Archive for the ‘ book ’ Category

Book Launch Interview: Greg Eghigian (ed.), Routledge History of Madness and Mental Health (2017)

routledge greg eghigianWe are delighted to announce the publication of the Routledge History of Madness and Mental Health edited by Greg Eghigian, Professor of History at Penn State University and H-Madness co-editor.

The Routledge History of Madness and Mental Health explores the history and historiography of madness from the ancient and medieval worlds to the present day. Global in scope, it includes case studies from Africa, Asia, and South America as well as Europe and North America, drawing together the latest scholarship and source material in this growing field and allowing for fresh comparisons to be made across time and space.

Thematically organised and written by leading academics, chapters discuss broad topics such as the representation of madness in literature and the visual arts, the material culture of madness, the perpetual difficulty of creating a classification system for madness and mental health, madness within life histories, the increased globalisation of knowledge and treatment practices, and the persistence of spiritual and supernatural conceptualisations of experiences associated with madness. This volume also examines the challenges involved in analysing primary sources in this area and how key themes such as class, gender, and race have influenced the treatment and diagnosis of madness throughout history.

Chronologically and geographically wide-ranging, and providing a fascinating overview of the current state of the field, this is essential reading for all students of the history of madness, mental health, psychiatry, and medicine.

With this opportunity, we have asked Greg a few questions about his new book.

Why did you feel it important to begin with the ancient world rather than with the creation of psychiatry as a distinct medical discipline in the 19th Century?

There are a number of reasons I wanted to begin with the ancient world rather than with the 19th century, but let me give you two. First, I think the historiography of mental health suffers from an over-emphasis on the modern period. Now, this is certainly not unique to the field of the history of psychiatry. In many (maybe even most) sub-fields and academic departments in history, specialists in modern history tend to outnumber those in, say, ancient and medieval history. Of course, this is as much a function of demand and general interest as anything else, but it does have the intellectual consequence of skewing research toward the developments of the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries.

In doing so – and this was my second consideration – we reinforce the widely accepted impression that before psychiatry emerged as a discipline, all that existed in the treatment of madness was superstitious belief and abusive interventions. Yet, not only do we know that this is very far from the truth, but when we take a longer view, we can see how ideas, attitudes, and regimens forged centuries ago still cast a shadow today (e.g., the ancient Greek idea of psychagogia as an art of persuasion). We also, however, can note how some of our present-day assumptions about mental illness need to be corrected (e.g., the malady of melancholy is mentioned very little in ancient Greek texts, and the symptoms associated with it over the centuries cannot be linked to the contemporary idea of clinical depression in any kind of direct, linear fashion).

What, in your opinion, is the main novelty of this volume?

It’s really a combination of things. Taken together, the temporal and geographical scope certainly makes it different from most edited volumes I know of. The idea was to give the reader a sense of the state of the field today and the new directions in which it is moving. One cannot do this, in my estimation, without capturing long-term trends and patterns as well as recognizing that the history of madness and its treatment is no longer the preserve of historians of the North Atlantic world. This last point bears repeating. Like our colleagues in other sub-fields, historians of mental health have come to recognize the need for a more global understanding of the subject. The contributions here aim at helping to promote the transnational, cross-cultural, and comparative study of the history of mental disorders and their treatment.

At the same time, I thought it crucial that the volume reflect the growing interest in new topics (e.g., the material culture of psychiatry) and that it also show how perspectives are undergoing some modification about familiar topics, such as psychotherapy and somatic treatments.

Choosing how to separate this vast history into thematic sections is no doubt arbitrary. How did you go about selecting these topics? Are there any other topics you would have liked to see included?

You’re quite right that the task of framing a subject matter so vast is daunting. I began by reflecting on the important epochs and developments historians of madness have flagged as well as themes and regions that often have been overlooked. I then began seeking out scholars with recognized experience in these areas.

What naturally happens in a volume like this, with so many contributors, is that some authors end up having to bow out, leaving some unforeseen gaps. So as editor, one has to improvise a bit and look for connecting threads in what you have before you. In the end, it seemed to me that the connections were there, often in some intriguing ways (e.g. the section on perspectives and experiences).

I would like to have been able to incorporate some contributions on other parts of the world, such as the Middle East, Russia/USSR, and eastern Europe. But in the end, one does the best one can under the circumstances.

I notice you have a rather international list of contributors. Was this intentional, from a theoretical/historiographical perspective?

Oh, yes, this was quite intentional. The historical study of mental health is now an international enterprise, and I considered it essential that the volume reflect this. This means not just including scholars from all over the world, but recruiting scholars with the requisite language and analytical skills to evaluate relevant primary and secondary sources.

In this context, I should also mention that I considered it vital to include contributions from scholars at various stages in their professional development. Senior, mid-career, and junior scholars may well be engaged in a common enterprise, but they often bring different interests, talents, and perspectives to the table. So I wanted to be sure that the volume reflected some of this diversity as well.

And finally—could you tell us more about that beautiful cover image?

