Archive for June, 2013

UCL history of psychological disciplines seminar – The Possessions at Loudun: Their Significance in the History of the Science of Mind (Dr. Craig E. Stephenson)

UCL/British Psychological Society History of the Psychological Disciplines Seminar Series

Wednesday 26th June

Dr. Craig Stephenson

The Possessions at Loudun: Their Significance in the History of the Science of Mind

Dr. Craig E. Stephenson (AGAP/CPA/CAPT/IAAP)

This seminar focuses on the seventeenth-century possessions at Loudun, France and presents how the events of this famous case played out at the time and how theorizing about possession and obsession changed over almost four centuries of writing about them. For instance, in his definition of demonism for the Schweizer Lexikon (1945) C. G. Jung referred to the debate about Loudun, as did Gilles de la Tourette, Michel Foucault, Michel de Certeau, and Jacques Lacan. Eventually, psychopathology co-opted the word ‘obsession’, stripped of its religious connotation, and left the word ‘possession’ outside medical discourse. Then, in 1992, the American Psychiatric Association attempted to introduce ‘possession’ into its diagnostic manual (DSM-IV) as a mental disorder. Revisiting the history of Loudun provides a means for situating the APA’s recent interest in possession within a medical and intellectual continuum.

Organiser: Professor Sonu Shamdasani (UCL)

Time: 6pm to 7.30 pm.

Note Location:

UCL Institute of the Americas, Room 105
51 Gordon Square
London WC1H

Hybrid Psychiatry Room (beta version) in Medical Museion by Thomas Söderqvist

This post by Thomas Söderqvist has first been published on Medical Museion. Thanks to Thomas for the crossposting.

A couple of months ago we closed our psychiatry gallery on the 2nd floor in the museum’s Academy Building. Instead we have created a smaller room — a hybrid between exhibition, open collection, and study room/inspiration venue on the ground floor — which we call The Psychiatry Room

psyk feat eng

The planning for The Psychiatry Room began half a year ago when we realised we had to move the library, and that the best place to put the books was — right, the psychiatry gallery. Good for the books but bad for the psychiatry exhibit, which was only six years old.

We didn’t want to remove psychiatry from the museum altogether, however. Mental illness is a hot topic and our visitors love the history of psychiatry. We also had the ambition do some museological experiments. For example, we have been talking about open storage — to make much larger parts of our collections accessible for visitors — for almost a decade now. And I, for one, have long been toying with the idea of creating an acquisition room as a way of showing how medical heritage is created and inspire visitors to bring in stuff.

open storage

Storage racks in Medical Museion’s new hybrid Psychiatry Room

As a result of these considerations we came up with the idea of a hybrid museum room — a public space in the museum that combines several functions in one:

First, it is an open storage room, where you can see all the objects and images in our collections relating to psychiatry, including some archival records from the Danish psychiatry.

The acquisition storage rack to the left of the door

The acquisition storage rack to the left of the door

Second, it is an acquisition room, where we will exhibit all newly collected artefacts from today’s psychiatry.

So far we only have one single item in the new psychiatric artefacts acquisition storage rack

So far we only have one single item in the new psychiatric artefacts acquisition storage rack

We are starting out with a single storage rack, because we don’t expect a flood of artefacts to begin with — but as we acquire more things, we may have to add another rack (and hopefully a whole new room …).

Third, we see it as an inspiration room, where researchers, students , museum curator and members of the public are invited to come and look at objects and images and get inspiration to ideas for research, teaching assignments, exhibitions, art works, etc.

meeting roomIt can also be used as a seminar room, where students, psychiatric staff, officers and members of patient associations, etc. can meet over lunch or a cup of coffee and discuss the past, present and future state of psychiatry — with the stored artefacts and images as a backdrop.

gut bacteria articles

The meeting table in the room is placed close to a wall that is dedicated to possible future directions of psychiatry. In the next of couple of months we will use the white boards to ask questions about the newly discovered association of mental disorders with the gut microbiome. Can this exciting basic research findings be turned into new future psychiatric treatment methods?

The people behind the room are senior curator Niels Christian Vilstrup-Møller (curator) together with student assistants Mads Stender and Anders Stein Knudsen; conservator Nanna Gerdes (conservation work, Twitter documentation); web curator Daniel Noesgaard (metabolism wall); assistant professor Adam Bencard (metabolism wall); cand.mag. Peter Meedom (research); cand.mag.stud. Astrid Mo (web); and myself (idea and conceptual development).

Otto M. Marx (1929-2012) by John Burnham

24579087Otto M. Marx, a distinguished and influential historian of psychiatry and medicine, died on August 30, 2012, in Townshend, Vermont.

Marx was born in Heidelberg, but he graduated from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1953 and took his M.D. at the University of California, San Francisco, in 1957. He was one of the better educated psychiatrists of his generation, with an internship at Washington University Barnes Hospital, residency at Langley Porter Institute and Herrick Memorial Hospital, with further training in psychiatric administration in Berkeley and then in psychotherapy at the University of Zürich. In 1964-1966, he was a Research Fellow in the History of Psychiatry at the Institute of Medical History at the University of Zürich, followed by a research fellowship at the Johns Hopkins Institute of the History of Medicine.

Beginning with a paper in the American Journal of Psychiatry in 1965, Marx produced a series of major articles on the history of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century psychiatry in Germany and the Anglophone countries, especially contributing to the English-language literature on the history of German psychiatry. These publications were capped by his landmark revisionist article of 1972, in which he brought a new understanding to the fundamental work of Wilhelm Griesinger in German psychiatry.

Meanwhile, Marx was a busy practicing psychiatrist and teacher, with many prestigious appointments In Zürich, then the Boston area and, later, back in California. In 1985, he returned to the New England area. There was, however, an interlude in 1990-1992, when he became acting chair and then visiting professor in the Institut für Geschichte der Medizin der Ruprechtkarls-Universität in his birthplace, Heidelberg. At this same time, he resumed active publishing in the history of psychiatry and medicine, this time paying special attention to the historiography of psychiatry. In 1993-1994, he published (with Annett Moses) two volumes on the history of the teaching and research in medicine and biology in Heidelberg, Emeriti erinnern sich: Rückblicke auf die Lehre und Forschung in Heidelberg.

Otto Marx helped move the field of the history of psychiatry and medicine to include a dimension of social history. He will also be remembered for his informal critical influence within his generation of scholars. He not only reminded them of the influence of romantic and scientific thinking and institution building, but he showed them in action the high standards of a penetrating, restless intellect.

John Burnham

Dean Brooks (1916-2013)


The New York Times recently posted an obituary for Dean Brooks, the former superintendent of the Oregon psychiatric hospital where the film One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest was filmed.  Brooks served as head of the Oregon State Hospital from 1955 to 1981.

New book: ‘The Lobotomy Letters. The Making of American Psychosurgery’ (Mical Raz)

CfP: Interdisciplinary Conference ‘This is my Body’ (Cambridge, November 2013)

This is my Body

Monday, 18 November 2013 to Tuesday, 19 November 2013
Location: William Harvey Lecture Theatre, Addenbrooke’s Clinical School


Dr Olivia Will (Department of Surgery, Addenbrooke’s Hospital)

Dr Lucy Razzall (Faculty of English, University of Cambridge)


The relationship between the mind and the body raises innumerable challenging questions across the arts, humanities, and social science disciplines. For those who come into professional contact with the human body every day in the National Health Service, the mind and the body are usually considered distinct from each other. This is even reflected in the organisational structure of the NHS, where mental health trusts are separate from other healthcare services. Any medical interpretation of the human body, even while it is grounded in empirical evidence, is also inevitably shaped by the intricacies of cultural context, but this is often overlooked in contemporary medicine.

Keynote speaker: Ludmilla Jordanova (KCL)

Call for Papers

This two-day conference aims to return human experience to the centre of medical discussion by bringing scholars of the body from across the arts, humanities, and social sciences together with medical and surgical practitioners from the National Health Service. In engaging with the human body from a wide range of perspectives, this conference will explore the ways in which understandings, experiences, and representations of the body beyond the traditional medical sphere might inform healing and healthcare. This interdisciplinary conference will be the first of its kind ever held at Addenbrooke’s Hospital, and will establish an important new interface between the academy and the National Health Service.

We invite proposals (250 words) for 20-minute papers from graduate students and senior scholars in the arts, humanities, and social sciences, and from medical students and medical/surgical professionals, which will offer disciplinary perspectives on the human body and experiences of embodiment. Papers could address, but are not restricted to, any aspect of the following:

  • physical and mental illness: treatment and recovery
  • roles, identities, and relationships of patients, carers, and doctors
  • injury, wounds, and healing
  • trauma and disfigurement
  • pain and suffering
  • gender and sexuality
  • life-cycles: birth, childhood, puberty, reproduction, ageing, frailty, death

Please email your proposal to Any informal enquiries may be addressed to the conveners, Olivia Will and Lucy Razzall. The deadline for submission is 31 July 2013.

For more information:

Sciences Humaines – Numéro spécial « Histoire des psychothérapies »

Pour son numéro de juin-juillet-août 2013, la revue Sciences Humaines se tourne vers les sciences “psy” avec un dossier spécial sur l’histoire des psychothérapies :

On les a isolés, ligotés, électrocutés, estourbis, magnétisés, purgés, trépanés, lobotomisés au pic à glace, masturbés au spéculum, on les a gavés de moutarde, de LSD, de haschich et d’opium, on les a ébouillantés, frigorifiés, hypnotisés, plongés dans le coma, on leur a fait des lavements au chloroforme…C’étaient les fous, et c’était pour leur bien. Ce dossier revient sur cette fascinante (et parfois effrayante) histoire, où ceux qui se disaient sains d’esprit ont voulu remettre les autres sur le droit chemin….

Pour plus d’informations, cliquer ici.

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