highly persuasive critique of Freud and his legacy; indeed, this review can only hint at the depth of argumentation and rich analysis contained within their pages. Nevertheless, it is hard to shake the feeling that Borch-Jacobsen’s dismantling of the psychoanalytic edifice is perhaps a little too thorough, even as its implications remain underdeveloped. Assuming that we accept the logic of his criticisms, what are we left with? What is the mind? What is mental illness beyond constructivism? Nothing? Something? There are a number of contemporary philosophers, neurologists, and psychologists who offer potential answers to these questions, but Borch-Jacobsen isn’t one of them. As an historian, perhaps he feels justified in not having to engage with such questions. Equally, however, as an historian of psychoanalysis he has, or ought to have, a vested interest in offering alternative paths for investigation. After all, if, as Borch-Jacobsen argues in the methodological essay that opens Making Minds, mental illness is nothing more than a particularly complex and fluid social construct – an open dialogue between analyst, patient, and society at large – what more is there to say on the subject? In order to answer what then becomes the truly pressing question – why does a given form or manifestation of “illness” establish itself as the predominant mode of mental expression in a particular time and place? – we must surely seek an answer beyond the confines of the history of the psyences. We must become cultural historians: that is the true implication of a history that denies the existence of the object it studies.


Simon Taylor is a graduate student in the Department of History at Columbia University. He specializes in modern European intellectual history, particularly the history of philosophy and the psyences. He is writing his dissertation on the medicalization of the concept of anxiety. Simon previously reviewed Alfred Tauber’s Freud, The Reluctant Philosopher for h-madness.

Book Review – François Dosse, Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari: Intersecting Lives. Trans. Deborah Glassman (Columbia University Press, 2010)

By Jon Beasley-Murray


Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari’s Anti-Oedipus surely has some of the most remarkable opening lines of any work of philosophy or cultural critique. First published in France in 1972, just a few years after the demonstrations of May 1968, its stylish bravado immediately reminds us of the attitudes struck by student agitators, and proclaims that their radical energies persist: “It is at work everywhere, functioning smoothly at times, as other times in fits and starts. It breathes, it heats, it eats. It shits and fucks. What a mistake to have ever said the id.” The original French is even more striking, playing on the fact that “id” and “it” are both “ça” (“Ça fonctionne partout . . . Quelle erreur d’avoir dit le ça.”). “It” is a machinic unconscious that is defined not by what it represents, but by what it produces: “Everywhere it is machines–real ones, not figurative ones: machines driving other machines, machines being driven by other machines, with all the necessary couplings and connections” (Anti-Oedipus 1). The question “what does it mean?” gives way to “how does it work?” As Deleuze and Guattari go on to declare in their second enquiry into “Capitalism and Schizophrenia,” A Thousand Plateaus: “We will never ask what a book means, as signified or signifier: we will not look for anything to understand in it. We will ask what it functions with, in connection with what other things it does or does not transmit intensities, in which other multiplicities its own are inserted and metamorphosed” (A Thousand Plateaus 4). They therefore refuse any attempt to derive meaning from biography, to reduce the work to its author(s). Indeed, they disclaim authorship as anything but a matter of arbitrary convenience and custom: “Why have we kept our own names? Out of habit, purely out of habit. To make ourselves unrecognizable in turn. [. . .] We are no longer ourselves. Each will know his own. We have been aided, inspired, multiplied” (A Thousand Plateaus 3-4).