Yes, this was done by the German artist Paul Goesch (1885-1940) and is entitled Traumphantasie (Dream Fantasy). Over 300 of Goesch’s works are now featured in the collection of the Prinzhorn Museum in Heidelberg, Germany (as many readers know, the collection began as a project of psychiatrist Hans Prinzhorn during the interwar years to assemble various artistic works created by mentally ill patients). Goesch himself was an active member of the avantgarde, and over the years, he ended up spending two decades in a number of different psychiatric facilities. Tragically he was murdered by German authorities in 1940 in what appears to have been an act that was part of the Nazi regime’s so-called T-4 “euthanasia” program, one that killed over 200,000 mentally and physically disabled individuals. I thought that a book that purports to explore the history of madness (an experience) – and not just, say, the history of psychiatry (a discipline) – needed to give the first word to someone who had to grapple with that experience.

Thank you so much, Greg, for this insightful interview. I think I speak on behalf of everyone at H-Madness when I say we are much looking forward to reading the book!

For more information on this book, click here.

New book – The Recovery Revolution. The Battle Over Addiction Treatment in the United States

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The book The Recovery Revolution. The Battle Over Addiction Treatment in the United States, written by Claire D. Clark, could be of interest to H-Madness readers. The abstract reads:

In the 1960s, as illegal drug use grew from a fringe issue to a pervasive public concern, a new industry arose to treat the addiction epidemic. Over the next five decades, the industry’s leaders promised to rehabilitate the casualties of the drug culture even as incarceration rates for drug-related offenses climbed. In this history of addiction treatment, Claire D. Clark traces the political shift from the radical communitarianism of the 1960s to the conservatism of the Reagan era, uncovering the forgotten origins of today’s recovery movement.

Based on extensive interviews with drug-rehabilitation professionals and archival research, The Recovery Revolution locates the history of treatment activists’ influence on the development of American drug policy. Synanon, a controversial drug-treatment program launched in California in 1958, emphasized a community-based approach to rehabilitation. Its associates helped develop the therapeutic community (TC) model, which encouraged peer confrontation as a path to recovery. As TC treatment pioneers made mutual aid profitable, the model attracted powerful supporters and spread rapidly throughout the country. The TC approach was supported as part of the Nixon administration’s “law-and-order” policies, favored in the Reagan administration’s antidrug campaigns, and remained relevant amid the turbulent drug policies of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. While many contemporary critics characterize American drug policy as simply the expression of moralizing conservatism or a mask for racial oppression, Clark recounts the complicated legacy of the “ex-addict” activists who turned drug treatment into both a product and a political symbol that promoted the impossible dream of a drug-free America.

New book – Therapeutic Fascism. Experiencing the Violence of the Nazi New Order

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The book Therapeutic Fascism: Experiencing the Violence of the Nazi New Order by Ana Antić could be of interest to H-madness readers. This information was retrieved from la vie des idees who published a review about this book. The abstract on the website of Oxford University Press reads:

During World War Two, death and violence permeated all aspects of the everyday lives of ordinary people in Eastern Europe. Throughout the region, the realities of mass murder and incarceration meant that people learnt to live with daily public hangings of civilian hostages and stumbled on corpses of their neighbors. Entire populations were drawn into fierce and uncompromising political and ideological conflicts, and many ended up being more than mere victims or observers: they themselves became perpetrators or facilitators of violence, often to protect their own lives, but also to gain various benefits. Yugoslavia in particular saw a gradual culmination of a complex and brutal civil war, which ultimately killed more civilians than those killed by the foreign occupying armies.

Therapeutic Fascism tells a story of the tremendous impact of such pervasive and multi-layered political violence, and looks at ordinary citizens’ attempts to negotiate these extraordinary wartime political pressures. It examines Yugoslav psychiatric documents as unique windows into this harrowing history, and provides an original perspective on the effects of wartime violence and occupation through the history of psychiatry, mental illness, and personal experience. Using previously unexplored resources, such as patients’ case files, state and institutional archives, and the professional medical literature of the time, this volume explores the socio-cultural history of wartime through the eyes of (mainly lower-class) psychiatric patients. Ana Antic examines how the experiences of observing, suffering, and committing political violence affected the understanding of human psychology, pathology, and normality in wartime and post-war Balkans and Europe.

New book – Freedom and the Cage: Modern Architecture and Psychiatry in Central Europe, 1890–1914

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The book Freedom and the Cage: Modern Architecture and Psychiatry in Central Europe, 1890–1914 written by Leslie Topp could be of interest to H-madness readers. It is published by Penn State University Press as part of the series Buildings, Landscapes, and Societies. The abstract reads:

Spurred by ideals of individual liberty that took hold in the Western world in the late nineteenth century, psychiatrists and public officials sought to reinvent asylums as large-scale, totally designed institutions that offered a level of freedom and normality impossible in the outside world. This volume explores the “caged freedom” that this new psychiatric ethos represented by analyzing seven such buildings established in the Austro-Hungarian monarchy between the late 1890s and World War I.

In the last two decades of the Habsburg Empire, architects of asylums began to abandon traditional corridor-based plans in favor of looser formations of connected villas, echoing through design the urban- and freedom-oriented impulse of the progressive architecture of the time. Leslie Topp considers the paradoxical position of designs that promoted an illusion of freedom even as they exercised careful social and spatial control over patients. In addition to discussing the physical and social aspects of these institutions, Topp shows how the commissioned buildings were symptomatic of larger cultural changes and of the modern asylum’s straining against its ideological anchorage in a premodern past of “unenlightened” restraint on human liberty.

Working at the intersection of the history of architecture and the history of psychiatry, Freedom and the Cage broadens our understanding of the complexity and fluidity of modern architecture’s engagement with the state, with social and medical projects, and with mental health, psychiatry, and psychology.

New book – Governing Habits: Treating Alcoholism in the Post-Soviet Clinic

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The book Governing Habits: Treating Alcoholism in the Post-Soviet Clinic by Eugene Raikhel could be of interest to H-madness readers. The abstract on the website of Cornell University Press reads:

Critics of narcology—as addiction medicine is called in Russia—decry it as being “backward,” hopelessly behind contemporary global medical practices in relation to addiction and substance abuse, and assume that its practitioners lack both professionalism and expertise. On the basis of his research in a range of clinical institutions managing substance abuse in St. Petersburg, Eugene Raikhel increasingly came to understand that these assumptions and critiques obscured more than they revealed. Governing Habits is an ethnography of extraordinary sensitivity and awareness that shows how therapeutic practice and expertise is expressed in the highly specific, yet rapidly transforming milieu of hospitals, clinics, and rehabilitation centers in post­-Soviet Russia. Rather than interpreting narcology as a Soviet survival or a local clinical world on the wane in the face of globalizing evidence-based medicine, Raikhel examines the transformation of the medical management of alcoholism in Russia over the past twenty years.

The website New Books Network also did an interview with the author. You can listen to this 60-minute podcast here.

This information was retrieved from the blog Advances in the history of psychology.

New book – Madhouse: Psychiatry and Politics in Cuban History

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H-madness readers might be interested in the book Madhouse: Psychiatry and Politics in Cuban History written by Jennifer L. Lambe. The abstract on the publishers website reads:

On the outskirts of Havana lies Mazorra, an asylum known to–and at times feared by–ordinary Cubans for over a century. Since its founding in 1857, the island’s first psychiatric hospital has been an object of persistent political attention. Drawing on hospital documents and government records, as well as the popular press, photographs, and oral histories, Jennifer L. Lambe charts the connections between the inner workings of this notorious institution and the highest echelons of Cuban politics. Across the sweep of modern Cuban history, she finds, Mazorra has served as both laboratory and microcosm of the Cuban state: the asylum is an icon of its ignominious colonial and neocolonial past and a crucible of its republican and revolutionary futures.

From its birth, Cuban psychiatry was politically inflected, drawing partisan contention while sparking debates over race, religion, gender, and sexuality. Psychiatric notions were even invested with revolutionary significance after 1959, as the new government undertook ambitious schemes for social reeducation. But Mazorra was not the exclusive province of government officials and professionalizing psychiatrists. U.S. occupiers, Soviet visitors, and, above all, ordinary Cubans infused the institution, both literal and metaphorical, with their own fears, dreams, and alternative meanings. Together, their voices comprise the madhouse that, as Lambe argues, haunts the revolutionary trajectory of Cuban history.

New book – A history of the case study: Sexology, psychoanalysis, literature

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H-madness readers might be interested in the book A history of the case study: Sexology, psychoanalysis, literature written by Birgit Lang, Joy Damousi and Alison Lewis. The abstract reads:

Starting with Central Europe and concluding with the United States of America, this volume tells the story of the case study genre as inseparable from the foundation of sexology and psychoanalysis, and integral to the history of European literature. It examines the nineteenth and twentieth century pioneers of the case study who sought answers to the mysteries of sexual identity and shaped the way we think about sexual modernity. These pioneers include members of professional elites (psychiatrists, psychoanalysts and jurists) and creative writers writing for newly emerging sexual publics.

Among the figures considered in this volume are prolific Austrian writer Leopold von Sacher-Masoch, the psychoanalytic master of case-writing Sigmund Freud and the influential New York psychoanalyst Viola Bernard, who all embraced the case study genre for its ability to convey new knowledge—and indeed a new paradigm for knowledge—in an authoritative manner. At the same time, these writers reinvented the genre’s parameters, reflecting constantly on its pertinence to definitions of the modern subject.

Where previous accounts of the case study have approached the history of the genre from a single disciplinary perspective, this book stands out for its interdisciplinary approach, well-suited to negotiating the ambivalent contexts of modernity. It focuses on key formative moments and locations in the genre’s past, those occasions when and where the conventions of the case study were contested as part of a more profound enquiry into the nature of the human subject.

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