Conference Report – “Languages of Trauma – Body/Psyche, Historiography, Traumatology, Visual Media”


Conference Report by Jason Crouthamel

On November 25-26, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin hosted the conference, “Languages of Trauma,” sponsored by the Institut für Kulturwissenschaft (Humboldt-Universität) and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and Brooks College at Grand Valley State University. The conference aimed to move trauma research towards new sites of inquiry and innovative methodologies, concentrating on interconnections between language and trauma in audio-visual media, visual culture, national historiographies, medical and political discourse, literary narratives, and the fine arts. The conference speakers focused on questions of disciplinary terminology and explored how different cultures and interest groups – medical professionals, traumatized individuals and communities, patients, families, politicians, artists, and academic scholars – shape distinct notions and conceptions of trauma. A central question that unified the conversations between international interdisciplinary colleagues included: how do shifting and at times competing theories and representations of trauma in different disciplines alter our understanding of trauma?

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Book announcement – Therapeutic Revolutions Pharmaceuticals and Social Change in the Twentieth Century


Even if the book edited by Jeremy A. Greene, Flurin Condrau, and Elizabeth Siegel Watkins is not limited to the history of psychiatry – far from that – the volume certainly is of interest for the readers of h-madness and not only due to the article by Nicolas Henckes entitled “Magic Bullet in the head? Psychiatric revolutions and their aftermath”. The blurb reads:

When asked to compare the practice of medicine today to that of a hundred years ago, most people will respond with a story of therapeutic revolution: Back then we had few effective remedies, but now we have more (and more powerful) tools to fight disease, from antibiotics to psychotropics to steroids to anticancer agents.

This collection challenges the historical accuracy of this revolutionary narrative and offers instead a more nuanced account of the process of therapeutic innovation and the relationships between the development of medicines and social change. These assembled histories and ethnographies span three continents and use the lived experiences of physicians and patients, consumers and providers, and marketers and regulators to reveal the tensions between universal claims of therapeutic knowledge and the actual ways these claims have been used and understood in specific sites, from postwar West Germany pharmacies to twenty-first century Nigerian street markets. By asking us to rethink a story we thought we knew, Therapeutic Revolutions offers invaluable insights to historians, anthropologists, and social scientists of medicine.

For more information, click here.

Book announcement – Deinstitutionalisation and After Post-War: Psychiatry in the Western World


Despo Kritsotaki, Vicky Long and Matthew Smith have finally published the long-awaited – at least by the author of this post – results of their conference organised in 2013 on “Deinstitutionalisation and After: Post-War Psychiatry in Global Perspective”. The blurb reads:

The book relates the history of post-war psychiatry, focusing on deinstitutionalisation, namely the shift from asylum to community in the second part of the twentieth century.
After the Second World War, psychiatry and mental health care were reshaped by deinstitutionalisation. But what exactly was involved in this process? What were the origins of deinstitutionalisation and what did it mean to those who experienced it? What were the ramifications, both positive and negative, of such a fundamental shift in psychiatric care? Post-War Psychiatry in the Western World: Deinstitutionalisation and After seeks to answer these questions by exploring this momentous change in mental health care from 1945 to the present in a wide range of geographical settings. The book articulates a nuanced account of the history of deinstitutionalisation, highlighting the constraints and inconsistencies inherent in treating the mentally ill outside of the asylum, while seeking to inform current debates about how to help the most vulnerable members of society.

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Book announcement – Electroconvulsive Therapy in America: The Anatomy of a Medical Controversy


Jonathan Sadowsky, the Theodore J. Castele Professor of Medical History at Case Western Reserve University, has published a new book entitled “Electroconvulsive Therapy in America
The Anatomy of a Medical Controversy”. The cover blurb reads:

Electroconvulsive Therapy is widely demonized or idealized. Some detractors consider its very use to be a human rights violation, while some promoters depict it as a miracle, the “penicillin of psychiatry.” This book traces the American history of one of the most controversial procedures in medicine, and seeks to provide an explanation of why ECT has been so controversial, juxtaposing evidence from clinical science, personal memoir, and popular culture. Contextualizing the controversies about ECT, instead of simply engaging in them, makes the history of ECT more richly revealing of wider changes in culture and medicine. It shows that the application of electricity to the brain to treat illness is not only a physiological event, but also one embedded in culturally patterned beliefs about the human body, the meaning of sickness, and medical authority.