Deleuze and Guattari’s skepticism about interpretation and authorship does not, however, mean that any attempt to write their biography is doomed. In the first place, there is no reason why a biographer should accept his or her subjects’ own strictures. There is no need for a Life of Marx to be Marxist, for instance. Otherwise, all biographies would be hagiographies, explications written solely by disciples and camp-followers. They would be third-party autobiographies, attempts to outline a subject’s own ideal self-understanding without taking the distance necessary for critique or contextualization. And surely Deleuze and Guattari’s denial of meaning or authorial presence should put any analyst on the alert: what are they trying to hide? Indeed ultimately Dosse, rather conventionally, concludes that their work is best explained “as a displaced effect of the shattering consequences of the values and triumph of Nazism” (520). It is shaped by the fact that each just missed World War II and experienced its trauma only “tangentially and after the fact” (Deleuze’s older brother joined the Resistance and was caught and killed en route to a Concentration Camp), but that both men found compensation in May ’68, in which they “participated fully.” “Particularly sensitive to the issues of their period,” Dosse claims, “they immediately understood that these events were creating a rupture and starting something new” (521). But precisely the bathos of this conclusion makes us wish for a rather more radical approach to biography. For even if one were to accept fully their arguments against biographical interpretation, one could still quite easily imagine a Deleuzoguattarian account of the machinic processes, the connections and multiplicities and intensities, that the proper names merely cloak. If “Deleuze and Guattari” is better seen as an assemblage or “arrangement” rather than simply the conjunction of two individuals, the makings of that arrangement–both its constituent elements and its product–can still be mapped and followed, albeit schizoanalytically rather than psychoanalytically. These two profoundly different men–Deleuze the stay-at-home philosopher, Guattari the ever-restless activist with a writer’s block–entered into a dance of mutual seduction and becoming not unlike that traced by orchid and wasp in their own analysis. Guattari unsettled Deleuze, firing him up and reframing his philosophy in newly political terms; and Deleuze made Guattari sit down at his desk every morning, and then “mail his daily draft” (7). Yet for all the intensity of their relationship, over almost three decades, they never stopped using the formal vous with each other.

One might even imagine a hybrid approach to the joint biography of Deleuze and Guattari, which would examine the eminently bourgeois origins of these two would-be firebrands–Deleuze’s father was an engineer whose politics were decidedly right-wing, even anti-Semitic; Guattari’s ran a factory and “became the director of a fairly prosperous business”–and show how they tried to escape, to make themselves “unrecognizable,” along what they would come to call a “line of flight,” but with sometimes uncertain success. For instance, for all his denunciation of familialism and denigration of family ties, Guattari was very close to his mother and devastated by her death in 1969, repeating over and over “I am an orphan” (70). And perhaps the most enigmatic of Deleuze’s gestures was his last, as he killed himself by leaping from his Paris apartment window: “suicide was so incongruent with Deleuze’s embodiment of a vital force and his philosophy of life that certain of his friends tried to see it as a send off, an ultimate final act” (498). But why in any case should we demand consistency of philosophers or writers? Is that not just another example of the reductionism that mars too many biographies? Or to put it in more Deleuzoguattarian terms, of course Deleuze and Guattari’s own lines of flight could become sites of reterritorialization or (as they put it in A Thousand Plateaus) could “sometimes end in chaos, the void and destruction, and sometimes lock us back into the strata, which become more rigid still, losing their degrees of diversity, differentiation, and mobility” (554). Dosse describes Guattari’s “nearly catatonic state” (427) during the depression that overcame him in his final years, as he sat “with a pillow pressed to his stomach as if to protect himself from the outside world, watching television programs for days on end” (425). He suggests that this decline owed in part to “many psychological frailties that had never been sufficiently addressed” (423) and refers us somewhat obliquely to Guattari’s early years, to childhood trauma, not least the “brutal encounter with death” when at nine years old young Félix witnessed his grandfather’s demise (24). (Though perhaps the truly traumatic aspect of this scene came when his grandmother “cut the ends of [the grandfather’s] ears to try to get his heart beating” and then “put a newspaper over her husband’s head to keep the flies off him” [24].)

The problem with Dosse’s book is that far too often it feels as though there is simply no particular strategy at work. It opens with a somewhat stunted attempt at conventional biography, which breaks off almost as soon as each of its subjects leaves home, after which we hear very little of parents or brothers, wives or children. Indeed, it is something of a shock when these familial figures re-appear around the deathbed or at the funeral. Guattari’s elder brother, for instance, is pictured “surprised and disturbed by the enumeration of [Félix’s] various feminine conquests in front of his brother’s tomb” (494), but we might be equally surprised to be reminded that Guattari had a brother at all. And yet the book features a couple of intriguing photographs of the Guattari clan–one showing the three brothers with their trousers rolled up as though coming from the beach, yet two are dressed in jackets and one even wears a tie plus a neatly folded handkerchief in his top pocket. But nothing is said of this. Likewise, there are a couple of truly extraordinary images of Deleuze with his brother, Georges: one in which they are both in some kind of costume, Gilles a toddler with a top hat and polka dot jacket; and the other in which they are wearing tennis gear, Gilles turning his head towards his sibling. In both instances, the older brother lays his hand, gently and protectively, on the younger boy’s shoulder. But having briefly noted the significance of Georges’s wartime death, Dosse never returns to the subject.

More consistently, the book tends towards offering a portrait of an intellectual milieu, not unlike Elisabeth Roudinesco’s magnificent collective biography of French psychoanalysis, Jacques Lacan and Co. In that Deleuze and Guattari came into contact with just about every major figure of post-war French philosophy and psychiatry, as well as many other major cultural and intellectual figures–Deleuze was a high-school friend of the novelist Michel Tournier and Guattari collaborated with playwrights, painters, and film directors–we are often confronted with long lists of names, some more familiar to Anglo-American readers than others. The “intersecting lives” outlined here belong also to Jean Hyppolite, Louis Althusser, Jean Oury, R. D. Laing, Michel Foucault, Toni Negri, Jean-François Lyotard, Alain Badiou, Eric Alliez, and on and on. Yet Dosse remains too focused on his two principal actors to make this successful as an institutional biography. The secondary characters only have the spotlight so long as they interact in some way with Deleuze and Guattari, and what happens when they are on their own is ultimately of as little interest as Rosencrantz and Guildenstern’s adventures are to Shakespeare’s Hamlet. As a result, for instance, we get here a strangely partial view of Badiou, who features only as a putative rival to Deleuze at Vincennes, leading Maoist hit-squads to interrupt his colleague’s seminars, and later (allegedly) traducing his work in Deleuze: The Clamor of Being. Meanwhile, key absences make this very incomplete as a history of post-war philosophy after structuralism. Most notably, perhaps, of Jacques Derrida there is barely a trace.

Dosse observes that multiplicity, connection, and heterogeneity are basic features of both Deleuze and Guattari’s worldview and their literary and philosophical style. Their work is astonishingly eclectic and wide-ranging, touching on Anthropology, History, Politics, Biology, Geology, Mathematics, and so on. It may be in homage to this proliferation that Dosse, too, amasses information from his exhaustive research, wide reading, and many interviews of everyone from Deleuze’s wife Fanny or Guattari’s son Bruno to students, friends, collaborators, and critics. But overwhelmingly the logic structuring this concatenation of material is less the “creative stammering” of “and . . . and . . . and“ that Dosse quotes from Deleuze in his book’s penultimate paragraph (523), and more the banal contiguity of “also” that suggests proximity without any real relation. “Also” is Gosse’s conjunction of choice, appearing every other page or so. To take one series almost at random: “Deleuze and Foucault also admitted” (316); “What was also playing out” (317); “and also strongly influenced” (318); “Foucault also drew on Stoic arguments” (319); “they were also very different” (320); “narratives that were also manuals” (321); and so on and so forth. Or frequently there are simply no conjunctions at all. Non sequitur piles up on non sequitur. Chronology is abandoned; to take but one example, the chapter entitled “The Year of Combat: 1977” in fact takes us in one page from 1997 to 1970 to 1995 to “the 1970s” to “the late 1980s” (367). The overall effect is often extremely bitty and disconnected. Quotations (a sentence or more long) are rarely introduced or contextualized, and it is only by recourse to the endnotes that a reader has any idea who is saying what when. This may perhaps sound suitably Deleuzoguattarian in its erasure of individuality or its bricolage of elements from diverse sources, but in practice it sacrifices any sense of texture, any feeling of differentiation or difference as information and opinion simply agglomerate, one damn thing after another. Accounts of texts by either Deleuze and Guattari or both are built up by collecting piecemeal other people’s précis or other people’s evaluations. The effect is often confusing and rarely illuminating: this is seldom a biography from which you feel you have gleaned a better understanding of Deleuze and Guattari’s work than you would by simply reading it yourself.

All of which prompts the question as to the purpose of this biography. If the life does not illuminate the work, and if the life is of no particular intrinsic interest itself (as is especially the case of Deleuze, who seems mostly to have read, written, and taught, and to have occasionally tagged along to events with his buddy Guattari), then why bother? Dosse suggests that one of his aims is to underline Guattari’s contribution to the collaboration, but a slim article rather than a bloated book could have achieved the same end. Especially compared to the brio and bravado of Deleuze and Guattari’s own work, which gets to the point so quickly and so memorably (“What a mistake to have ever said the id. Everywhere it is machines . . .”), it is a shame that their biography proceeds with so little drive or desire.


