New Issue: Social History of Medicine

1.coverFebruary’s issue of the Social History of Medicine contains two articles about the history of psychiatry:

1) Contingencies of Colonial Psychiatry: Migration, Mental Illness, and the Repatriation of Nigerian ‘Lunatics’ (Matthew M. Heaton)

This article examines the experiences of mentally ill Nigerian migrants during the colonial era. Migrant Nigerian ‘lunatics’ faced different circumstances depending on what type of migrant they were and where they fell ill. Those in the UK tended to be repatriated for medical reasons, while those within the West African region rarely returned home because of financial considerations. Nigerian pilgrims to Mecca are noticeably absent from the discourse as are procedures associated with the relationship between migration and mental illness, despite the fact that they made up a large and constant flow of migrants from Nigeria during the colonial period. By putting these transnational individuals at the centre of analysis, this article provides a comparative perspective that reveals contingencies of psychiatric biopower that are often subsumed in narratives that focus on the activities of specific colonial asylums within individual colonial states.

2) Therapy Means Political Change, Not Peanut Butter’: American Radical Psychiatry, 1968–1975 (Lucas Richert)

As early as the 1950s, the profession of psychiatry in the United States began to experience a series of subtle adjustments. By the mid-1960s, the American Psychiatric Association was gripped and bound by the larger social, economic and political trends of the era. Widespread political activist movements focused on the Vietnam War, civil rights for blacks, and the elevation of feminism. Amid this contentious, transitional climate, factions in the field of mental health deliberated over best practices as well as broader questions of modernisation, scientific legitimacy and human rights. The Radical Caucus of the American Psychiatric Association was one such faction. It included black and women’s wings and challenged other members of the APA to embrace the transformative zeitgeist of the 1960s, as well as connect these tenets to the practice of psychiatry. This paper offers a snapshot of an important period in the history of American psychiatry, politics, and culture.

Access the articles and the full issue here.



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