Archive for the ‘ Uncategorized ’ Category

New issue: History of Psychiatry

HIst of Psych coverThe March 2016 issue of History of Psychiatry is now online. It contains a number of articles and a classic text, all outlined below, as well as an Obituary for Professor John Forrester.

“Psychogeriatrics in England in the 1950s: greater knowledge with little impact on provision of services” (Claire Hilton)

In the 1950s, the population aged over 65 years continued to increase, and older people occupied mental hospital beds disproportionately. A few psychiatrists and geriatricians demonstrated what could be done to improve the wellbeing of mentally unwell older people, who were usually labelled as having irreversible ‘senile dementia’. Martin Roth demonstrated that ‘senile dementia’ comprised five different disorders, some of which were reversible. These findings challenged established teaching and were doubted by colleagues. Despite diagnostic improvements and therapeutic successes, clinical practice changed little. Official reports highlighted the needs, but government commitment to increase and improve services did not materialize.

“The nature of delusion: psychologically explicable? psychologically inexplicable? philosophically explicable? Part 2” (J Cutting and M Musalek)

The first part of this article dealt with the extant formulations of delusion, psychiatric and psychological, suggestions which, respectively, regard delusion as psychologically inexplicable or explicable. All this was subjected to critique. This second part puts forward informed philosophical thesis whereby delusion can be explained within the philosophical movement known as phenomenology and, in particular, Max Scheler’s version of this.

Psychiatric governance, völkisch corporatism, and the German Research Institute of Psychiatry in Munich (1912–26). Part 1 (Eric J EngstromWolfgang Burgmairand Matthias M Weber)

This is the first of two articles exploring in depth some of the early organizational strategies that were marshalled in efforts to found and develop the German Research Institute of Psychiatry (Deutsche Forschungsanstalt für Psychiatrie) in 1917. After briefly discussing plans for a German research institute before World War I, the article examines the political strategies and networks that Emil Kraepelin used to recruit support for the institute. It argues that his efforts at psychiatric governance can best be understood as a form of völkisch corporatism which sought to mobilize and coordinate a group of players in the service of higher biopolitical and hygienic ends. The article examines the wartime arguments used to justify the institute, the list of protagonists actively engaged in recruiting financial and political support, the various social, scientific and political networks that they exploited, and the local contingencies that had to be negotiated in order to found the research institute.

Psychiatric care at a national mental institution during the Spanish Civil War (1936–39): Santa Isabel de Leganés (Paloma Vázquez de la Torre and Olga Villasante)

The scanty research available regarding the health of the mentally ill during the Spanish Civil War is largely due to the loss of most documents, and to the difficulty in accessing the existing archives for decades. Up to the present time, historiography has described overcrowded facilities for the mentally disturbed and the fact that old buildings such as convents and spas were turned into establishments for treating patients with mental problems during the Civil War. However, research reviewing the institutional life and conditions of psychiatric patients during this war is still rather scarce.

The aim of our article is to discuss the characteristics of the patients at Santa Isabel National Mental Asylum between 1936 and 1939, as well as the functioning of this institution located in Leganés, a city to the south of Madrid (Spain). The method for this study includes a review of the medical records, statistical registers and other documents kept in the institution’s Historical Archive. In addition, using documents from other Spanish archives, as well as information obtained from contemporary and secondary sources, we attempt to describe similarities to and differences from other mental institutions.

Pavel Ivanovich Karpov (1873–1932?) – the Russian Prinzhorn: art of the insane in Russia (Vladimir LernerGrigory Podolskyand Eliezer Witztum)

The complicated relationship between the discipline of mental health and the arts has barely been studied systematically. Mental hospitals, shelters and prisons – institutions that accommodate the mentally ill – sometimes promote but often discourage and disrupt the patients’ artistic creativity and the images created. In psychiatric circles, the recognition of patient art was a long, slow and frustrating process. Among the Western psychiatrists who studied the creative activity of the mentally ill, researchers usually mention such names as C. Lombroso, M. Shearing, V. Morgentaller, H. Prinzhorn and others, but rarely refer to their Russian colleagues and contemporaries. Pavel Ivanovich Karpov (1873–1932?), a Russian psychiatrist, was one of the most extensive researchers in the field of the art of the insane, but unfortunately his name is little known among modern psychiatrists. For his clinical and scientific contributions, he deserves to be remembered in the history of psychiatry.