Works cited


Deleuze, Gilles, and Félix Guattari. Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia. Trans. Robert Hurley, Mark Seem, and Helen Lane. London: Athlone, 1984.

—–. A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia. Trans. Brian Massumi. London: Athlone, 1988.


Jon Beasley-Murray teaches at the University of British Columbia, where he is an Assosciate Professor in Hispanic Studies, specializing in Latin American studies and in social and political theory. He is the author of Post-Hegemony (University of Minnesota Press 2011).

New book announcement – Monkey Mind. A Memoir of Anxiety

Daniel Smith. Monkey Mind: A Memoir of Anxiety (Simon and Schuster, 2012)

For more see here

SSHM Conference 2012: Emotions, Health, and Wellbeing (London)

SSHM Conference 2012: Emotions, Health, and Wellbeing
In conjunction with QMUL’s Centre for the History of the Emotions
Queen Mary, University of London, 10–12 September 2012

Monday 10 September
9.00 Registration
9.30 Plenary lecture
Joanna Bourke (Birkbeck University of London)
[Title to be confirmed]
10.45 Coffee
11.00 Panel sessions
Medieval England
Katherine Harvey (King’s College London)
Episcopal emotions: weeping in the life of the medieval bishop
Rebecca McNamara (University of Sydney)
Fever, madness, anguish: suicide and the emotions in thirteenth-century English legal records
Ioana Balgradean (University of Geneva)
Corporeity, emotion, and medieval poetics
Fiction and Philosophy
Lina Minou (Loughborough University)
Envy as pathology and eighteenth-century fiction
Neil MacFarlane (Birkbeck College)
Phrenology, mesmerism, and the reptilian personality in Little Dorrit
Demelza Hookway (University of Exeter)
John Stuart Mill and the ‘perfect disease’ of sensitiveness
Managing the Emotions in the History of Nursing
Julie Anderson (University of Kent)
‘Suited to Nurse Officers and Men’: character, emotion, and disability in the First World War
Rosemary Wall (Imperial College London)
Marriages made in Empire: a motivation, recruitment strategy, and retention problem for nursing in the British Empire
Natasha McEnroe (The Florence Nightingale Museum)
From personality to profession: emotions running high in the Florence Nightingale Museum
Managing Emotions through Chemistry: Psychoactive Drugs since 1945
Matthew Smith (University of Strathclyde)
From energising ‘oldsters’ to calming children: Ritalin and the marketing of mental illness
Alison Haggett (University of Exeter)
‘Father’s little helper’: the pharmacological treatment of anxiety and depression in post-war men
Leah Songhurst (University of Exeter)
St John’s Wort: a ‘conventional alternative’ for treating mild to moderate depression
Children and Cancer
Robin Rohrer (Seton Hill University)
Emotion and the childhood cancer journey in the United States, 1930 to the present
Clare Parker (University of Adelaide)
The innocent child: initial responses to the thalidomide tragedy
Carsten Timmermann (University of Manchester)
‘Just give me the best quality of life questionnaire’: measuring the unmeasurable in cancer chemotherapy
12.30 Lunch
1.30 Panel sessions
Music and Emotion
Penelope Gouk (University of Manchester)
‘One of the greatest pleasures on earth’: music and wellbeing in the Enlightenment
Wiebke Thormählen (University of Southampton)
Lamenting at the piano: domestic music-making, wellbeing and mental health in eighteenth-century Britain
James Kennaway (Durham University)
Animal spirits, tubes and vibrating chords: models of nervous function and theories of music and emotion in eighteenth-century aesthetics and medicine
Hospital Settings
Matthew Newsom Kerr (Santa Clara University)
Public sphere, public’s fear: London isolation hospitals and the local politics of resistance, 1870–1900
Michael Brown (University of Roehampton)
A theatre of emotions: compassion and dispassion in early nineteenth-century surgery
Jon Arrizabalaga (Spanish National Research Council, Barcelona) and Guillermo Sánchez-Martínez (Navarra Public University)
Caring for wounded soldiers’ emotional wellbeing: humanitarian relief in the Spanish Second Carlist War (1872–76)
Wellbeing in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries
Janet Greenlees (Glasgow Caledonian University)
To provide ‘social services irrespective of class, creed or colour’: the Church of Scotland and the politics of wellbeing, c.1900–70
Petteri Pietikainen (University of Oulu)
From politicization to individualization of wellbeing in Finland, c.1970–2000
Annelie Drakman (Uppsala University)
