New issue – History of Psychiatry

A new issue of History of Psychiatry is now available online. The articles in this issue deal with a French psychiatrist’s view on psychoanalysis during the 1930s; photography and radical psychiatry in 1960s Italy; the relationship between madness and the legal system; shell-shock in post-WWI Dublin; GPI in a late nineteenth-century New Zealand Mental Hospital; the history of leucotomies in Greece; medical responses to psychological symptoms in nineteenth-century India; and the extermination of Jewish psychiatric patients during the Polish occupation.

Full titles and abstracts are below:

Felicia Gordon

In 1935 Constance Pascal (1877–1937), France’s first woman psychiatrist, publishedChagrins d’amour et psychoses (The Sorrows of Love and Psychosis). My analysis of her monograph will consider: her major article leading up to Chagrins; Pascal’s debts to her predecessors, particularly Morel and Kretschmer; her relationship to the French psychoanalytic movement; her co-option of psychoanalysis as a tool in her own therapeutic work with patients in the state psychiatric system; and her social/cultural interpretations of her woman patients. The literary and philosophic aspects of her work are emphasized as well as her contribution to French psychiatry.

John Foot

In the 1960s Franco Basaglia, the Director of a Psychiatric Hospital in a small city on the edge of Italy (Gorizia), began to transform that institution from the inside. He introduced patient meetings and set up a kind of Therapeutic Community. In 1968 he asked two photographers – Carla Cerati and Gianni Berengo Gardin – to take photos inside Gorizia and other asylums. These images were then used in a photobook called Morire di Classe (To Die Because of your Class) (1969). This article re-examines in detail the content of this celebrated book and its history, and its impact on the struggle to reform and abolish large-scale psychiatric institutions. It also places the book in its social and political context and as a key text of the anti-psychiatry movement of the 1960s.

Benjamin Lévy

The second part of this paper examines the history of querulous paranoia and vexatious litigation in the English-speaking countries from the nineteenth century to today. This study suggests that the lack of thorough research on querulous paranoia in these countries is due to a broad cultural, legal and medical context which has caused unreasonable complainants to be considered a purely legal, rather than a medical issue. To support this hypothesis, I analyse how legal steps have been taken throughout the English-speaking world since 1896 to keep the unreasonable complainants at bay, and I present reasons why medical measures have scarcely been adopted. However, I also submit evidence that this division of responsibilities between the judges and the psychiatrists has taken a new turn since the dawn of the twenty-first century.

Brendan D Kelly

The history of mental disorders occasioned by World War I is a complex and important history, indelibly linked with social, political and cultural circumstances, and the history of the war itself. The Richmond War Hospital was a 32-bed establishment on the grounds of the large Richmond District Asylum in Dublin which, from 16 June 1916 until 23 December 1919, treated 362 soldiers with shell shock and other mental disorders, of whom more than half were considered to have recovered. Despite the limitations of the Richmond War Hospital, it was a generally forward-looking institution that pointed the way for future reform of Ireland’s asylum system and, along with the other war hospitals, brought significant changes to the practice of psychiatry.

Maree O’Connor

This article examines the diagnosis of general paralysis of the insane (GPI) at the Auckland Mental Hospital, New Zealand, between 1868 and 1899, and changes in the identified causes of this condition. It argues that despite long-standing evidence citing the role of syphilis, asylum doctors working in New Zealand were as reluctant as their English and Scottish colleagues to blame syphilis alone for GPI. It also argues that although syphilis became a more popular cause in the aetiology of GPI by the end of the nineteenth century, medical and non-medical sources continued to cite other causes for GPI.

D Ploumpidis, C Tsiamis, and E Poulakou-Rebelakou

In order to present the social, scientific and institutional context which permitted the use of leucotomies in Greece, we have reviewed the Archives of the Medical Associations, the medical literature of the years 1946–56, a reader’s dissertation and the memoirs of two psychiatrists. More than 250 leucotomies were done in the two public psychiatric hospitals in Athens from 1947 to 1954, as well as 40 leucotomies in the public psychiatric hospital in Thessaloniki. Although aware of the side effects, psychiatrists justified the use of the procedure. The performance of leucotomies in Greece declined because of reports of the dangers of the operation and its unpredictable outcome for the patients, but mainly because of the encouraging results with psychotropic drugs in the early 1950s.

P Radhika, Pratima Murthy, Alok Sarin, and Sanjeev Jain

The article documents medical approaches to mental illness in mid- to late-nineteenth-century India through examining the Indian Medical Gazette and other medical accounts. By the late nineteenth century, psychiatry in Europe moved from discussions around asylum-based care to a nuanced and informed debate about the nature of mental symptoms. This included ideas on phrenology and craniometry, biological and psycho-social causes, physical and drug treatments, many of which travelled to India. Simultaneously, indigenous socio-medical ideas were being debated. From the early to the mid-nineteenth century, not much distinction was made between the Western and the native ‘mind’, and consequently the diagnosis and investigation of mental symptoms did not differ. However, by the late nineteenth century Western medicine considered the ‘Western mind’ as more civilized and sophisticated than the ‘native mind.

Mary V Seeman

The T4 euthanasia programme within Nazi Germany has been well researched, but much less is known about the extermination of psychiatric patients in Nazi-occupied territories during the same period. In Poland 20,000 mentally ill patients were deliberately killed during the German occupation. This paper traces the history of one psychiatric hospital, Zofiówka, in Otwock, south-east of Warsaw. The hospital once served the Jewish population of Poland and was the largest, most prestigious neuropsychiatric centre in the country. It is now in ruins and said to be haunted by ghosts.

Classic Text No. 101
GE Berrios
Book Reviews
Claire Trenery
Leigh Wetherall-Dickson
Elena Trivelli
Alysa Levene
Vicky Long
Anna Greenwood
Ian Dowbiggin

To access the issue, click here.

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