For more information, click here.

New Issue – Themenportal Europäische Geschichte


The 2016 December issue of the Themenportal Europäische Geschichte includes one article that may be of interest to H-Madness readers.

Heike Karge, Patientenakten aus dem Ersten Weltkrieg als Quelle historischer Forschung in Südosteuropa. The abstract reads:

Gab es in und nach dem Ersten Weltkrieg im jugoslawischen Raum Soldaten, die psychisch am Krieg erkrankten? Die wie in West- und Mitteleuropa als Kriegsneurotiker, als Kriegszitterer, als „shell-shocked soldiers“ mit einer vom Krieg schwer gezeichneten Psyche von den Fronten zurückkehrten? Anders als im angloamerikanischen, west- und mitteleuropäischen Raum sind in der südosteuropäischen Historiografie solche psychiatriegeschichtlichen Fragestellungen ausgesprochen rar. Dabei hat gerade die historiografische Beschäftigung mit dem Ersten Weltkrieg gezeigt, wie fruchtbar eine Perspektive ist, die Psychiatriegeschichte als Kulturgeschichte begreift, also nach dem Verhältnis von Psychiatrie und Gesellschaft in Kriegs- und Nachkriegszeiten fragt. In diesen Studien wurden insbesondere die engen Verwebungen von psychiatrischer Wissenschaft und staatlicher Politik aufgezeigt. Auch für den jugoslawischen Raum liegt nun eine erste diesbezügliche Fallstudie vor.
Mit dem vor drei Jahrzehnten durch Roy Porter eingeleiteten patient’s turn gerieten zunehmend auch die Patientenakten in den Blick der kulturwissenschaftlichen Forschung. War der ursprüngliche Ansatz der Arbeit mit Patientenakten, den bis dahin unsichtbaren Patienten eine Stimme zurückzugeben, hat sich dieser Optimismus an die Quellen inzwischen wieder gelegt. Die Aufzeichnungen in den Patientenakten sind in der Regel Aufzeichnungen über den Patienten, gefiltert durch den Blick des Arztes und des Pflegepersonals. Zugleich sind Patientenakten aber auch materialisierter Ausdruck einer verwaltungstechnischen „Buchhaltung des Wahnsinns.“

To read the entire article, click here.


Oskar Diethelm Library, Weill Cornell Medical College – Acquisition Announcement


The Oskar Diethelm Library, part of the DeWitt Wallace Institute for the History of Psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medical College, recently acquired a group of rare books notable for their importance to the history and development of French psychiatry and neurology. The group includes works by prominent psychiatrists and neurologists Joseph Babinski, Benjamin Ball and Valentin Magnan, among others. A complete list follows.
Babinski, Joseph. Grand et petit hypnotism, Paris, aux bureaux du progrès médical, 1889.

In this work, Babinski (1857-1932), a French neurologist of Polish descent, aims to defend the position of Jean-Martin Charcot and the Salpêtrière Hospital on hypnotism against the opinion of Hippolyte Bernheim and the Nancy School. According to WorldCat, a global catalog of library collections, there is only one other copy of this work available in the United States.

Ball, Benjamin. Du délire des persecutions ou maladie de Lasègue, Paris, Asselin et Houzeau, 1890.

Ball (1833-1893) studied medicine under Charcot and was an assistant of Charles Lasègue at the Salpêtrière Hospital. In this publication of conferences given to faculty, he describes the paranoid state in which a person believes they are being persecuted.

Brierre de Boismont, Alexandre. Considérations médico-légales sur l’interdiction des aliénés, Paris, chez J.-B. Baillière, 1830.

French psychiatrist, Alexandre Jacques François Brièrre de Boismont (1797-1881), analyzes the classification of mental illnesses in this text. The Oskar Diethelm Library holds many other works by this author. The only other copy of this work in the United States is at the National Library of Medicine.

Duchenne de Boulogne, Guillaume-Benjamin. Recherches sur les propriétés physiologiques et thérapeutiques de l’électricité de frottement, de l’électricité de contact et de l’électricité d’induction, Paris, Rignoux, 1851.