Swedish provincial doctors’ reports of emotional hindrances for improving the peasantry’s health in the nineteenth century
Feeling Female
Katherine Angel (University of Warwick)
Post-feminist ontologies? Female sexual dysfunction, 1960–present
Lesley Hall (Wellcome Library)
‘Sentimental follies’ or ‘instruments of tremendous uplift’? Contrasting views of women’s same-sex relationships in interwar Britain
Martha Kirby (University of Glasgow)
Feeling fat: medical treatment of obesity and feminist cultural theory, 1945–90
Affect: The Ghost in the Machine
Matei Iagher (University College London)
‘The Emperor’s New Clothes?’: Pathologies of religious affect in the French psychology of religion (1901–38)
Sarah Chaney (University College London)
On the borderland: affect and attention-seeking in hysterical malingering
Andreas Sommer (University College London)
Exorcising the ghost from the machine: affect, emotion, and the enlightened naturalization of the ‘poltergeist’
Sarah Marks (University College London)
‘The Golem made real’: cybernetics, automatic machines and the reinterpretation of affect in Cold War Czechoslovakia
3.00 Tea
3.30 Panel sessions
Medieval Passions
Paola Baseotto (Insubria University)
Plague epidemics and emotion in early modern England
Kirsi Kanerva (University of Turku)
Bodily disturbances: emotion and disease in medieval Iceland
Fernando Salmón (University of Cantabria)
Joy as a therapeutic asset in medieval medicine
Medical Training and Practice
Tricia Close-Koenig (University of Strasbourg)
Supply and demand. The economic history of a medical school pathological anatomy laboratory
Sejal Patel (National Institute of Health)
Social cohesion and social support: comprehensive medicine and the re-formulation of general practice in the United States, 1950 to 1970
Laura Kelly (National University of Ireland, Galway)
Fear in the dissecting room: anatomy dissections and student experience at Irish universities in the early twentieth century
The Boundaries of the Family: Emotions and Wellbeing in Post-War Britain
Angela Davis (University of Warwick)
Promoting physical health and emotional wellbeing: childcare practice in local health authority day nurseries after World War Two
Laura King (University of Warwick)
Falling in love at first sight: masculinity, fatherhood, and childbirth in Britain in the post-war period
Claire Sewell (University of Warwick)
‘Schizophrenia has a “shattering effect” on families’: the emotional responses of familial carers of schizophrenia in post-war Britain
Locating Emotions in the Body: Transnational Perspectives on the Treatment of Emotional Disorders in East Asian Medicine
Volker Scheid (University of Westminster)
Depression, constraint, and the liver: (dis)assembling the treatment of emotion-related disorders in Chinese medicine
Keiko Daidoji (University of Keio)
Are emotions tangible? The conceptual and therapeutic transformation of emotion-related disorders in Japanese Kampo medicine
Eric Karchmer (University of Westminster)
The excitations and suppressions of the times: locating emotional disorders in the liver in modern Chinese medicine
Soyoung Suh (Dartmouth College)
Korean doctors between hwa-byung (fire-illness) and depression, 1930–2010
6.30 Reception at the Wellcome Library, London
Tuesday 11 September
9.00 Panel sessions
Early Modern Passions I
Lauren Johnson (Past Pleasures Ltd.)
‘Mirth is one of the chiefest things of Physick’: the importance of laughter to the health of Henry VIII’s court
Hanako Endo (Jissen Women’s University)
Bloodletting and the control of passion in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar
Susan Mills (Grant MacEwan University)
‘A fever caused by sadness’: a ‘mechanist’s’ psychosomatic medicine in the 1643–49 correspondence between René Descartes and Princess Elisabeth
Graeme Gooday (University of Leeds) and Karen Sayer (Leeds Trinity University College)
‘Out in the cold’: hearing loss, technology, and the politics of wellbeing
Emily Andrews (University of Warwick)
‘Freed from thraldom to passion’: emotion and old age nineteenth-century Britain
Paul Van Trigt (VU University Amsterdam)
Normal or exceptional? The emotional and sensitive blind in modern history
Military Emotions
Kellen Kurschinski (McMaster University)
Restoring body and mind: managing the emotions of disabled Canadian soldiers through occupational therapy and physical rehabilitation, 1915–23
Edgar Jones (King’s College London)
The mystery of medically unexplained symptoms: the soldier’s body as proxy for distress
Niklaus Ingold (University of Zurich)
Light showers in the dark: UV radiation, physical culture, and the wellbeing of the Wehrmacht in the Norwegian Arctic during World War Two
Emergent Psychiatric Categories
Chris Millard (Queen Mary, University of London)
‘Stress’, ‘distress’, and suicide attempts: 1960s psychiatry and an emotional continuum
Felicity Callard (Durham University)
From agoraphobia to panic disorder: disputes over anxiety in Anglo-American psychiatry from the 1960s to the 1980s
Emilia Musumeci (University of Catania)
Lacking in empathy: from morally insane to psychopath
Fertility and Motherhood
Barbara Brookes (University of Otago)
Managing parental emotions: disability in the new born
Gayle Davis (University of Edinburgh)
Desperately seeking motherhood: medical responses to the infertile patient in mid twentieth-century Scotland
Julianne Weis (University of Oxford)
Maternal wellbeing: conflicted origins of labour pain
10.30 Coffee
11.00 Plenary lecture
William Reddy (Duke University)
Striving to feel: the centrality of effort in the history of emotions
12.15 Lunch
1.30 Panel sessions
Early Modern Passions II
Elena Carrera (Queen Mary, University of London)
Provoking anger to restore health: medieval and Renaissance medical views
Tessa Storey (Royal Holloway, University of London)
‘It is the duty of the diligent doctor to investigate just how deeply this passion has penetrated his soul’: managing melancholy in late sixteenth-century Rome
Marlen Bidwell-Steiner (University of Vienna)
Bespoke Spanish passions in the early modern period
Death and Grief: Ireland, 1641–1936
Clodagh Tait (Mary Immaculate College)
‘Whereat his wife tooke great greef & died’: dying of sorrow and anger in seventeenth-century Ireland
David J Butler (University of Limerick)
Memorialising the Irish abroad: obituaries in nineteenth-century Irish newspapers
Ciara Breathnach (University of Limerick) and Eunan O’Halpin (Trinity College Dublin)
Concealing pain: evidence from coroners’ reports of the infant dead, 1919–36
Psychiatry and Patients
Vicky Long (Glasgow Caledonian University)
Resettling the long-stay patient into social life: psychiatric rehabilitation in post-war Britain
Jennifer Walke (London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine)
He’s not the Messiah? Diagnosing the therapeutic community
Hazel Morrison (University of Glasgow)
Moral imbecility and patient narratives within the confines of 1920s Gartnavel (Glasgow Royal Mental Hospital)
Rosa García-Orellán (Navarra Public University)
From ‘death foretold’ to ‘death unspoken’
Kathryn Ecclestone (University of Birmingham)
Psychologising the ‘vulnerable’ human subject? Shifts and continuities in political discourses of human behaviour change and emotional wellbeing
Adrian Howe (Queen Mary, University of London)
Othello and his syndrome
Emotional Behaviours
Hannah Newton (University of Cambridge)
‘Like rogues out of gaol’: spiritual responses to recovery from illness in early modern England
Lindsey Fitzharris (Queen Mary, University of London)
Cutting through the fear: the criminal dissected, 1751–1832
Catherine Marshall (University of Sheffield)
Emotion and verbally abusive behaviour in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century England
3.00 Tea
3.30 Panel sessions
Picturing Emotion
Elena Bonesi (University of Bologna)
Plague in art: some notes on the iconography of the sick body in early modern Italy
Susanna Ferlito (University of Minnesota)
Photographing female resentment: Countess Virginia Verasis di Castiglione’s clinical gaze
Anja Laukötter (Max Planck Institute for Human Development)
The politics of emotions in the medium of film
Emotions as Collective Experiences
Nike Fakiner (Spanish National Research Council, Madrid)
The decency of view: Zeiller’s anatomical museum and the general public
Fanny H Brotons (Spanish National Research Council, Madrid)
Shame, guilt and hope(lessness) in Spanish cancer sufferers of the second half of the nineteenth century
Juan Manuel Zaragoza (independent scholar)
Love, guilt, and resentment: marriage, illness, and the disturbing experience of care (1890–1910)
Public Health and the Management of Fear
Patricia Marsh (Queen’s University, Belfast)
Belfast’s own ‘Typhoid Mary’: the control of healthy typhoid ‘carriers’ in Belfast
Mark Honigsbaum (Zurich University)
‘A sense of dread is very general’: the First World War, the ‘Spanish’ flu, and the Northcliffe press
Alexia Moncrieff (University of Adelaide)
Disease and emotion in the Australian Imperial Force in the First World War
Extra-European Contexts
