Archive for August, 2016

New article – “The mirror image of asylums and prisons: A study of institutionalization trends in France (1850–2010)”

home_coverOn July 26th, Punishment & Society published an article in it’s OnlineFirst section that might be interesting for h-madness readers: Sacha Raoult, Aix-Marseille University, France and Bernard E Harcourt, Columbia University, USA, write about the “The mirror image of asylums and prisons: A study of institutionalization trends in France (1850–2010)“.


This article analyzes trends in prison rates and mental hospital rates in France since the earliest available statistics. It shows that, on almost two centuries of data and amidst an agitated political history, every asylum trend in France is “countered” by an inverse prison trend, and vice-versa. Both trends are like a mirror image of each other. We reflect on the possible explanations for this intriguing fact and show that the most obvious ones (a population transfer or a building transfer) are not able to account for most of the relationship. After these explanations have been dismissed, we are left with an enigma with wide theoretical and practical implications. How is it that when prisons fall, asylums rise and when prison rise, asylums fall? We suggest possible research avenues drawing on the 1960s and 1970s critical literature on “total institutions” and offer implications for current theories of the “punitive turn” and current quantitative studies of prison rates.

Call for Abstracts: “Philosophical Perspectives on Critical Psychiatry” (San Diego, May 2017)


Association for the Advancement of Philosophy and Psychiatry Call for Abstracts
29th ANNUAL MEETING, May 20-21, 2017
San Diego, California

Philosophical Perspectives on Critical Psychiatry: Challenges and Opportunities

Conference co-chairs: Christian Perring, Douglas Porter, and G. Scott Waterman

Critical Psychiatry is a wide-ranging movement that encompasses a highly varied, and possibly incommensurable, array of concepts, concerns, and activities. Broadly speaking, Critical Psychiatry has taken the profession to task for being a source of oppression, asserting that the power and authority of psychiatry functions to marginalize and disempower people who experience mental distress or extreme psychological states and/or use mental health services. Psychiatry has also been seen as a means of social control, serving to oppress communities that have already been marginalized due to race, gender, orientation, economic class, culture, ethnicity, or immigration status. Whether this oppression is conceived as an inevitable or contingent aspect of psychiatric practice, the concern for oppression has led Critical Psychiatry to focus attention on social, political, and ideological aspects of psychiatric theory and practice — topics not typically addressed in the mainstream discourse of the discipline. But critical psychiatry has also directly engaged conventional psychiatric thinking and practice, challenging empirical claims and methodologies, as well as interpretation of data.

For the purposes of this conference, Critical Psychiatry can be seen as fertile territory for an interdisciplinary engagement between philosophy and psychiatry. Critical Psychiatry has drawn upon the philosophical resources of the Frankfurt School of Critical Theory to criticize the implicit positivism at work in mainstream psychiatry and the power/knowledge complexes discerned by Foucault to challenge entrenched notions of epistemic authority within psychiatry. The concern for oppression within Critical Psychiatry is shared by queer theory, feminist theory, and broader theoretical concerns with social justice. Critical Psychiatry’s challenge to the empirical claims of psychiatric science implicate matters of direct concern for the philosophy of science, while the relation between empirical and theoretical concerns that arise within Critical Psychiatry pose challenges to philosophy, in particular the traditional disciplinary division between the philosophy of science and political and moral philosophy.

Possible topics for the conference include but are not limited to:

  • Is Critical Psychiatry best conceived of as a contemporary incarnation of “Anti-Psychiatry” or as a resource for psychiatric reform? Can psychiatry be emancipatory or is it inherently oppressive and coercive?
  • What should be the fundamental aims of psychiatry? Who should have the authority to formulate those aims?
  • How should we conceptualize madness and distress? Do certain ontological assumptions about the nature or “reality” of mental disorders inherently marginalize mental health service users?
  • What is the significance of empirical “sites of resistance” such as the psychiatric survivors’ movement?
  • What are the political and social dimensions of a “biological psychiatry”?
  • Have biomedical conceptualizations of mental distress become hegemonic, both withinmedicine and in the wider society? If so, what are the implications of that hegemony for the prospects of improving care for people who seek it?
  • Is there an undue influence of Big Pharma and the Medical Industrial Complex on the production of psychiatric science? Are there means to responsibly address the inevitable influence of politics and economics on science? Does a politicization of science undermine scientific integrity and the concern for, or claim to, objectivity
  • Are the philosophical assumptions of conventional psychiatry antithetical to the recovery movement? What is the role of expertise in psychiatric practice? Do challenges to epistemic authority run the risk of compromising scientific and clinical integrity?
  • Are there ways of reforming psychiatric education and training that could serve to empower mental health service users and redress some of the shortcomings of conventional psychiatry identified by Critical Psychiatry? 

    Presentations will be strictly limited to 20 minutes, followed by 10 minutes for discussion. Abstracts will be peer reviewed blindly, so the author’s identifying information should be attached separately. We especially encourage submissions by service users. Detailed abstracts should be 600-1000 words and sent via email by November 15, 2016 to Christian Perring (, Douglas Porter (, and Scott Waterman ( Notices of acceptance or rejection will be distributed in January.

Bedlam: the asylum and beyond (Wellcome Trust exhibition) September 2016 – January 2017

Bedlam: the asylum and beyond


15 September 2016 – 15 January 2017

Follow the rise and fall of the mental asylum and explore how it has shaped the complex landscape of mental health today. Reimagine the institution, informed by the experiences of the patients, doctors, artists and reformers who inhabited the asylum or created alternatives to it.

Today asylums have largely been consigned to history but mental illness is more prevalent than ever, as our culture teems with therapeutic possibilities: from prescription medications and clinical treatment to complementary medicines, online support, and spiritual and creative practices. Against this background, the exhibition interrogates the original ideal that the asylum represented – a place of refuge, sanctuary and care – and asks whether and how it could be reclaimed.

Taking Bethlem Royal Hospital as a starting point, ‘Bedlam: the asylum and beyond’ juxtaposes historical material and medical records with individual testimonies and works by artists such as David Beales, Richard Dadd, Dora García, Eva Kotátková, Madlove: A Designer Asylum, Shana Moulton, Erica Scourti, Javier Téllez and Adolf Wölfli, whose works reflect or reimagine the institution, as both a physical and a virtual space.

This Way Madness Lies: The Asylum and Beyond’, a highly illustrated book produced to accompany the exhibition, will be available from the Wellcome Shop and online.

For more information, click here.

Du fou au malade mental, une histoire de la psychiatrie en quatre épisodes radiophoniques

1898 Hospice de Sainte Anne à Paris en 1898 Le dortoir des agités par PThiriat Roger-Viollet AFP

Hospice de Sainte Anne à Paris en 1898. Le dortoir des agités, par P.Thiriat. [Roger-Viollet – AFP]


Emission CQFD – radio suisse RTS
Du 15 au 18 août 2016, Anne Baecher vous propose de découvrir l’histoire de la psychiatrie avec Aude Fauvel, Maître d’enseignement et de recherche à l’Institut universitaire d’histoire de la médecine et de la santé publique de Lausanne (CHUV-Université de Lausanne)


Episodes :

1. La médicalisation de la folie
Le premier rendez-vous de cette série vous emmène à la fin du XVIIIe siècle, une époque qui voit apparaître une véritable médicalisation de la folie.
2. Le quotidien des fous
Le deuxième épisode de cette série se penche sur les conditions et les lieux de vie des personnes souffrant de pathologies psychiatriques au tournant du XXe siècle.
3. Les traitements de la folie
Dans ce troisième épisode, zoom sur les traitements psychiatriques à travers l’histoire.
4. La fin de l’asile psychiatrique ?

Au fil de l’histoire, il y a eu des périodes durant lesquelles le malade psychique était considéré comme traitable ou, au contraire, qu’il fallait se contenter de l’enfermer. Va-t-on vers la fin de l’asile psychiatrique? C’est la question de l’ultime épisode de cette série.

Pour écouter l’émission :
Pour la podcaster (valable 30 jours) :

Article – The Beautiful Yet Twisted History of Psychological Testing

Psychobook_1000_1024x1024Wired Magazine published an article on the history of psychological testing. The reason: Julian Rothenstein, founder of Redstone Press, edited a book on the subject which will be released in September by Princeton Architectural Press. The title: Psychbook. Games, Tests, Questionnaires. The blurb reads:

Who knew a trip to the therapist could be so much fun, even aesthetically rewarding? Beyond sharing feelings or complaining about your mother, Psychobook reveals the rich history of psychological testing in a fascinating sideways look at classic testing methods, from word-association games to inkblots to personality tests.

Psychobook includes never-before-seen content from long-hidden archives, as well as reimagined tests from contemporary artists and writers, to try out yourself, at home or at parties. A great gift for the therapist in your life and the therapist in you, for anyone interested in the history of psychology and psychological paraphernalia, or for anyone who enjoys games and quizzes. Psychobook will brighten your day and outlook.

To read the Wired article and view a couple of the images from the book, click here.

New Issue – Social History of Medicine

3.coverElizabeth Roberts-Pedersen, Western Sydney University, Australia, published an article in the latest issue of Social History of Medicine, which could be of interest for h-madness readers:

The Hard School: Physical Treatments for War Neurosis in Britain during the Second World War


While accounts of the practice of military psychiatry during the Second World War have tended to emphasise the development of psychodynamic innovations such as therapeutic communities and group therapy in treating patients with war neurosis, this article explores the parallel use of ‘physical treatments’ by British practitioners during the conflict. Focusing on the work of William Sargant and his collaborators at the Sutton Emergency Hospital, it argues for the importance of these treatments not only for understanding the tenor of wartime psychiatry, but for demonstrating the attractions of physical treatments for managing large patient cohorts during wartime and in the post-war decades.

Interview with Richard Noll on Carl Jung and His Legacy


The site CelebrityTypes has recently published an interview with historian of psychiatry Richard Noll, focusing on the work and legacy of Carl Jung.  In the 1990s, Noll published two books on Jung:  The Jung Cult: Origins of a Charismatic Movement (Princeton University Press, 1994) and The Aryan Christ: The Secret Life of Carl Jung (Random House, 1997). His critical assessments of Jung and his followers drew praise from some circles, but also the ire of some proponents of Jung’s ideas.

Noll, however, never really addressed his critics. Here in this interview, he explains why and shares his thoughts on Jung, the response his books received, and the status of Jungian scholarship today.


When your books on Jung came out, you were savaged by certain pro-Jungian authors, yet (joining Nozick and Hume) you never answered your critics. Indeed you simply moved on to other fields altogether. Why did you decide to let the critics have the last word?

Once a book or article appears, it follows its own fate and speaks for itself. I feel it no longer belongs to me but instead must undergo its own ordeal in the arena – that is, if anyone reads and comments on it at all (most publications are totally ignored, by the way). I place great faith in the mechanisms of scholarship as a multigenerational project in which we all interpret and correct each other’s texts. In other words, we wash each other’s diapers because that’s our job – indeed, perversely, it’s our passion. All scholarship, including mine, has a short shelf-life. So that’s one reason.


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