Posts Tagged ‘ religion ’

New issue – History of Psychiatry

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The second issue of 2017 of History of Psychiatry is now available and could be of interest to H-madness readers. The issue includes the following articles:

Philippe Huneman, From a religious view of madness to religious mania: the Encyclopédie, Pinel, Esquirol.

This paper focuses on the shift from a concept of insanity understood in terms of religion to another (as entertained by early psychiatry, especially in France) according to which it is believed that forms of madness tinged by religion are difficult to cure. The traditional religious view of madness, as exemplified by Pascal (inter alia), is first illustrated by entries from the Encyclopédie. Then the shift towards a medical view of madness, inspired by Vitalistic physiology, is mapped by entries taken from the same publication. Firmed up by Pinel, this shift caused the abandonment of the religious view. Esquirol considered religious mania to be a vestige from the past, but he also believed that mental conditions carrying a religious component were difficult to cure.

The debate on the causes and the nature of pellagra in Italy during the nineteenth century resembles and evokes the similar debate on General Paralysis of the Insane (GPI) that was growing at the same time in the United Kingdom. Pellagra and GPI had a massive and virulent impact on the populations of Italy and the UK, respectively, and contributed to a great extent to the increase and overcrowding of the asylum populations in these countries. This article compares the two illnesses by examining the features of their nosographic positioning, aetiology and pathogenesis. It also documents how doctors arrived at the diagnoses of the two diseases and how this affected their treatment.

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Religion & Anti-psychiatry in Imperial Germany

111146d0H-Madness co-editor Eric Engstrom will be speaking on “Pastoral Psychiatry and Irrenseelsorge: Religious Aspects of the Anti-psychiatry Debates in Imperial Germany.” at the BPS History of Psychological Disciplines Seminar Series on Monday, 20 April. The abstract reads:

Historians of psychiatry have often enough interpreted the relationship between psychiatry and religion within narrative frameworks that focus on diagnoses and treatments (religious madness, exorcism) or that emphasise broader historical processes such as secularisation, medicalisation, and biologisation. While there is considerable merit to such frameworks, recent critiques of the secularisation paradigm have suggested a larger place for religion and spirituality in late 19th-century urban culture than is often assumed. The work of the American historian Edward R. Dickinson in particular has reminded us of the enduring influence and inertia of conservative Christian organisations in shaping moral discourse and social policy in the Kaiserreich.

My paper examines more closely the interdisciplinary topography between psychiatric and religious professionals, mapping out some of the common terrain on which they cooperated and/or disagreed with one another. In particular, I will examine debates about the place of religion in 19th-century asylum culture and the role of the so-called ‘Irrenseelsorger’. Against this backdrop and drawing especially on examples from Berlin, I will then explore efforts by religious organisations to expand their role in psychiatric after-/extramural care and show how those efforts contributed decisively to a nascent ‘anti-psychiatry’ movement in the years leading up to World War One.

For more information have a look at the blog Advances in the History of Psychology.

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