Bipolar disorder and its outcomes: two cohorts, 1875–1924 and 1994–2007, compared (Onome V AtigariMargaret HarrisJoanna Le Nouryand David Healy)

We compared admission rates and outcomes for bipolar disorder patients using the medical records of patients with a first hospital admission in 1875–1924 retrospectively diagnosed based on International Classification of Diseases (ICD)-10 criteria, and patients with a first admission in 1994–2007. The incidences of first admissions in the historical and contemporary periods are comparable: 1.2 and 1.3 per hundred thousand per year, respectively. Manic episodes constituted a greater proportion of admissions historically, while depressive episodes made up more in the contemporary sample. There is no evidence for a reduction in the mean inter-admission intervals with duration of illness. This study suggests that modern treatments may have decreased lengths of stay in hospital, but at a cost of contributing to more admissions. It also points to a shift in the threshold for admissions.

CLASSIC TEXT: ‘Report of the Committee on Mediumistic Phenomena’, by William James (1886)With an introduction by Carlos Alvarado

Mediumship was a topic of great interest to some nineteenth-century students of mental phenomena. Together with the phenomena of hypnosis and other manifestations, mediumship was seen by many as a dissociative phenomenon. The purpose of this Classic Text is to present an excerpt of an article about the topic that William James (1842–1910) published in 1886 in the Proceedings of the American Society for Psychical Research about American medium Leonora E. Piper (1857–1950). The article, an indication of late nineteenth-century interactions between dissociation studies and psychical research, was the first report of research with Mrs Piper, a widely investigated medium of great importance for the development of mediumship studies. In addition to studying the case as a dissociative experience, James explored the possibility that Piper’s mentation contained verifiable information suggestive of ‘supernormal’ knowledge. Consequently, James provides an example of a topic neglected in historical studies, the ideas of those who combined conventional dissociation studies with psychical research.

The issue also contains a number of book reviews and the John Forrester obituary.

To access it, click here.

The Future of the History of the Human Sciences

brain_mapThe Future of the History of the Human Sciences

University of York

Thursday 7th & Friday 8th April 2016

This two-day meeting, hosted jointly by Dr Chris Renwick and History of the Human Sciences, gathers together established scholars and early-career researchers to consider changes wrought in the broad interdisciplinary field of the history of the human sciences by new developments in the medical humanities, biological sciences, and literary/cultural theory. Marking the end of James Good’s 15-year tenure as HHS editor and the beginning of a new editorial team, comprising Dr Felicity Callard, Dr Rhodri Hayward, and Dr Angus Nicholls, the meeting will survey the field’s development since the foundation of HHS almost 20 years ago, and offer provocations – from various disciplinary perspectives – about the directions that it might take in the future.

Speakers include Roger Smith, Steve Fuller, Peter Mandler, Marianne Sommer, Amanda Rees, Michael Finn, Elizabeth Toon, Jessica Hendy, Maurizio Meloni, Des Fitzgerald, Alexandra Bacopoulos-Viau, and Jonna Brenninkmeijer.

There will be four intensive sessions:

  1. The Problem of the Archive: biological data, digital media, material culture, and their impact upon the archive and human nature;
  2. The Problem of the Human: how the neurosciences are challenging conventional approaches to history;
  3. The Problem of the Social: How do models of ‘the social’ in the life sciences challenge those in the social sciences and humanities?
  4. Practice in the Human Sciences: new methods and approaches in medical humanities and science studies.

These sessions will be followed by a roundtable in which the outgoing and incoming History of the Human Sciences editors, plus speakers from the conference, discuss the state of the field and its future.

In keeping with the field’s history and the future challenges that will be discussed, the conference organisers wish to encourage scholars from a wide range disciplinary backgrounds to participate. Attendance is free but places are limited. To register, please visit the conference registration page.

As part of the conference organisers’ commitment to encouraging discussion about the future of the field, six bursaries covering the costs of attending the conference are available for postgraduate students. More information about how to apply for one of these bursaries is available on the postgraduate bursaries page of the conference website.

Further information about the event is available on the conference website.

Conference organizing team:

Chris Renwick

Felicity Callard

Rhodri Hayward

Angus Nicholls

Chris Millard

Des Fitzgerald

Assisted by Daniel Johnson

This conference is possible thanks to the generous support of the Arts and Humanities Research Council, the Wellcome Trust, History of the Human Sciences, and the University of York

Exhibition – States of Mind: Tracing the edges of consciousness

wellcome

States of Mind: Tracing the edges of consciousness

EXHIBITION

4 February 2016 – 16 October 2016

Following on from ‘States of Mind: Ann Veronica Janssens‘, this changing exhibition will examine perspectives from artists, psychologists, philosophers and neuroscientists to interrogate our understanding of the conscious experience.

Exploring phenomena such as somnambulism, synaesthesia, and disorders of memory and consciousness, the exhibition will examine ideas around the nature of consciousness, and in particular what can happen when our typical conscious experience is interrupted, damaged or undermined.

‘States of Mind: Tracing the edges of consciousness’ will feature a series of changing installations. The first one will be ‘The Whisper Heard’ by Imogen Stidworthy, from 4 February until 24 April. Find out more about this and future installations.

The exhibition will also feature work by artists Carla MacKinnon, Louise K Wilson, A. R. Hopwood, Mary Kelly and Aya Ben Ron.

For more information, see http://wellcomecollection.org/exhibitions/states-mind-tracing-edges-consciousness

Siggy meets Krafft-Ebing

New Doc 2

In the Xmas-edition 2015 of the New Yorker, cartoonist Jack Ziegler imagines an encounter between Sigmund Freud and Richard von Krafft-Ebing. Both psychiatrists regularly exchanged ideas in the Vienna of the late 19th century.

To all h-madness readers, a stimulating 2016.

Obituary: Gerald N. Grob (1931-2015)

635858802429544084-GrobCR

We are saddened to report the passing of historian Gerald N. Grob. Grob was Henry E. Sigerist Professor of the History of Medicine (Emeritus) at Rutgers University and its Institute for Health, Health Care Policy and Aging Research. He was a pioneering historian of American psychiatry, the author of such influential works as The Mad Among Us, From Asylum to Community: Mental Health Policy in Modern America, and Mental Institutions in America: Social Policy to 1875. Colleagues and former students remember him especially fondly for his generosity, commitment to teaching, and measured analysis.

In 2012, Grob took part in our series “How I Became a Historian of Psychiatry.” His concluding comments there seeming a fit way to remember him:

In closing I must concede that a series of personal beliefs have clearly shaped my scholarly work. I have never held to the modern belief that human beings mold and control their world in predetermined and predictable ways. This is not in any way to suggest that we are totally powerless to control our destiny. It is only to insist upon both our fallibility and our inability to predict all of the consequences that follow our actions. Nor do I believe that human behavior can be reduced to a set of deterministic or quasi-deterministic laws or generalizations, or that solutions are readily available for all our problems. Tragedy is a recurring theme in human history and defines the parameters of our existence. I have always tried, therefore, to deal sympathetically with our predecessors who grappled–so often in partial and unsuccessful ways as we still do ourselves–with their own distinct problem.

Obituary: John Forrester (1949-2015)

 

forrester-books

Today we received sad news of the passing of Professor John Forrester, one of the leading historians of psychoanalysis. The University of Cambridge Department of History and Philosophy of Science has posted a thoughtful obituary by Simon Schaffer, also published in The Independent (see Professor John Forrester: Philosopher and historian widely celebrated for his work on Sigmund Freud and much-loved as an inspiring teacher).

New Book: “Localization and its Discontents” (Katja Guenther)

localization and discontentsLocalization and Its Discontents

A GENEALOGY OF PSYCHOANALYSIS AND THE NEURO DISCIPLINES

Katja Guenther

University of Chicago Press

Psychoanalysis and neurological medicine have promoted contrasting and seemingly irreconcilable notions of the modern self. Since Freud, psychoanalysts have relied on the spoken word in a therapeutic practice that has revolutionized our understanding of the mind. Neurologists and neurosurgeons, meanwhile, have used material apparatus—the scalpel, the electrode—to probe the workings of the nervous system, and in so doing have radically reshaped our understanding of the brain. Both operate in vastly different institutional and cultural contexts.

Given these differences, it is remarkable that both fields found resources for their development in the same tradition of late nineteenth-century German medicine: neuropsychiatry. In Localization and Its Discontents, Katja Guenther investigates the significance of this common history, drawing on extensive archival research in seven countries, institutional analysis, and close examination of the practical conditions of scientific and clinical work. Her remarkable accomplishment not only reframes the history of psychoanalysis and the neuro disciplines, but also offers us new ways of thinking about their future.

For more information on this book, see the University of Chicago Press website.

%d bloggers like this: