Posts Tagged ‘ historiography ’

New issue: L’Évolution Psychiatrique


The new issue of L’Évolution Psychiatrique includes multiple articles related to the history of psychiatry that could be of interest to H-Madness readers:

Jean Garrabé, La place de l’histoire dans l’enseignement de la clinique mentale

Jacques Hochmann, Réflexions sur les rapports entre l’histoire et la psychiatri

Thierry Haustgen, Les psychiatres historiens

Clément Fromentin, Pourquoi faire l’histoire de la psychiatrie ? Le cas de l’Évolution psychiatrique (1925–1985)

Hervé Guillemain, Le retour aux sources. Points de vue sur l’histoire sociale de la psychiatrie et de la maladie mentale

Thomas Lepoutre, La psychiatrie néo-kraepelinienne à l’épreuve de l’histoire. Nouvelles considérations sur la nosologie kraepelinienne

Loig Le Sonn, Le test d’intelligence Binet-Simon dans les asiles (1898–1908). L’invention d’une nouvelle pratique d’interrogatoire

Laurence Guignard, Crime et Psychiatrie. Antoine Léger, le lycanthrope : une étape dans la généalogie des perversions sexuelles (1824–1903)

Emmanuel Delille, Crise d’originalité juvénile ou psychose débutante ? Les représentations de l’adolescence « à risque » après-guerre en France et en Allemagne

Benoît Majerus, Fragilités guerrières – Les fous parisiens dans la Grande Guerre

Pierre Chenivesse and Manuella De Luca, Le théâtre du Grand Guignol et l’aliénisme




New Issue – History of Psychology


The latest issue of History of Psychology is online and contains at least five articles that may interest the readers of h-madness.

“Individual perception and cultural development: Foucault’s 1954 approach to mental illness and its history,” by Line Joranger.

In his 1954 book Mental Illness and Personality Foucault combines the subjective experience of the mentally ill person with a sociocultural historical approach to mental illness and suggests that there exists a reciprocal connection between individual perception and sociocultural development. This article examines the ramifications of these connections in Foucault’s 1954 works and the connection with his later historical works. The article also examines the similarities between Foucault’s 1954 thoughts and contemporary intellectual thought, such as those outlined in Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s existential phenomenology and in Gaston Bachelard and Georges Canguilhem’s historical epistemology. In sum, my study shows that Foucault’s historical analysis began long before his 1961 dissertation History of Madness. It also shows that, more than announcing the “death” of the subject, Foucault’s historical analysis may have contributed to saving it.

“Cyclical swings: The bête noire of psychiatry,” by Hannah S. Decker.

Progress in psychiatry in the West has been retarded by the proclivity of the discipline to swing violently between 2 approaches to viewing mental illness; that is, emphasizing—to the exclusion of the other—the material–somatic vs the psychical–experiential avenues to knowledge. Each time a shift occurs, the leaders of the new dominant approach emotionally denounce the principles and ideas that came before. We can examine this phenomenon historically by looking at Romantic psychiatry, mid-/late-19th century empirical psychiatry, psychoanalysis, and modern biological psychiatry. Looking at the 2 approaches in treatment today, the gold standard of patient care involves combining empirical/psychological care in 1 person (the psychiatrist) or shared between 2 clinicians working intimately with each other (psychiatrist with psychologist or social worker.) Yet as regards psychiatrists, they are discouraged from paying full attention to the psychological side by the way managed care and third-party payment have combined to remunerate them. Finally, how do we account for the intense swings and denunciations in psychiatry? The author speculates on possible explanations but leaves the question open for her readers.

“Entrenched reductionisms: The bête noire of psychiatry,” by Allen Frances.

Like Hannah Decker, I too deplore the destructive battle of psychosocial and biological reductionisms that has bedeviled psychiatry. When I started my psychiatric training almost 50 years ago, the prevailing model for understanding mental disorders was broadly bio/psycho/social in the grand tradition of Pinel and Freud, brought to and adapted in America by Adolph Meyer. When psychiatry is practiced well, it integrates insights from all the different ways of understanding human nature. Unfortunately, the mental health field has since degenerated into a civil war between the biomedical and psychosocial models with little room for compromise or finding middle ground. The inflexible biological reductionists assume that genes are destiny and that there is a pill for every problem: they take a “mindless” position. The inflexible psychosocial reductionists assume that mental health problems all arise from unpleasant experience: They take a “brainless” position. I have spent a good deal of frustrating time trying to open the minds of extremists at both ends, though rarely making much headway. In my view, however, and where I differ from Decker, the reductionisms do not sort so neatly into alternating historical periods.

“Comments on “cyclical swings” by Professor Hannah Decker: The underappreciated “solid center” of psychiatry,” by Ronald W. Pies.

The history of psychiatry is characterized by some deep ideological and conceptual divisions, as adumbrated in Professor Hannah Decker’s essay. However, the schism between “biological” and “psychosocial” models of mental illness and its treatment represents extreme positions among some psychiatrists—not the model propounded by academic psychiatry or its affiliated professional organizations. Indeed, the “biopsycho-social model” (BPSM) developed by Dr. George L. Engel has been, and remains, the foundational model for academic psychiatry, notwithstanding malign market forces that have undermined the BPSM’s use in clinical practice. The BPSM is integrally related to “centralizing” and integrative trends in American psychiatry that may be traced to Franz Alexander, Karl Jaspers, and Engel himself, among others. This “Alexandrian-Jaspersian-Engelian” tradition is explored in relation to Professor Decker’s “cyclical swing” model of psychiatry’s history.

“Professor Decker replies,” by Hannah S. Decker.

Replies to comments by Allen Frances (see record 2016-05673-005) and Ronald W. Pies (see record 2016-05673-006) on the article by Hannah Decker (see record 2016-05673-004). Frances’ sophisticated fine-tuning of Decker’s dichotomies is most welcome. Nevertheless, the impact of reductionism on an era does persist. As for Pies, Decker wishes she could share Pies’ hopes for the future of an integrated psychiatry, but we are in a biological period that shows little evidence of becoming inclusive of the psychological and the social.

Call for Papers: “Does the History of Psychology Have a Future?”

The American Lightner Witmer, credited with coining the term "clinical psychology." From:

The American Lightner Witmer, credited with being one of the early developers of clinical psychology. From:




History of Psychology invites submissions for a special issue on the future of the history of psychology.

20 years ago, Kurt Danziger published an article with the provocative title, “Does the history of psychology have a future?” and it led to a great deal of comment and debate. The institutional position of the field does not seem to have improved in the meantime. The graduate program in history and theory of psychology at the University of New Hampshire was the only one of its kind in the USA and it was ended in 2009. Although the history of psychology is still widely taught at the undergraduate level, concerns have been expressed over a possible decline in the number of psychology departments offering the course. Professional historians have become increasingly prominent in the field. Could the subject eventually be handed over to them, as has already happened with the history of the physical sciences? Should this development be welcomed? There are many issues to be addressed.

We welcome contributions on any aspect of the subject. In order to get as many different perspectives as possible, we welcome contributions from authors in different disciplines (especially psychologists and historians), authors at different stages in their career (from graduate students to emeriti) and authors from different parts of the world. We are well aware that the current situation in the USA may not be representative of the situation elsewhere.

The submission deadline is July 15, 2015.

The main text of each manuscript, exclusive of figures, tables, references, or appendixes, should not exceed 35 double-spaced pages (approximately 7,500 words). Initial inquiries regarding the special issue may be sent to the regular editor, Nadine Weidman ( or the guest editor, Adrian Brock (

Papers should be submitted through the regular submission portal for History of Psychology ( with a cover letter indicating that the paper is to be considered for the special issue.

The History of Madness and Psychiatry at the History of Science Society Conference (3-6 November 2011)

The Annual History of Science Society (HSS) Conference meets in Cleveland, Ohio 3-6 November 2011.  This year, the meeting is co-located with the annual conferences of two other important science and technology studies organizations:  The Society for Social Studies of Science (4S) and the Society for the History of Technology (SHOT).

For those historians of psychiatry and mental health attending, there will be a number of panels that may be of interest.  The editors of H-Madness, for instance, will be discussing new perspectives on the history of madness and mental illness in the modern world.  Other panels will discuss topics covering, among others, emotional disorders in East Asia, the classification of people, globalization, nightmares, and sexuality.

Also noteworthy, co-editor of H-Madness Elizabeth Lunbeck will be giving the annual distinguished lecture before the Forum for the History of Human Sciences on Saturday.  Her talk is entitled “Psychoanalytic Perspectives on Power: Charisma, Fascination, and Narcissism.”

Finally, the editors of H-Madness will be meeting to discuss ways of enhancing and refining the website, in order to make it a more useful and effective resource for scholars and the general public.  We would therefore also welcome hearing from any of you who will be in attendance at the conference.  If you would like to meet with one or more of the editors during the conference, we invite you to contact either Benoit Majerus (email: or Greg Eghigian (email:

Panels Being Held at the Upcoming HSS Conference in Cleveland, Ohio, 3-6 November 2011

New Perspectives in the Modern History of Madness and Psychiatry

Chair and Commentator: Greg Eghigian, Pennsylvania State University

1. The Material Culture of Asylums, Benoit Majerus, Université du Luxembourg

2. Whither Narcissism? Types and Traits in the History of the Personality Disorders, Elizabeth Lunbeck, Vanderbilt University

3. New Perspectives in the History of Forensic Psychiatry, Eric Engstrom, Humboldt-


4. Psychiatry and the Visual Turn, Andreas Killen, CUNY

Locating Emotions in the Body: Transnational Perspectives on the Treatment of Emotional Disorders in East Asian Medicine (Session sponsored by FHSAsia, the Forum for the History of Science in Asia)

Chair: Volker Scheid, University of Westminster

1. Cosmological, Fragile, and Disembodied: Towards an Historical Epistemology of

Chinese Medicine in Late Imperial and Contemporary China, Volker Scheid, University of Westminster

2. All Diseases Arise from the Liver: An Historical Epistemology of the Treatment of

Emotional Disorders in Kampo Medicine, Keiko Daidoji, University of Westminster

3. The Excitations and Suppressions of the Times: Locating Emotional Disorders in the Liver in Modern Chinese Medicine, *Eric Karchmer, University of Westminster

4. Fire-Illness: Globalized Psychiatry, Nationalized History, and the Korean Effort to Make the Local Visible, Soyoung Suh, Dartmouth College

Classifying People

Chair: Robin Wolfe Scheffler, Yale University

1. Japanese Internment and the Science of Governing Dependent Peoples: Social Context and Scientific Truth, Karin Rosemblatt, University of Maryland and Leandro Benmergui, University of Maryland

2. The Monkey in the Panopticon: David Ferrier’s Utilitarian Neurology, Cathy Gere, University of California, San Diego

3. The Psychologist and the Bombardier: The Army Air Force Classification Program in WWII, Marcia Holmes, University of Chicago

4. The First German Genetics Institute 1914- 1930: A ‘Damenstift’ (Foundation for Noble Nuns), Ida Stamhuis, Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam

Treatment, Sex, and Discovery

Chair: Luis Campos, Drew University

1. Protection Against Nightmares: Talismans and Ritual Exorcist Techniques in Late

Ming Encyclopedia Forest of Dreams, Brigid E. Vance, Princeton University

2. ‘Can There Be a Science of Bibliotherapy?’: Reading as Treatment in United States Hospitals, 1935-1940, Monique Dufour, Virginia Polytechnic Institute

3. The Science and Transformation of Sex in Republican China, Howard H. Chiang, Princeton University

4. The Parallel Lives of Two Viruses: Their Discovery and Reception, Neeraja Sankaran, Yonsei University, South Korea

Hugh Freeman, 1930-2011

HUGH FREEMAN, 1930-2011

Obituaries have just been published of the psychiatrist and historian, Hugh Freeman, who died on the 4th May at the age of 81.

Freeman will probably be best known to list members as one of the founders of the journal, History of Psychiatry and the editor of a number of essay collections on the history of psychiatry in Britain.  These include the two volume, 150 Years of British Psychiatry (London: Gaskell/Athlone, 1991 and 1996) edited with German Berrios;  A Century of Psychiatry, (London: Mosby-Wolfe, 1999),  and Psychiatric Cultures Compared: Psychiatry and Mental Health Care in the Twentieth Century (Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2005) edited with Marijke Gijswijt-Hofstra, Harry Oosterhuis and Joost Vijselaar.

After retiring as consultant psychiatrist to Salford Health Authority, Freeman was engaged in large scale history of psychiatric policy in post war Britain under the supervision of John Pickstone.  Parts of this work have been published including:

‘Mental Health: Policy and Practice in the NHS’, Journal of Mental Health 7.3 (1998): 225-39.

‘Mental Health Services in an English County Borough before 1974’, Medical History 28 (1984): 111-28.

The Times obituary was published on the 16 June but is only available to subscribers.  The Guardian obituary is open access here.

Dr Rhodri Hayward

School of History

Queen Mary, University of London


The History of Health Insurance and Mental Illness

The historical branches of German social insurance

The successful passage of health insurance reform legislation in the United States moves me to wonder about the extent to which scholars have looked into the role of health insurance in mental health care.  About ten years ago, a number of us historians examined the impact of mental illness on social insurance in Germany around the years 1880-1930.  Perhaps not surprisingly, the rise of shellshock in World War I and the killing of 200,000 psychiatric patients by the Nazis under their T-4 program provided the backdrop and inspiration for much of this research.   In my own study of disability within early German social insurance (Making Security Social), I found that providing health care benefits to those suffering from work-related nervous illnesses prompted a vocal, organized, and persistent backlash from those who contended that the system was only rewarding malingering.  The fact that some claimants contended that their nervous symptoms were caused, not by a factory accident, but rather by the torturous process of applying for a pension itself only seemed to confirm the view that social insurance and mental illness did not mix well.   In fact by the 1920s and 1930s, “pension neuroses” – as they were called – were publicly pilloried by conservatives, liberals, and the Nazis as emblematic of a social insurance system that bred whining and undermined productivity and masculinity.  Interestingly enough, however, the Nazis found it politically impossible to dismantle the social insurance system, despite the fact that many reformers in their party wished to do so.  So, there is certainly historical evidence indicating that, indeed, insurance systems do create new constituencies that provide powerful support for the system’s continuation.

So, I have some questions for others.  Are there good historical studies out there (articles or monographs) which examine insurance’s impact on mental illness and mental health and vice versa?  What role has health insurance played in reinforcing or undermining professional, institutional, and social trends and practices?  For instance, to what extent was social insurance responsible for the post-World War II boom in psychotherapeutic professionals and services?  What role have pharmaceutical companies played in health insurance systems affecting mental health across the globe?  What effects did health insurance schemes have on the process widely known as deinstitutionalization?  Please post any responses on the blog.


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