Guillaume-Benjamin-Amand Duchenne de Boulogne (1806-1875) was a French neurologist who initiated pioneering studies on the electrical stimulation of muscles. He is credited as one of the developers of electro-physiology and electro-therapeutics. Jean-Martin Charcot was his student and was influenced by his discoveries. The only other copy of this work in the United States is at the Bakken Museum in Minneapolis.

Gras, François. L’aliénation mentale chez les prostituées Lyon, Imprimerie Mougin-Rusand, Waltener & Cie successeurs, s.d. (1901).

This work presents Dr. Gras’s observations on madness in prostitutes. He determined that it was most often caused by alcoholism or syphilis. According to WorldCat, this is the only extant copy of this work available in the United States.

Magnan, Valentin. Des hallucinations bilatérales de caractère différent suivant le côté affecté, Extrait des Archives de neurologie (n°18), (1883)

French psychiatrist Valentin Magnan (1835-1916) was an important figure in the classification of mental diseases. In this work he presents his observations on individuals with bilateral hallucinations. According to WorldCat, this is the only extant copy of this work available in the United States.

Parant, Armand Victor. Les délires de jalousie. Clinique (jalousie sénile-délires systématiques), médecine légale, Toulouse, Edouard Privat, 1901.

This thesis on jealous delusions was written by Armand Victor Parant (1876- ) for a degree in medicine from the University of Paris. Parant’s father was Victor Parant (1848-1924), French psychiatrist and Director of Medicine at Sante de Toulouse.



Marisa Shaari, MLIS

Special Collections Librarian, Oskar Diethelm Library
DeWitt Wallace Institute for the History of Psychiatry

Weill Cornell Medical College, New York, NY

New Issue – Santé Mentale au Québec


L’archive psychiatrique – Santé mentale au Québec – Volume XLI, numéro 2, Automne 2016

Dossier coordonné par Marie-Claude Thifault, Isabelle Perreault, Alexandre Klein et Jean Caron


7 Éditorial – Jean Caron
Numéro thématique L’archive psychiatrique

9 L’archive psychiatrique – Alexandre Klein, Isabelle Perreault et Marie-Claude Thifault

21 À la recherche de l’archive psychiatrique perdue. L’histoire des fonds d’archives d’Alfred Binet (1857-1911)- Alexandre Klein

33 La collection patrimoniale de l’Institut universitaire en santé mentale de Montréal : un trésor à préserver – Christine Bolduc

41 Manque de collaboration, manque d’effectifs ou disparition des données : le nécessaire et difficile accès aux archives psychiatriques- Marie LeBel

51 L’archive iconographique : que nous révèle la culture visuelle des débuts de la psychiatrie française au dix-neuvième siècle ? – Ginette Jubinville

69 Les notes « Observations de l’infirmière » du Département de psychiatrie de l’Hôpital Montfort : une source archivistique incontournable en santé mentale – Sandra Harrisson

83 Les archives psychiatriques : une occasion de saisir l’expérience du patient (Belgique, entre-deux-guerres) – Veerle Massin

101 Des institutions privées d’histoire. Enquête sur les archives d’entreprises capitalistes dédiées à la gestion de la folie (France, 1930-1950) – Hervé Guillemain

119 La bande des six réclame plus de liberté. Délinquants juvéniles internés à Saint-Jean-de-Dieu, milieu 20e siècle – Martin Desmeules et Marie-Claude Thifault

133 Reconstituer une sociabilité savante à partir du fonds d’archives du Centre Hospitalier Henri Ey de Bonneval : réseaux et leurres induits par le travail archivistique – Emmanuel Delille

147 Les archives psychiatriques : des archives pour quelle histoire ? Les papiers de René L. – Philippe Artières

159 La représentation socioculturelle du suicide au Québec au milieu du 20e siècle. Étude de cas – Alexandre Pelletier-Audet


165 Les Pinceaux d’Or : une expérience d’hygiène mentale auprès d’aînés en besoins psychosociaux – Hubert Wallot

177 Mettre à contribution le vécu expérientiel des familles : l’initiative Pair Aidant Famille – Catherine Briand, Rose-Anne St-Paul et Francine Dubé

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