Lecture: Schizophrenics in the twentieth century. Writing the social history of mental illness, by Hervé Guillemain

In the Health Humanities Lecture Series organised at the KU Leuven (Belgium) Hervé Guillemain from Le Mans University will give a lecture titled ‘Schizophrenics in the twentieth century. Writing the social history of mental illness’. The lecture takes place on 22 Jan 2019 at the Kardinaal Mercierzaal of the Institute of Philosophy (Leuven) and is open to everyone, but registration is necessary (via gert.meyers@kuleuven.be).

 

Abstract

“Why and how can a new mental illness arise, evolve and die? The historian Hervé Guillemain answers these very questions, delving into thousands of patient files in order to bring the voices of the ‘zero patients’ of schizophrenia out from the archives. To write from the point of view of clinicians would bring nothing new indeed. It is from the point of view of the schizophrenics that we need to write. They were the servants living and working in harsh conditions, as well as the migrants who were facing the crisis of the 1930’s. They were also young adults hoping for a new kind of empowerment. All of them were shaped under the aegis of science and medical practice, a new population subset recognizable through their gestures, their resistance to therapy, as well as their failure to adapt to the new selective model of French society, whether it was in schools, the army or at work.  Schizophrenia is now considered as a fragile, inoperative and stigmatizing category. The people who would like to rehabilitate these patients nowadays need to take a look back into the past in order to understand the present state of schizophrenia as well as the diffusion of this illness and its historical repercussions.”

 

 

 

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