Call for paper – Patients et traitements psychiatriques à l’écran : pratiques militantes, soins et processus de subjectivation

Patients et traitements psychiatriques à l’écran : pratiques
militantes, soins et processus de subjectivation, 5-6 décembre 2012,
EHESS Paris.

 

 

 

Organisateurs: Jean-Christophe Coffin (Université Paris Descartes /
CAK), Nausica Zaballos (CAK / IRIS), Alessandro Manna (IRIS).

La mise en scène de l’univers asilaire

A partir des années 1960, plusieurs films mettant en scène l’internement
psychiatrique reçoivent un excellent accueil de la critique et du
public. De nombreux réalisateurs, s’inscrivant dans la mouvance du
Nouvel Hollywood, se risquent à traiter le thème de la folie à travers
une démarche visuelle et artistique non-consensuelle. Qu’ils adoptent
une posture d’ethnographe, tel Frederick Wiseman pour son documentaire
Titicut Follies (1967), ou optent, à l’instar de Milos Forman avec
Vol au-dessus d’un nid de coucou (1975), pour l’adaptation
cinématographique d’un roman, ces cinéastes s’attachent à montrer et
dénoncer la violence inique des traitements imposés aux patients : le
lieu de soin est dépeint, dans ces œuvres, comme une institution malade.
Cette production cinématographique s’inscrit dans une tradition
remontant aux années 1940 qui, avec des productions appartenant à des
genres différents – du fantastique de Bedlam (inspiré de l’œuvre
picturale A Rake’s Progress de William Hogarth) au drame réaliste de
The Snake Pit (Anatole Litvak, 1948) – retranscrivent l’expérience de
l’internement à travers le regard de personnes présentées comme victimes
des contraintes normatives imposées par l’institution psychiatrique et
des soignants peu avenants. La portée dénonciatrice primant sur la
retranscription de l’expérience individuelle subjective de la pathologie
mentale, le héros principal est bien souvent un non-malade : un écrivain
rêvant de gagner le prix Pulitzer en « s’infiltrant dans l’univers
asilaire » pour en livrer un récit qui fera date dans Shock Corridor
de Samuel Fuller (1963) ; ou bien un marginal qui pense, en se faisant
interner, échapper à la prison (Vol au-dessus d’un nid de coucou).

Filmer la folie, entre fiction et documentaire

La folie à l’écran : un motif récurrent auprès de cinéastes « engagés »? Certainement, si l’on songe à Family Life de Ken Loach (1971),
violente chronique de la descente aux enfers d’une jeune schizophrène
qui montre que des facteurs familiaux couplés au manque d’empathie des
praticiens peuvent aggraver voire provoquer des troubles mentaux. Si la
fiction cinématographique pointe directement du doigt l’institution, se
faisant l’écho des écrits des représentants les plus virulents du
mouvement antipsychiatrique anglo-saxon (Laing, Cooper), le documentaire
vise à faire apparaître les expériences menées par des psychiatres ou
éducateurs désireux d’améliorer le sort de leurs patients en leur
offrant plus de liberté et d’autonomie. On pensera ainsi à Ce gamin-là
de Renaud Victor (1975), qui retrace l’expérience de Fernand Deligny
avec des enfants autistes, ou à Fous à délier de Marco Bellochio
(1975), qui enquête sur le parcours de trois ex-patients employés à
l’usine dans l’Italie de Franco Basaglia. Au cours des années 1990
d’autres réalisateurs, tels que Benoît Dervaux, Jean-Michel Carré et
Nicolas Philibert, se proposent de faire le bilan de l’antipsychiatrie
ou de la psychothérapie institutionnelle. La clinique de la Borde et le
Coral, lieu de vie qui accueille indifféremment psychotiques et jeunes
délinquants, ouvrent ainsi leurs portes aux cinéastes qui, à travers des
films à la croisée du documentaire et de la fiction (comme par exemple
Visiblement je vous aime, 1995), donnent la parole aux soignants et
patients.

Cadrage

La folie à l’écran : trois axes de recherche

Il s’agira en premier lieu d’étudier les relations entre l’histoire de
la folie mise à l’écran – qu’il s’agisse de la fiction cinématographique
ou bien du documentaire ethnographique ou journalistique – et l’histoire
des changements survenus au sein du monde psychiatrique tout au long du
dernier demi-siècle. On s’interrogera à la fois sur le film et l’enquête
filmée en tant que moyens « engagés » de réhabiliter une pratique ou une
éthique des soins en psychiatrie (La moindre des choses, La
devinière, Visiblement je vous aime, Valvert, la série italienne
Il était une fois la cité des fous de Marco Turco), et sur le rôle
qu’ils ont pu éventuellement jouer dans l’univers du militantisme en
psychiatrie.

Le deuxième axe s’interrogera sur les usages sociaux et politiques de la
folie mise à l’écran, et notamment sur les films produits par les
acteurs (psychiatres, usagers, familles) du champ psychiatrique. De
quelles manières les images de la folie peuvent-elles participer à la
construction des controverses morales et politiques propres au monde
psy (on songera à la polémique autour du documentaire sur l’autisme,
Le Mur) ? Comment sont-elles mobilisées dans une cause et ainsi
appropriées par de différents acteurs, qu’il s’agisse de militer contre
la « dérive » sécuritaire de la psychiatrie contemporaine, comme l’a
récemment fait en France le documentaire Un monde sans fous, ou bien
au contraire de dénoncer les politiques de désinstitutionalisation et de
plaidoyer pour l’usage de l’électro convulsivothérapie en montrant la
souffrance des familles, comme le très discuté reportage brésilien
Omission de prêter secours : des patients psychiatriques prennent la
parole ?

Le troisième axe portera enfin sur la question des processus de
subjectivation. La valeur de preuve attenante aux témoignages rassemblés
contribue-t-elle à produire de nouvelles subjectivités qui doivent
composer avec les contingences des productions cinématographiques et
audiovisuelles ? Comment les éléments autobiographiques personnels
sont-ils mobilisés pour traiter, non plus de la folie, mais du handicap
psychique, concept porté en France par l’adoption de la nouvelle
législation sur le handicap de 2005 ? Et dans quelle mesure
l’appropriation des moyens visuels par les associations d’usagers ne
reflète-t-elle pas un retour du politique dans la sphère du privé,
privant parfois ceux qui font l’expérience de la maladie mentale et des
soins en psychiatrie, de la possibilité de produire des objets
cinématographiques relevant réellement de l’intime ? Dans ce contexte,
un intérêt particulier sera également accordé à toute contribution
portant sur les dispositifs narratifs et les moyens techniques (split
screen, musique, ellipses…) par lesquels l’expérience du trouble mental
peut être traduite à l’écran.

Vos propositions de communications doivent nous parvenir sous la forme

d’un résumé de 450 mots maximum avant le 18 mai 2012 envoyé en
pièce-jointe à l’adresse suivante: nausica.zaballos@ehess.fr

The mental asylum of San Servolo,Venice (1860–1978): plots, classifications, subjects. Epistemology and history.

In autumn 2006, Professor Mario Galzigna (Department of Historical Studies, Ca’Foscari University, Venice) started a historical epistemological research project at the Archives of the Foundation IRSESC (Social and Cultural Emargination Research and Studies Institute:http://www.fondazionesanservolo.it/html/fondazione.asp), formerly seat of the old mental asylum of Venice (which closed on 13 August 1978 after 250 years).

The Foundation’s heritage comprises a very large archive including the following sections: administrative; sanitary; accounting; photographic. In addition, it includes the book collections of the old psychiatric hospitals of San Servolo,San Clemente (feminine section: 1873–1987) and provincial civil Hospital SS.Giovanni e Paolo of Venice (mental hospital section). There is also material relating to San Servolo’s pharmacy. The main aim of the research so far – by means of a systematic examination of a selection of clinical records –
has been the reconstruction of the psychiatric apparatus of San Servolo from 1840 to 1904, in its multiple forms, and the analysis of the network of relations between the asylum and other main institutions, with particular attention to those with political, sanitary and judicial power in the Veneto region of the period.

Now we would like to enlarge the perspective of this research by setting the psychiatric experience of San Servolo into the historical, institutional and scientific European context from the point of view of both psychiatric practice and clinical nosography (evolution in diagnostical approaches; assessment of the influence of European scientifi c production on these practices and theories).
At present, we are looking for European or non-European sponsors and partners and fi nancial support in order to continue our work in a wider, international perspective and context.

For further information, please contact: EGIDIO PRIANI (egidiopriani@libero.it) and click here.

Book review – Helen Lefkowitz Horowitz. Wild Unrest: Charlotte Perkins Gilman and the Making of “The Yellow Wall-Paper” (Oxford 2010)

By Daisy Dominguez

In Wild Unrest: Charlotte Perkins Gilman and the Making of “The Yellow Wall-Paper,” Helen Lefkowitz Horowitz presents a detailed reading of the bountiful diaries, journals, and correspondence of Gilman and those close to her leading up to the publication of her famous short story. Her papers reveal that during her courtship and marriage to her first husband, Charles Walter Stetson, she sought to reconcile both her conflicting desires to be in a relationship and to remain independent with Stetson’s more traditional views regarding women in marriage. By also analyzing Gilman’s reading habits to show how they shaped her social and political views, Horowitz demonstrates that they informed this internal struggle. A reader of Popular Science Monthly, Gilman picked up the deterministic philosophy of Herbert Spencer but also William B. Carpenter’s ideas on the importance of the will. Surprisingly, Horowitz also reveals that in her early twenties, Charlotte was uninformed about the women’s rights movement and lacked personal knowledge of role models for being an independent married woman. It wasn’t until 1886-1887 that she became immersed in the feminist Woman’s Journal.

Horowitz’s main argument is that despite her claim, Gilman did not write the “The Yellow Wallpaper” as a critique of the one-month “rest cure” she was prescribed by the famous Dr. Weir Mitchell in 1887. The rest cure consisted of a large amount of bed rest, seclusion, massages, electrotherapy, and a diet of increased fat. In contrast to the active “camp cure” prescribed for men who suffered from neurasthenia, the rest cure was symbolic of the circumscription of women in general. (Interestingly, by the time Gilman was treated, Mitchell had altered his views to allow for more physical activity, which explains his recommendation that she follow through on her interest in working at a gymnasium upon returning home.[1]) Twenty-six years after her stay with Mitchell, in a 1913 article in her periodical Forerunner, Gilman wrote that the “best result” of her short story was its influence on Mitchell, whom she had sent a copy. “Many years later,” she noted, “I was told that the great specialist had admitted to friends of his that he had altered his treatment of neurasthenia since reading ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’.”[2] Horowitz argues that while the rest cure was a significant event in Gilman’s life, the short story told more about Gilman’s feelings toward Stetson and the institution of marriage than how she felt about Mitchell’s treatment.

Noting that, “History has portrayed the reasoning Charlotte with the strong will as the true Charlotte,”[3] Horowitz does an admirable job of untangling the accepted truth from the more personal one detailed in years of correspondence and journal and diary entries. My only question surrounds the lack of documentation during a crucial time: Gilman stopped writing in her journal from 1887, the same year when she went to Mitchell and around the same time when she became a more avid reader of Women’s Journal, and 1890, when The Yellow Wallpaper was written. I would have been interested in some speculation about how Gilman’s deeper immersion in the suffragist publication and women’s issues might have begun to inform her writings and how she perceived them. Did it help solidify, in the remove of years, what she saw as the short story’s purpose? As it stands, Horowitz could not do anything about this gap and it does not, in the end, negate her well-researched and compelling argument. Wild Unrest would be a good read for anyone interested in knowing Gilman’s early years and influences.

Daisy Dominguez is an assistant professor at the City College of New York, CUNY.


[1] Horowitz, Wild Unrest, 138.

[2]Charlotte Perkins Gilman, “Why I Wrote ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’,” in The Captive Imagination: A Casebook on The Yellow Wallpaper, ed. Catherine Golden (New York: The Feminist Press, 1992), 51-53.

[3] Horowitz, Wild Unrest, 47.

“Urban Emotions: A Symposium on Stress and the City” (London, 21 March 2012)

List members are warmly invited to the following workshop:
URBAN EMOTIONS: A SYMPOSIUM ON STRESS AND THE CITY
A joint meeting of the Queen Mary Centre for the History of the
Emotions and the Queen Mary City Centre

Wednesday 21 March 2012

The city has long been held up as a kind of psychopathological miasma.
From the urban hypochondria identified by George Cheyne in The English
Malady (1733) through to the theories of alienation and anomie
advanced by Emile Durkheim, Walter Benjamin and Louis Wirth, the speed
and stress of city life is seen as exhausting psychological resources
and undermining mental health. In 2011 Canadian and German
neuroscientists claimed to have demonstrated the overstimulation of
the amygdala in city dwellers led to long term changes brain function.

In this workshop organised by the Queen Mary City Centre and the
Centre for the History of the Emotions, Felicity Callard, James
Mansell and Edmund Ramsden will interrogate the apparent connections
between urbanism and psychopathology and consider the theories and
techniques that have been deployed to make these forces visible.

James Mansell (Nottingham), ”Londonitis’: Noise and Nervousness in
Early Twentieth-Century London’

What was the relationship between the experience of urban noise and
popular constructions of ‘nervousness’ in early twentieth-century
culture? Organisations such as the Anti-Noise League (established in
1933) took it for granted that noise was the cause of ‘nervous
exhaustion’ in London’s population (a condition labelled ‘Londonitis’
by medical writer Edwin Ash) and successfully lobbied for all kinds of
new legislation to control the urban soundscape. Emerging between
somatic and psychological explanations for nervous illness, the early
twentieth-century medicalisation of urban noise relied upon a
hybridisation of the two. This paper examines popular psychological
writings in order to explain why noise, often as a metaphor for
modernity itself, came to be considered such a significant threat to
twentieth-century urbanism.

Edmund Ramsden (Manchester), Coping with the “whirl of the crowd”:
Animal models and model cities in the twentieth century United States.

The study of population dynamics by animal ecologists and ethologists
helped generate considerable interest in the problem of crowding
stress among social and medical scientists and the design and planning
professions. Most notable were a series of experiments on rats and
mice carried out by John B. Calhoun at the National Institute of
Mental Health from 1956-1986. In 1962, Calhoun published a
particularly influential paper that identified a series of “social
pathologies” that resulted from increased population density, such as
violence, withdrawal and sexual deviance. The paper will explore how
Calhoun’s work was used to express fears of, and solutions for, the
damaging effects of the American city on social behaviour and
psychosocial wellbeing. However, in spite of its influence, Calhoun’s
rats also served as a focal point for growing opposition to the
attempts to resolve urban problems regarding mental health and social
deviancy through the planning and design of physical spaces.

Felicity Callard (MPIWG, Berlin and Durham), Where did the city go?
Donald Klein, panic disorder, and the rethinking of agoraphobia

When agoraphobia emerged as a named condition in the early 1870s,
discussions regarding its phenomenology and aetiology intimately
engaged the question of urban modernity. Both in pre-psychoanalytic
and psychoanalytic formulations of agoraphobia, for example, the
spatial form of the city – its architecture, its socio-spatial
relations, its materialization of a ‘public sphere’ – were central to
accounts of what agoraphobia was, whence it arose, and how it might be
combated. But after the Second World War, psychiatrists and
psychologists’ investigations of agoraphobic anxiety tended to result
in the city falling away as a central analytical term. In various
models that attempted to account for pathological anxiety that limited
individuals’ ability to move freely in their daily lives, the city
appeared as a kind of backdrop – if it appeared at all. In this paper,
I address the formulations of the American psychiatrist and
psychopharmacologist Donald Klein, whose influential research on panic
disorder (which he started in the 1950s and continues to this day)
exemplifies this turn away from the city. His conceptualizations of
pathological anxiety served to install a very different model of the
articulation between subject, pathological emotion and socio-spatial
word, a model that has had – through its consolidation in American
psychiatric nosology – a significant influence on today’s
Anglo-American discourses concerning anxiety and public space.
The meeting will run from 2.30 pm. to 6pm in the G. O. Jones
Building, Room 602, Mile End Campus, Queen Mary University of London.

For further information please contact the Centre for the History of
the Emotions administrator, Adam
Wilkinson a.wilkinson@qmul.ac.uk

Dr Rhodri Hayward
Director of Graduate Studies
School of History
Queen Mary, University of London
LONDON E1 4NS

020 7882 2863
r.hayward@qmul.ac.uk

The Girls in Le Roy: A Case of Conversion Disorder?

The New York Times has published an interesting article on the case of 18 girls in Le Roy, New York (USA) who recently began manifesting a range of unusual symptoms, including tics, arm swings, and hums.  In some cases, the symptoms have been quite severe.  The case has attracted national attention in the United States, and a number of the affected girls have appeared on talk shows.  Experts have been divided on what the cause of the affliction might be, but many experts believe the case involves conversion disorder (formerly hysteria) and/or mass psychogenic illness.

Psychoanalysis in the Age of Totalitarianism

Horkheimer and Adorno (Wikipedia Commons)

Horkheimer and Adorno (Wikipedia Commons)

Location: Wellcome Collection Conference Centre, 183 Euston Road, London

This two-day conference, supported by the Pears Institute for the study of Antisemitism (Birkbeck, University of London), Birkbeck College, University of London, and the Centre for Psychoanalytic Studies of the University of Essex, will bring together historians, social theorists and psychoanalysts to explore the impact of the Second World War and totalitarianism on psychoanalysis, and of psychoanalysis on the understanding of the war and totalitarian systems.

Topics include:

  • the role of psychoanalysis in the war effort, military intelligence and in postwar reconstruction
  • the crisis of psychoanalysis in Central Europe
  • the work of Hannah Arendt and other theorists of totalitarianism
  • cultural anthropology, fascism and the Cold War
  • visions of the child and the creation of the War Nurseries
  • the psychoanalytic sociology of the Frankfurt School
  • war and the origins of group therapy
  • neo-Freudianism
  • the psychoanalytic theorization of anti-Semitism
  • mourning, memory and trans-generational trauma
  • Winnicott and the social democratic vision.

Presentations will be 20-minutes arranged in panels, followed by discussion, all in a plenary format. Confirmed speakers include Sally Alexander (Goldsmith’s College), David Armstrong (Tavistock Consultancy Service), David Bell (British Psychoanalytical Society)m Ronald Britton (British Psychoanalytical Society), José Brunner (Tel Aviv University), Matt Ffytche (Essex), John Forrester (Cambridge University), Stephen Frosh (Birkbeck College), Peter Mandler (Cambridge University), Knuth Müller (Free University, Berlin), Daniel Pick (Birkbeck and BPAS), Michael Roper (Essex), Michael Rustin (Tavistock/UEL), Michal Shapira (New York University), Lyndsey Stonebridge (University of East Anglia) and Eli Zaretsky (New School for Social Research, New York).

New Issue: European Journal of Cultural Studies

In the latest issue of the European Journal of Cultural Studies, readers of h-madness find an interesting article on historical images of madness.

Bedlam in mind: Seeing and reading historical images of madness by Simon Cross (Nottingham Trent University, UK). The abstract reads:

This article explores the mythical Bedlam of popular imaginings. London’s Bethlem Hospital was for centuries a unique institution caring for the insane, and its alter ego ‘Bedlam’ influenced popular stereotypes of insanity. For example, while the type of vagrant beggar known as a ‘Tom of Bedlam’ was said to have disappeared from English society with the Restoration, the figure of Mad Tom retained a visual and vocal presence within popular musical culture from the 17th century up to the present era. Using the ballad ‘Mad Tom o’ Bedlam’ as a case study, the article illustrates how an early modern stereotype of madness has maintained continuity within a popular song tradition while undergoing cultural change.

Found thanks to the UC Davis Disability Studies Blog

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