Archive for January, 2014

New issue – Bulletin for the History of Medicine

The latest issue of the Bulletin for the History of Medicine contains a number of articles that might be of interest to H-Madness readers, including a piece by Beth Linker on “The Borderland of Medical and Disability History” (followed by two comments by Daniel J. Wilson and Julie Livingston), and an article by David Wright et al. about mental asylums in Victorian Canada.

The complete table of contents is below:

Table of Contents

Editors’ Note
Positioning Paper
“On the Borderland of Medical and Disability History: A Survey of the Fields”
Beth Linker
Daniel J. Wilson
Catherine Kudlick

Julie Livingston

“The Invention of Infertility in the Classical Greek World: Medicine, Divinity, and Gender”
Rebecca Flemming

“Dying to Get Out of the Asylum: Mortality and Madness in Four Mental Hospitals in Victorian Canada, c. 1841–1891”
David Wright, Laurie Jacklin, and Tom Themeles

“Benevolent Tyranny of Biostatistics: Public Administration and the Promotion of Biostatistics at the National Institutes of Health, 1946–1970”
Sejal Patel

“Plow, Town, and Gown: The Politics of Family Practice in 1960s America”
Dominique Tobbell

News and Events

Book Reviews
Anthony Cerulli. Somatic Lessons: Narrating Patienthood and Illness in Indian Medical Literature
Reviewer: Hartmut Scharfe

Esther Cohen, Leona Toker, Manuela Consonni, and Otniel E. Dror, eds. Knowledge and Pain
Reviewer: Joanna Bourke

John Parascandola. King of Poisons: A History of Arsenic
Reviewer: P. W. J. Bartrip

Sylvia A. Pamboukian. Doctoring the Novel: Medicine and Quackery from Shelley to Doyle
Reviewer: Michael Brown

Nancy Cervetti. S. Weir Mitchell, 1829–1914: Philadelphia’s Literary Physician
Reviewer: Helen L. Horowitz

<>Guy R. Hasegawa. Mending Broken Soldiers: The Union and Confederate Programs to Supply Artificial Limbs
Reviewer: J. T. H. Connor

Pratik Chakrabarti. Bacteriology in British India: Laboratory Medicine and the Tropics
Reviewer: Christoph Gradmann

Marian Moser Jones. The American Red Cross from Clara Barton to the New Deal
Reviewer: Julia F. Irwin

David S. Jones. Broken Hearts: The Tangled History of Cardiac Care
Reviewer: Allen B. Weisse

Paul Starr. Remedy and Reaction: The Peculiar American Struggle over Health Care Reform
Reviewer: Daniel M. Fox

Guenter B. Risse. Plague, Fear, and Politics in San Francisco’s Chinatown
Reviewer: Myron Echenberg

<>William C. Summers. The Great Manchurian Plague of 1910–1911: The Geopolitics of an Epidemic Disease
Reviewer: Carol A. Benedict

Beth Linker. Warʼs Waste: Rehabilitation in World War I America
Reviewer: Jeffrey S. Reznick

Sarah G. Mars. The Politics of Addiction: Medical Conflict and Drug Dependence in England since the 1960s
Reviewer: Stephen Snelders

Kaushik Sunder Rajan, ed. Lively Capital: Biotechnologies, Ethics, and Governance in Global Markets
Reviewer: Todd Meyers

Jonathan Kahn. Race in a Bottle: The Story of BiDil and Racialized Medicine in a Post-Genomic Age
Reviewer: Anne Pollock

For more information, click here.

CfP: French Autopathography: Disability, Disease and Disorders from First-Person Perspectives (Queen’s University Belfast, November 2014)

French Autopathography: Disability, Disease and Disorders

from First-Person Perspectives

Queen’s University Belfast, 21-22 November 2014

Keynote Speaker: Dr Hannah Thompson (Royal Holloway, University of London)

Call for Papers

Coinciding with the rise in cases of cancer and AIDS from the 1980s onwards, the modern outbreak of patient-authored narratives of ill-health or incapacity has provided fresh perspectives to complement traditional medical literature and third-person illness narratives. Known as autopathographies, these patients’ tales give voice to the embodied experience of illness, suffering, disease and, following Thomas Couser’s definition, disability too. Acknowledging that the French tradition of autopathography can be traced back as far as Montaigne, this conference explores a rich but often-neglected corpus of first-person accounts across time-frames and disciplines in an effort to understand more fully what the sociologist Arthur Frank has called people’s need to ‘tell their stories’, be they of the plague, smallpox, syphilis, tuberculosis, leukaemia, cardiac disease, cancer, AIDS, motor neurone disease, eating disorders, stress disorders, or forms of disability (physical, cognitive, sensory, etc.), to name but a few. In this way, it interprets the term autopathography in its broadest sense, and embraces not only literature and creative writing, but also first-person documentary, visual, digital (eg. blogs) and other artistic and creative forms such as performance, dance, montage, sculpture, self-portraits or photography. Areas to be discussed may include, but are not limited to:

–          The structural and ideological issues that characterise French/francophone autopathographies

–          The subject as ‘narrative wreck’ [Frank]

–          Personal perspectives on French/francophone healthcare institutions and treatment processes

–          The ways in which the French language communicates pain, following Elaine Scarry’s remark that ‘physical pain does not simply resist language but actively destroys it’

–          The use of metaphor in self-authored accounts of illness or disability

–          French/francophone literature and/or art’s ‘restorative’ function [Deleuze]

–          Autopathography as genre? A challenge to the tenets of autobiographical writing? A new ‘pact’?

–          The relationship between autopathography and trauma narrative/testimony

–          Interfaces between autopathography and science/medicine in France/the French-speaking world

–          The impact of gender and/or class on illness formulations, attitudes to therapies etc.

250-word proposals for 20-minute papers (or three-paper panels), in French or English, should be sent to Dr Steven Wilson by email attachment at the following address:

The deadline for receipt of proposals is Friday 30 May 2014.

For more information:

CFP: Fashionable Diseases (Newcastle and Northumbria Universities)

*Extended Deadline*
Call for Papers

Fashionable Diseases: Medicine, Literature and Culture, ca. 1660-1832

An International Interdisciplinary Conference
Newcastle and Northumbria Universities
3rd – 5th July 2014

Keynote speakers include:

Professor Helen Deutsch
University of California, Los Angeles
Author of Resemblance and Disgrace: Alexander Pope and the Deformation of Culture

Dr David Shuttleton
University of Glasgow
Author of Smallpox and the Literary Imagination

Between 1660 and 1832 books such as Cheyne’s English Malady and Adair’s Essays on Fashionable Diseases created a substantial debate on the relationship between fashion and sickness, linking melancholy, the vapours, nervousness, gout, consumption and many other conditions with the elite and superior sensibility. This conference aims to include voices from both within the social and medical elite and beyond, and to look at diseases that have not previously been examined in this context and at what can be learned from ‘unfashionable’ illnesses. It also aims to consider not only diseases associated with social prestige, but also with the medical critique of fashionable luxurious lifestyles, and the debate on ‘imaginary’ diseases. The role of culture in creating, framing and spreading conceptions of fashionable disease will also be considered.

Proposals for papers and three-person panels are welcome on topics related to fashionable diseases, including:
• Patient experience
• Consumer society and the ‘medical marketplace’
• Culture (literature, music, etc) and fashionable disease
• Geographical meanings – travel literature and spa culture
• Morality, politics and medicine in critiques of fashionable lifestyles
• Satire, stigma, fashion
• ‘Imaginary’ diseases
• Class, gender, race, religion, etc
• Unfashionable diseases

We are also keen to receive proposals offering interdisciplinary and internationally comparative perspectives, or relating eighteenth-century to contemporary fashionable diseases.
Please submit abstracts (max. 250 words) and a brief biography (max 100 words) to by 28 February 2014

Parution de livre : Sabine Arnaud, L’Invention de l’hystérie au temps des lumières (1670-1820)

L’invention de l’hystérie au temps des Lumières (1670-1820)

Sabine Arnaud
Editions de l’EHESS
L’invention de l’hystérie nous porte au 18e siècle, lors de l’élaboration des maladies nerveuses frappant les gens du monde, hommes et femmes, et les lettrés en particulier. Qu’est ce qui se joue dans l’écriture de ce diagnostic ? À travers des textes de médecins, de patients, d’écrivains, Sabine Arnaud déchiffre toute une société.
L’hystérie au 18e siècle nous mène loin des mises en scène de Charcot et des cures de Freud. C’est le moment même de l’invention d’une catégorie pour identifier une maladie nerveuse frappant les gens du monde, hommes et femmes, et les lettrés en particulier. Mais comment établir une pathologie dont la caractérisation commence par le nombre infini de symptômes ? Des textes médicaux aux ouvrages littéraires, métaphores, citations, et anecdotes sont mises à contribution. De l’animal indocile emprunté au Timée, à un « je ne sais quoi », d’un protée à un caméléon, ou à une hydre, médecins et hommes de lettres rivalisent dans son écriture. Un jour courtisans, ils s’inventent le lendemain citoyens fervents d’une nation nouvelle ; leurs écrits déclinent l’hystérie au fur et à mesure des modes et des passions et cristallisent les craintes et les rêves d’un temps.
Découvrir ces conceptions nous porte à apprécier la médecine telle qu’elle s’écrivait au dix-huitième siècle. S’éloignant à grand pas des traités à systèmes, les médecins s’adressent alors à leurs patients au nom d’une sensibilité partagée, et publient dialogues, autobiographies et correspondances pour faciliter cet échange. Ils présentent ainsi une image de l’acte médical fondée dans la prévenance et le récit de soi. A nous de déceler les enjeux d’un diagnostic pour une médecine en pleine transformation.


Nommer (Introduction)
Première partie. De l’usage des diagnostics, des divisions du savoir
Pathologie et différence sexuelle
Affection vaporeuse et classe sociale
Rencontres entre la sphère médicale et la sphère religieuse

Partie II. Les métaphores, ou comment donner figure à l’indéfinissable
D’un répertoire d’images : Protée, caméléon, hydre
De la répétition d’une citation, des divergences de lecture

Partie III. Mises en écrit d’une pathologie et pratiques de diffusion : L’emprunt de genres rhétoriques
Le dialogue
La correspondance fictionnelle
Les consultations par correspondance

Partie IV. Code, vérité ou ruse ? Descriptions littéraires de troubles en quêtes de lecteurs
Troubles de circonstance et persiflage
Corps-vérité en attente d’exégèse
Tours de vapeurs et paroles obliques

Partie V. Mise en récit de cas pathologiques et création d’énigmes, les fonctions du narratif
À l’ombre du conte fantastique
Pièges et contre-pièges
La construction d’un secret
De l’authenticité du corps au savoir du patient

Partie VI. Jeux de rôles et redéfinitions de la médecine

Démystifier ou mystifier ? Fonder le rôle du médecin thérapeute
Stratégies de légitimation et définition du patient à venir

À rebours (Conclusion)

Cliquer ici pour de plus amples informations

Parution de livre: Extension du domaine psy (Hervé Guillemain)


A paraître le 22 janvier 2014: Extension du domaine psy par Hervé Guillemain.

Sous la permanente reconfiguration des catégories pathologiques, peut-on saisir les tendances contemporaines à l’œuvre ? Signalent-elles une médicalisation accrue des états d’âmes ou, au contraire, une forme de déprise médicale laissant toute sa place aux interventions des patients et des acteurs sociaux dans la définition de la maladie mentale ? Sommes-nous devenus les acteurs de notre folie, les entrepreneurs de nos problèmes mentaux ? Il semble qu’il soit devenu de plus en plus difficile d’échapper à l’emprise du « domaine psy ». En s’appuyant sur une mise en perspective historique et des éclairages sur notre époque, les articles de ce volume décrivent les interactions entre le patient, les définitions toujours mouvantes de la science et le regard que les sociétés portent sur la souffrance psychologique.


Table de matières

– Hervé Guillemain, Les frontières de la psychiatrie aujourd’hui

La médicalisation des humeurs

– Jérémie Majorel, Histoire d’un affect, la mélancolie

– Pierre-Henri Castel, Folie du Vieux Monde, folie du Nouveau Monde

Les nouvelles frontières de la souffrance psychique

– Évelyne Grossman, Les nouveaux sujets de la souffrance cérébrale

– Nadège Vezinat, Le stress au travail : pathologie ou symptôme ?

Le sujet, l’histoire, la science

– Aude Fauvel, Hystérique mais pas si folle

– Laurence Bertrand Dorléac, Quand l’histoire rend fou


Vu sur: La vie des idées.

Museums at Night Competition: Bethlem Archives

A history of psychiatry project that might interest H-Madness readers:

Bethlem Archives and Museum are through to the public voting stage to win photographer Rankin for a day, as part of the Museums at Night Connect 10 competition. Readers can vote for the project to go ahead by visiting: before 28 January.

If we win, we will hold a public workshop focusing on the mid-19th century photographs taken by society photographer Henry Hering. Hering photographed the faces of scores of Bethlem patients, examining the resulting images in order to detect the patients’ mental health conditions through their facial expressions and features. For more on this renowned collection, see: (please feel free to reproduce one of the images on the blog, credited to The Bethlem Art and History Collections Trust)

Keeping the Hering collection firmly in mind, the Museum plans to work with Rankin to create a new permanent collection of portraits. The project will raise awareness of the extent of mental illness, helping to work away at prejudices by showing that it is not always clear from a person’s appearance that they are unwell.

It would be greatly appreciated if you could help us promote the project and win the public vote!

Kind regards,


Dr. Sarah Chaney

Research Associate

UCL Centre for the History of Psychological Disciplines

Workshop: “Soul Catchers – A Material History of the Mind Sciences” (Princeton, February 2014)

Soul Catchers – A Material History of the Mind Sciences 

A History of Science Workshop at Princeton University – February 7/8, 2014

Organized by Katja Guenther (Princeton) and Volker Hess (Charité/ Humboldt), and jointly funded by the Princeton-Humboldt Strategic Partnership, the Shelby Cullom Davis Center for Historical Studies, and the History of Science Program

A soul catcher is a piece of incised bear femur decorated with animal heads. It is plugged with cedar bark on both ends, to catch and contain those ephemeral things that are often described by the term “soul” – a lost soul or an evil spirit. While the soul catcher today strikes us the work of superstition, and the product of an animistic culture, it resembles in both its form and function other, more mainstream, objects. Many technologies in the modern world, in daily life and in science, in the clinic and in the laboratory, might also in their way be labeled “soul catchers.” The psychoanalyst’s couch, the writer’s pen and paper, or the heavy machinery of scanners, processors, or EEG machines that populate our hospitals and research centers all try to catch that elusive object, which in the eighteenth- century was still called rather unproblematically the “soul.” Two hundred years later, the epistemic object caught in notebooks, photographs, film, PET scans, brain sections or electric circuits shows itself to be just as indeterminate as the soul caught in the hollow femur of the shaman.

This is not to downplay differences between these technologies of “soul catching,” which are indeed impossible to miss. Only a short glance reveals differences of complexity and scale, of cultural authority and plausibility. These differences also reflect many of the oppositions that structure the modern world: science versus superstition, mainstream versus marginal, and the finer differentiations between psychoanalysis, psychology, neurology, brain science, and criminology amongst others. But as the history of science teaches us, some of these divisions are new, and others have been constantly renegotiated over the past two hundred years. To use them to delimit the object of analysis would thus also pre-determine many of the results, and keep the research anchored to the categories of the present, upon whose genesis and constitution it might otherwise shed light.

For this reason, this workshop will try to lower the disciplinary boundaries that have traditionally kept these technologies separate, in order to examine the workings, problems, and futures of the technologies and the souls that they are catching. All these technologies confront the problem of how to use material objects in order to grasp something usually considered immaterial. Spirit photography attempts to capture traces of a departed spirit, a physical mark left on the photographic plate, as a sign of something we otherwise cannot see. So too, a PET scanner visualizes brain activity, representing “neural correlates” of depression, ethics, and more recently, love. Souls can be visualized, but they can also be written. The medical case history captures the mental disease of a psychiatric patient, the pen held by the writer of écriture automatique offers a point of access to the creative mind. Others have tried to grasp the soul through the expressiveness of the body. The measure of stress hormones in a laboratory animal allows us some access to its experience of stress, the lie detector is sensitive to minor vegetative changes in the body which supposedly can separate truth from falsehood.

While the workshop tries to break down certain distinctions, it also has the potential of providing new taxonomies. Would it be possible to divide up these soul catchers by the type of soul caught (emotional, pathological, spiritual, etc.)? Are the key divisions marked by the functions of the devices deployed (machines that make the invisible visible, that capture the ephemeral, that cultivate or produce certain mental states)? Or do the goals for which the catching process is deployed matter most (to analyze, to heal, to police)? 

*Please note that attendees are required to read pre-circulated papers prior to the workshop.

To register and access papers, contact Jackie Wasneski at

Click here for additional information.

%d bloggers like this: