New issue of “History of Psychiatry”

F1.mediumA new issue of History of Psychiatry is available online. The June issue 2014 contains the following articles:
Louis C Charland; John Locke on madness: redressing the intellectualist bias

Locke is famous for defining madness as an intellectual disorder in the realm of ideas. Numerous commentators take this to be his main and only contribution to the history of psychiatry. However, a detailed exegetical review of all the relevant textual evidence suggests that this intellectualist interpretation of Locke’s account of madness is both misleading and incomplete. Affective states of various sorts play an important role in that account and are in fact primordial in the determination of human conduct generally. Locke’s legacy in this domain must therefore be revised and the intellectualist bias that dominates discussions of his views must be redressed.

Christopher Harding; Japanese psychoanalysis and Buddhism: the making of a relationship

This article explores the making of a relationship between Japanese psychoanalysis and Buddhism, in the life and work of Kosawa Heisaku. Kosawa did not work out the compatibility of psychoanalysis with Buddhism in abstract, theoretical terms; rather, he understood them as two different articulations of the same practical approach to living well. He saw this approach in action in the lives of Freud and Shinran, the latter a thirteenth-century Japanese Buddhist reformer. For Kosawa, both individuals exemplified the ‘true religious state of mind’, at the achievement of which Kosawa understood psychoanalytic psychotherapy as ideally aiming. This article uses newly available documentary and interview material to examine the historical dynamics both of Kosawa’s work in this area and of the broader ‘religion-psy dialogue’ of which it is an early example.

Rachel Cooper; Shifting boundaries between the normal and the pathological: the case of mild intellectual disability

When disorders fade into normality, how can the threshold between normality and disorder be determined? In considering mild intellectual disability, I argue that economic factors partly determine thresholds. We tend to assume that the relationship between disorder, need and services is such that: first, a cut-off point between the disordered and the normal is determined; second, a needy population is identified; and third, resources are found (or at least should be found) to meet this need. However, the changing definitions of intellectual disability can best be understood if we think of this happening in reverse. That is, first, certain resources are thought obtainable, and then a cut-off point for disorder is selected which supplies an appropriately sized ‘needy population’.

Patricia Cotti; ‘I am reading the history of religion’: a contribution to the knowledge of Freud’s building of a theory

Could Reinach’s Cultes, mythes et religions (1908) have served as a model for the theory of religion that Freud was later to put forward in Totem and Taboo (1913)? This hypothesis has been tested by examining Freud’s marginalia in his personal copy of Cultes, mythes et religions. In this way it is possible to reconstitute the line of thinking that led Freud to declare, in late summer 1911, that he had found an answer to the question of the origins of tragic guilt and religious sentiment.

Norbert Andersch and John Cutting; Ernst Cassirer’s Philosophy of Symbolic Forms and its impact on the theory of psychopathology


The philosopher Ernst Cassirer (1874–1945) wrote in 1929: ‘For what it [the philosophy of symbolic forms] is seeking is not so much common factors in being as common factors in meaning. Hence we must strive to bring the teachings of pathology, which cannot be ignored, into the more universal context of the philosophy of culture’ (Cassirer, 1955: 275). This statement summarizes his approach in shifting the focus on psychopathological theory from the brain and its localizations to the living interaction between the self and his/her social environment. The present article looks at the impact of symbol theory on psychopathology – pre- and post-Cassirer’s main oeuvre Philosophie der symbolischen Formen – and whether his concept still has a role to play in an ontology of psychopathology.

Steven J Taylor; Insanity, philanthropy and emigration: dealing with insane children in late-nineteenth-century north-west England

The historiography of asylums and insanity is dense, and some topics have received much scholarly attention but others, such as insanity among children, have been largely neglected. Children by no means formed the majority of asylum populations, but they still suffered from mental impairment and were admitted to these institutions in significant numbers. Identifying the various experiences of insane children is the central goal of this research, but the asylum will not be the sole emphasis. The focus is to place child mental deficiency within a broader context of extramural care. By examining workhouses, the role of family, and philanthropic attempts to deal with insane children, this article will move beyond current historical thinking on the topic; traditional views of childhood, insanity and charity will be challenged, and will show that a much wider world than the locality was accessible to the insane child.

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