Rampaul Chamba (Open University)
The inter-generational transmission of psychic trauma: black African-Caribbean responses to ethnic disparities in schizophrenia
Ayesha Nathoo (University of Cambridge)
Appealing for humanity: the production and reception of the Disasters Emergency Committee’s 2011 East Africa crisis appeal
Arnel Joven (University of the Philippines)
‘The will to live!’ and other miracle cures: emotional support in the healing and survival among lowland civilians in the Philippines during the Japanese occupation period, 1941–45
Homesick Men
Thomas Dodman (Boston College)
Nostalgia: a deadly emotion at the time of the French Revolution
David Anderson (Swansea University)
Home is where the heart is: nostalgia as an emotional disease during the American Civil War
Susan Matt (Weber State University)
The transformation of nostalgia in the US Armed Forces, 1865–1945
5.15 Plenary lecture
Mark Jackson (University of Exeter)
The secret places of the heart
6.30 Conference reception and banquet
Wednesday 12 September
9.00 Panel sessions
Passions and the people
Arto Ruuska (University of Helsinki)
Thomas Trotter on the role of sociality and social passions in the development and treatment of the habit of drunkenness
Mariana Saad (Queen Mary, University of London)
‘To subjugate passion’ or ‘to restore harmony in the organs of sentiment’? The unspoken opposition between Pinel and Cabanis
Ross Macfarlane (Wellcome Library)
Blue beads, barrow boys, and bronchitis: negotiating the emotions in Edward Lovett’s folklore collection
Crime and Punishment
Willemijn Ruberg (Utrecht University)
Emotional tactics. Affect and Dutch forensic medicine in the nineteenth century
Victoria Bates (University of Exeter)
‘Perfectly collected’: emotional responses to sexual crime, 1850–1914
Jade Shepherd (Queen Mary, University of London)
‘The fiendish rack of jealousy’: murder, insanity, and Broadmoor in Victorian England
Public Health, Mental Health
Rob Boddice (Freie Universität, Berlin)
Tyranny of compassion? The moral economy of vaccination in Britain, 1867–98
Sun-Young Park (Harvard University)
Rehabilitating minds and bodies: emotions, hygiene, and school architecture in Paris, 1815–48
Bodily Health and Wellbeing
Stephanie Snow (University of Manchester)
Individual experience, public activism, and stroke, 1990s–2000s
Antje Kampf and Jeannette Madarász-Lebenhagen (Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz)
Medico-politics of gendered wellbeing: the case of cardiovascular prevention in East and West Germany, 1949–69
Leonie De Goei (Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts & Sciences)
Getting to grips with emotions in the sixties. Letters to Doctor Trimbos.
10.30 Coffee
11.00 Plenary session
Chaired by Fay Bound Alberti (Wellcome Trust)
Roundtable: Impact and Public Engagement
12.30 Lunch
1.30 Panel sessions
Networks and Markets
Anna Maerker (King’s College London)
From fear to fun: emotions, crowds, and the marketing of anatomical models
Elizabeth Connolly (University of Adelaide)
Will Atkins and the ‘envious’ people who ‘hate’ his medicines
From Melancholy and Despair to Depression: Continuity and Change
David Lederer (National University of Ireland,Maynooth)
Mood disorders in early modern Europe
Åsa Jansson (Queen Mary, University of London)
‘Mental pain’ and ‘depression of spirits’: the standardisation of biomedical melancholia in Victorian medicine
Georgina Laragy (National University of Ireland,Maynooth)
War, emotion, and suicide in the twentieth century
Maria Teresa Brancaccio (University of Maastricht)
The management of sadness: classifications of depressive disorders in the twentieth century
Comparative Perspectives
Dan Malleck (Brock University)
Feeling no pain? The changing language of drug and alcohol habituation in the Anglo-American world, 1867–1908
Martin Messika (University Paris I Sorbonne/University of Quebec)
Immigrants’ ‘emotions’ and social work: North African Jews in Paris and Montreal compared (1956–76)
Katherine Foxhall (King’s College London)
Emotions in the history of migraine
Bettina Hitzer (Max Planck Institute for Human Development)
Cancer and the feeling body. Psychosomatic explanations in post-1945 Germany and the United States
Valerie Harrington (University of Manchester)
Irritable mind or irritable bowel? The role of emotion in Irritable Bowel Syndrome
2.00 onwards Optional museum visits
3.00 SSHM AGM; and European Association for the History of Medicine and Health (EAHMH) committee meetings
4.30 End of conference
[programme last updated 12 July 2012]

