New issue – History of Psychiatry

The September 2015 issue of History of Psychiatry is now available online. Titles and abstracts are below:

The discourse of the American Psychiatric Association’s DSM reflects the inherently dialogic or contradictory nature of its stated mandate to demonstrate both ‘nosological completeness’ and cultural ‘inclusiveness’. Psychiatry employs the dialogic discourse of the DSM in a one-sided, positivistic manner by identifying what it considers universal mental disease entities stripped of their cultural context. In 1992 the editors of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders proposed to introduce possession into their revisions. A survey of the discussions about introducing ‘possession’ as a dissociative disorder to be listed in the DSM-IV indicates a missed epistemological break. Subsequently the editors of the DSM-5 politically ‘recuperated’ possession into its official discourse, without acknowledging the anarchic challenges that possession presents to psychiatry as a cultural practice.

Today’s ‘theory of mind’ (ToM) concept is rooted in the distinction of nineteenth-century philosopher William Clifford between ‘objects’ that can be directly perceived and ‘ejects’, such as the mind of another person, which are inferred from one’s subjective knowledge of one’s own mind. George Romanes, a founder with Charles Darwin of the discipline of comparative psychology, considered the minds of animals as ejects, an idea that could be generalized to ‘society as eject’ and, ultimately, ‘the world as an eject’ – mind in the universe. Yet, Romanes and Clifford only vaguely connected mind with the abstraction we call ‘information’, which needs ‘a vehicle of symbols’ – a material transporting medium. However, Samuel Butler was able to address, in informational terms depleted of theological trappings, both organic evolution and mind in the universe. This view harmonizes with insights arising from modern DNA research, the relative immortality of ‘selfish’ genes, and some startling recent developments in brain research.

On the basis of unpublished materials, this essay reconstructs Jung’s seances with his cousin, Helene Preiswerk, which formed the basis of his 1902 medical dissertation, The Psychology and Pathology of so-called Occult Phenomena. It separates out Jung’s contemporaneous approach to the mediumistic phenomena she exhibited from his subsequent sceptical psychological reworking of the case. It traces the reception of the work and its significance for his own self-experimentation from 1913 onwards. Finally, it reconstructs the manner in which Jung continually returned to his first model and reframed it as an exemplar of his developing theories.

The activities of both Winifred Rushforth (1885–1983), and the Edinburgh-based Davidson Clinic for Medical Psychotherapy (1941–73) which she directed, exemplify and elaborate the overlap in Scotland of religious discourses and practices with psychoanalytic psychotherapy. Even as post-war secularization began to affect Scottish culture and society, Rushforth and the Davidson Clinic attempted to renew the biographical discourses of Christianity using the idioms and practices of psychoanalytic psychotherapy. Furthermore, alongside these Christian-inflected activities, Rushforth promoted a psychoanalytically-informed New Age spirituality. This parallel mode of belief and practice drew on Christian life-narrative patterns, preserving them within psychoanalytic forms grafted onto a vitalist worldview informed by the work of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin.

Those afflicted bark like dogs, scramble on all fours and loiter around graveyards – canine madness, referred to as kynanthropy, was an illness concept in its own right in the medicine of late antiquity. At roughly the same time as the medical description produced by Aëtius of Amida, the Syrian chronicler John of Ephesus, also from Amida, reported an epidemic of dog-like madness sweeping his home town in ad 560. The symptoms are identical and both authors are from Amida – what is the connection between the two depictions? In addition to the history of the medical concept, the example of the canine madness of Amida and its cultural embedding allows us to contextualize and interpret the significance of dog-like behaviour for the people of the sixth century AD.

This paper builds on recent scholarship exploring museum exhibitions and the heritage of mental health care. Using the development of the Stanley Royd Museum in the mid-1970s as a case study, the paper will examine the rationale for the opening of the museum and its link to changing perceptions of mental hospitals in both historical study and what was then ‘current’ practice. It will then provide an overview of the proposed audience for the new museum and briefly analyse its success in communicating its history to its visitors. Ultimately, it will question how successful mental health professionals were in presenting the progressive nature of institutional care at a time when the system was being radically overhauled and reoriented.

  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: