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John Burnham (1929-2017)

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We at h-madness are saddened to hear the news of the passing last week of historian of medicine and psychiatry John Burnham. John served on the faculty at Ohio State University from 1963 to 2002, was president of the American Association for the History of Medicine from 1990-1992, and was editor of the Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences from 1997 to 2000.

Burnham’s works have left an indelible mark on the historiography of the human sciences and mental health in the United States. Over the course of his career, John exhibited a remarkable range of interests: from the historical links connecting the collective fates of drinking, smoking, taking drugs, gambling, and swearing to reconsidering the place of psychoanalysis in America to tracing how psychiatry was transnationalized following World War II through a remarkable switch to English-language communication.

In my estimation, one of his most novel and interesting works was his 2009 book Accident Prone: A History of Technology, Psychology and Misfits of the Machine Age. In it, he moved against the grain of the historiography of contemporary psychiatry – which has tended to focus on the proliferation of diagnoses – and explored how, despite the advocacy of some prominent psychologists following World War I, the diagnosis of “accident proneness” was usurped during the second half of the 20th century by engineers who “developed new technologies to protect all people, thereby introducing a hidden, but radical, egalitarianism.” Here is a fascinating and rather counter-intuitive story that pays attention to the histories of subjectivity, technology, the human sciences, and the environment, while also noting the political consequences of their interactions.

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For those of us moving in the circles of professional conferences on the history of psychiatry and madness, John was a faithful, regular presence. What always struck me about John was his genuine curiosity in the subject and in what others had to say. Despite his vast experience thinking and writing about the history of mental health, he had a passion for hearing what the newest cohorts of junior faculty and PhD students had to say on the subject. His simple words of encouragement helped sustain younger, self-doubting colleagues like myself as we waded through difficult dissertations, unsuccessful job applications, and rejected manuscripts.

Passion, curiosity, intellectual boldness, encouragement: these are some of the chief characteristics of a successful mentor. And they just happen to be some of the characteristics I will always associate with John.

Greg Eghigian

New issue – History of the Human Sciences

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The new issue of the History of the Human Sciences on Psychotherapy in Historical Perspective could be of interest to H-madness readers. The issue is edited by Sarah Marks and contains the following articles:

Sarah Marks, Introduction: Psychotherapy in historical perspective

This article will briefly explore some of the ways in which the past has been used as a means to talk about psychotherapy as a practice and as a profession, its impact on individuals and society, and the ethical debates at stake. It will show how, despite the multiple and competing claims about psychotherapy’s history and its meanings, historians themselves have, to a large degree, not attended to the intellectual and cultural development of many therapeutic approaches. This absence has the potential consequence of implying that therapies have emerged as value-free techniques, outside of a social, economic and political context. The relative neglect of psychotherapy, by contrast with the attention historians have paid to other professions, particularly psychiatry, has also underplayed its societal impact. This article will foreground some of the instances where psychotherapy has become an object of emerging historical interest, including the new research that forms the substance of this special issue of History of the Human Sciences.

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New book – Nineteenth Century American Asylums. A History in Postcards

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The book Nineteenth Century American Asylums. A History in Postcards could be of interest to h-madness readers. The volume is written by Alma Wynelle Deese & Cathy Faye. The abstract reads:

In the nineteenth century, several institutions were established in the United States to house and care for the mentally ill. By 1880, 139 “asylums” and “mental hospitals” had been created using both private and public funds, and by 1890, every state had built one or more publicly supported mental hospitals. Although early American asylums were often underfunded and crowded, they were often one of the few options for those suffering from mental illness. These large and grandiose facilities could therefore serve as a place of refuge. In addition, these asylums were significant places for research and teaching in early medicine, psychiatry, and psychology.

Postcard production blossomed in the late 1800s and early 1900s, coinciding with the establishment of many “state lunatic hospitals.” Featuring more than 300 images of early public and private asylums as presented in picture postcards, this book offers a fascinating view of these grand structures, the expansive grounds and gardens they occupied, and their unique architectural features. The images are accompanied by brief historical descriptions of each institution, along with information about their current status. Together, the images and text offer the reader an opportunity to explore the space and places of early mental health care of the United States.

This information was retrieved from the Advances in the History of Psychology blog.

 

 

Dissertations – Madness in Early Modern England

Alison R. Brown: “Though Troubled Be My Brain:” Madness in Early Modern England, 1603-1714

This dissertation is a study of madness in Stuart-Era England. Madness was pervasive in early modern England; it was in the streets, performed on stage, discussed in political pamphlets and legal treatises, and physically housed in Bethlehem Hospital. Madness, therefore, serves as a significant lens because in differentiating between madness and sanity, contemporaries regularly drew clear boundaries between acceptable, or “normal” behavior, and unacceptable, or “abnormal” behavior, that was particular to seventeenth-century English culture and society. Specifically, I argue that madness serves as a channel to examine the diagnoses and treatment of mental disorders that contemporaries believed altered the body and mind, the legal repercussions of abnormal behavior at the state and local level, and the use of corporeal rhetoric in political culture.

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Frontispiece of “The Ranters Declaration” (1650). The Ranters were a radical religious and political group that emerged during the mid-century crisis in England. Many critics of their movement described them as “The Mad Crew.”

In studying the diagnoses and treatments of diseases that altered the body and mind, we encounter contemporaries negotiating between the boundaries of madness and sanity in familial and community relationships, their choice of medical practitioner, their conception of the mind-body relationship, and the ways in which the interplay between natural and supernatural beliefs affected medicinal practices. In negotiating the boundaries between madness and sanity in gender relations, the law, and political culture, we encounter representations of the mad such as “Tom of Bedlam” and “Mad Bess,” recognizable characters in poems, riddles, and ballads. Representations of the mad and madness itself formed discursive elements in philosophy, religious nonconformity, gendered language, legal statutes, Personal Acts of Parliament, inquisitions of lunacy, the symbolism of “undress,” or nakedness, and in political propaganda meant to delegitimize opposing parties. Therefore, the ways in which contemporaries recognized, interpreted, and managed madness provides insight into aspects of English society colored by divisions between acceptable and unacceptable behavior.

Before public institutions for the insane were founded specifically for that purpose, family or community-based care was the norm for the mad, in addition to the few private madhouses that were founded by private entrepreneurs during the last half of the seventeenth century. With no bureaucratic system of recordkeeping, source limitations seemingly restricted historians to the period starting a century and a half later when public asylums were built. Consequently, this dissertation draws on a wide variety of sources in order to creatively circumvent this problem, including manuscripts, parish records, land commissions, autobiography, spiritual biography, criminal cases, political pamphlets, doctors’ notes, medical guidebooks, and more.

Alison R. Brown is a Ph.D. Candidate at Purdue University working with Professor Melinda S. Zook.

Contact: brown923@purdue.edu

 

Merken

Call for Collaborators for h-madness

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As announced in January, h-madness is embarking on a set of major changes to the website and its management. It is our belief that it is time for the site to take on a more lively feel and for a wider and diverse circle of specialists in the field to be involved in generating content for h-madness.

This means, among other things, bringing on board scholars from all stages in their careers and from across the world. To that end, we are issuing a general Call for Collaborators. More specifically, we invite scholars conducting research, writing, and/or teaching on the subject of the history of madness and mental health who are interested in becoming involved in helping to run h-madness to submit a statement of their interest in one or more of the following positions:

1. H-Madness Advisory Board

The advisory board’s main job will be to serve as a resource for the senior editors and, similar to most academic journals, will be composed of more or less senior scholars in the field. Board member involvement will likely be only occasional, perhaps receiving no more than 4-5 emails/year.

2. Section Editors

Section editors will be involved in h-madness on a weekly – and, at times, perhaps a daily – basis, responsible for writing, editing, and posting content (this includes soliciting contributions from scholars in the field). Section editors may be at most any stage in their careers (from advanced doctoral students to senior scholars).

3. Editorial Assistants

The responsibility of editorial assistants will be to aid the senior editors and the section editors in their work. While most of their responsibilities will involve correspondence and website management, they also will be encouraged to generate content. Doctoral students – particularly those early on in their studies – interested in getting involved in h-madness should apply for these positions.

If you have an interest in joining h-madness in any of these capacities, submit a brief statement of interest (no more than 1-3 paragraphs) and a cv to <hpsychiatry [at] gmail.com> by March 6. And, of course, if you have any questions, feel free to contact us.

The Editors

7th Anniversary of h-madness: Upcoming Changes

To All Our Readers and Contributors:

Today marks the seventh anniversary of h-madness. When we began this blog in 2010, we started it in the knowledge that there was great interest in the history of mental health and psychiatry out there as well as a vibrant and innovative community of scholars. Up to that point, however, we had no online site where those of us engaged in the study of the history of madness could exchange timely information about meetings, events, publications, and interests. Over the years, we have not only circulated the details about conferences, articles, and books, but also posted book reviews, film reviews, reviews of exhibitions, and autobiographical commentaries.

It has not escaped our notice, however, that over the recent past the blog has been primarily limited to reporting on upcoming conferences and talks and new publications. It is our belief, however, that the strength of an online site lies in its ability to offer far more dynamic and unconventional opportunities for professional communication.

For that reason, over the coming months, we will be revamping the website and enhancing its content. Among other things, this will likely involve migrating the website to a university server and reorganizing the site’s administration.

In addition, we will be recruiting new contributors. In the near future, we will issue a more formal Call for Collaborators. But if you are interested in getting actively involved in h-madness, please feel free to get in touch with us at <hpsychiatry [at] gmail.com>.

Stay tuned for me details as things progress. And keep in mind that the editors here at h-madness are always eager to hear your thoughts on how to make the site better. So please contact us to share your ideas.

Best,
The Editors

CfP Special Issue on the History of Global Psychology and Psychiatry

History of Psychology invites submissions for a special issue on the history of psychology and psychiatry in the global world.

Until recently, historical research in the history of psychology and psychiatry tended to focus on the development of these disciplines in the western world exclusively. When the rest of the world was taken into account, it was often portrayed as the recipient of western insights and not as a place where psychological and psychiatric knowledge originated or where practitioners made genuine contributions to both fields. Over the past two or three decades, historians of psychiatry have devoted ample energy to the history of colonial psychiatry, analyzing developments in the non-western world. Historians of psychology, however, have arguably paid less attention to developments in the non-western world.

In this special issue, we seek to consolidate and extend the historical analysis of psychology and psychiatry beyond the Atlantic or western world. We welcome original contributions on initiatives and developments in the colonial era. In addition, we seek to expand historical interest in the post-colonial era, starting with the Cold War and coming up to the present.

The submission deadline is May 15, 2017.

The main text of each manuscript, exclusive of figures, tables, references, or appendices, should not exceed 35 double spaced pages (approximately 7,500 words). Initial inquiries regarding the special issue may be sent to the guest editors, Hans Pols (University of Sydney) <hans.pols@sydney.edu.au> and Harry Yi-Liu Wu (University of Hong Kong) <hylw@hku.hk> or the regular editor, Nadine Weidman <hop.editor@icloud.com>.

Manuscripts should be submitted through the History of Psychology Manuscript Submission Portal with a cover letter indicating that the paper is to be considered for the special issue. Please see the Instructions to Authors information located on the History of Psychology website.

 

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