For more information:

SSHM Conference 2012: Emotions, Health, and Wellbeing

SSHM Conference 2012: Emotions, Health, and Wellbeing

10-12 September 2012, London

The Society for the Social History of Medicine (SSHM) hosts a major, biennial, international, interdisciplinary conference. In 2012, it is being held in conjunction with the Queen Mary Centre for the History of the Emotions, on the theme ‘Emotions, Health and Wellbeing’. The conference investigates the intimate relationship between the emotions and medicine, addressing a wide variety of periods and places.

Our plenary speakers are Joanna Bourke (Birkbeck), Mark Jackson (Exeter), and William Reddy (Duke); a full conference programme is available on the conference website and we will also be running a number of excursions to local museums of interest for delegates. We hope you will be able to join us for what promises to be a rich and fascinating conference.

New Issue: NTM Zeitschrift für Geschichte der Wissenschaften, Technik und Medizin

The second issue for 2012 of NTM Zeitschrift für Geschichte der Wissenschaften, Technik und Medizin is now online and includes an article by Waltraud Ernst entitled The Indianization of Colonial Medicine. The Case of Psychiatry in Early-Twentieth-Century British India. The abstract reads:

Anders als die weitgehend in der Geschichtsschreibung belegte psychiatrische Anstalt für Europäer und Europäerinnen mit ihrem englischen Leiter Owen Berkeley-Hill ist die weitaus größere Institution für indische Patienten und Patientinnen im nordindischen Ranchi bisher nicht untersucht worden. Im Mittelpunkt dieses Beitrags steht die Karriere des Leiters dieser Institution, Jal E. Dhunjibhoy, zu Beginn des 20. Jahrhunderts als von der britischen Kolonialregierung eine Indianisierung der medizinischen Einrichtungen angestrebt wurde. Im Gegensatz zu bisherigen Studien über intermediaries und middles konzentriert sich dieser Aufsatz auf einen hochrangigen einheimischen Mitarbeiter. Die verbreitete Annahme zwangsläufiger historischer Prozesse wird dabei differenziert, eine regionale Kontextualisierung vorgenommen und die Kontinuität offener und versteckter Diskriminierung indischer Mediziner in Bezug auf Entlohnung, gesellschaftliche Stellung, fachliche Anerkennung, posthume Würdigung und historiographischer Berücksichtigung herausgearbeitet. Es wird verdeutlicht, in welcher Weise koloniale Akteure in bestehende gesellschaftliche Disparitäten und soziopolitische Prozessen verstrickt waren und wie die Karriere eines leitenden Mediziners von einer Vielzahl von außermedizinischen Zusammenhängen bestimmt wurde. Gleichzeitig wird hervorgehoben, dass ihre strukturelle Positionierung als inbetweens, Kollaborateure oder Repräsentanten einer erfolgreichen Dekolonisierung für ein nuancierteres Verständnis ihrer beruflichen und persönlichen Identitätsformierung nicht ausreicht.

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