Tag Archives: madness

New Issue: History of the Human Sciences

The December 2013 issue of History of the Human Sciences is now online. Included in this issue is an article on psychologist Raleigh M. Drake’s work on musical ability, discussion of cognitivism, and a special section on eros. Full titles, authors, and abstracts follow below.

“The extent of cognitivism,” by V. P. J. Arponen. The abstract reads,

In this article, cognitivism is understood as the view that the engine of human (individual and collective) action is the intentional, dispositional, or other mental capacities of the brain or the mind. Cognitivism has been criticized for considering the essence of human action to reside in its alleged source in mental processes at the expense of the social surroundings of the action, criticism that has often been inspired by Ludwig Wittgenstein’s later philosophy. This article explores the logical extent of the critique of cognitivism, arguing that by positing collectively shared knowledge of criteria as the engine of human action many such critiques themselves display latent cognitivism.

“There is no evidence of ‘latent cognitivism’ in Peter Hacker’s treatment of criteria,” by Michael A. Tissaw. No abstract provided.

“On the extent of cognitivism: A response to Michael Tissaw,” by V. P. J. Arponen. No abstract provided.

“Scent in science and culture,” by Beata Hoffmann. The abstract reads, Continue reading

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One More Summer Roadtrip: Wood County Lunatic House

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The Lunatic House sits beside the main Infirmary building

This is a special post co-authored by Jennifer Bazar, Elissa Rodkey, and Jacy Young and published simultaneously at both the Advances in the History of Psychology (AHP) and FieldNotes blogs.

Yes, we do listen to your suggestions! Earlier this summer, historian of psychology Ryan Tweney left us a comment in response to our post about our roadtrip to the Glore Psychiatric Museum in St Joseph, Missouri. Tweney said we might also enjoy visiting the “Lunatic House” in Bowling Green, Ohio – so we decided to make one last trip before fall was officially upon us.

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Front entrance to the Infirmary building

The Lunatic House in Bowling Green is actually a part of a collection of buildings that now constitute the Wood County Historical Center and Museum. The primary exhibits are located in the oldest and largest building on the property: the infirmary. The displays take you through the rooms, floors, and wings of the building – beginning first with the history of the County Home itself before growing outwards to include medical history, technological developments, and a history of Ohio.

The site is quite unique, as one of the last remaining county poorhouses in Ohio with a majority of the original structures still standing. The poorhouse system dates to the early nineteenth century in the Unites States. Individual counties provided residential institutions (often as part of farm land) to house those who were unemployed or otherwise did not have the financial means to support themselves. Much like other states, every county in Ohio opened its own poorhouse. By mid-century, the Ohio General Assembly ordered these facilities to take in a wider population including the infirm, the elderly, and the mentally ill – renaming the poorhouses “infirmaries.” They later took on the name “county home” in 1919. Continue reading

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New Issue: History of the Human Sciences

The April 2013 issue of the journal History of the Human Sciences is now online. Included in these issue are seven all new articles on topics that include the history of psychiatric ideas about self-harm, madness and the brain, and early British and American sociology. Full titles, authors, and abstracts follow below.

“Religion, polygenism and the early science of human origins,” by Terence D. Keel. The abstract reads,

American polygenism was a provocative scientific movement whose controversial claim that humankind did not share a common ancestor caused a firestorm among naturalists and the lay public beginning in the 1830s. This article gives specific attention to the largely overlooked religious ideas marshaled by American polygenists in their effort to construct race as a unit of analysis. I focus specifically on the thought of the American polygenist and renowned surgeon Dr Josiah Clark Nott (1804–73) of Mobile, Alabama. Scholars have claimed that in his effort to establish a properly modern scientific view of race Nott was one of the first American naturalists to publicly denounce the notion of common human descent (monogenesis) as proclaimed in the Bible. I argue that despite his rejection of monogenesis, Nott’s racial theory remained squarely within the tradition of Christian ideas about the natural world. American polygenism provides an example of how scientific and religious ideas worked together in the minds of American antebellum thinkers in the development of novel theories about race and human origins.

“Badness, madness and the brain – the late 19th-century controversy on immoral persons and their malfunctioning brains,” by Felix Schirmann. The abstract reads, Continue reading

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BBC Radio 4′s Mad Houses

BBC Radio 4 has just aired an episode on the history of mental illness. The episode, Mad Houses, explores three museums of madness in Europe in anticipation of the establishment of a museum of mental illness at Bedlam Hospital in the coming years.

As described on Radio 4′s website,

Ken Arnold explores how three European countries variously tell the history of mental illness. What do museums of madness tell us about who we were and who we are? Ken Arnold, Head of Public Programmes at the Wellcome Trust, visits three of Europe’s old ‘mad houses’ that are now museums in Aarhus in Denmark, Haarlem in the Netherlands and Ghent in Belgium. Two of these institutions still function as psychiatric hospitals. Each has unusual, beautiful and terrifying objects on show ranging from straight-jackets to lobotomy tools, and also collections of ‘outsider art’, but each is also strikingly successful at evoking for their visitors different (and sometimes wildly different) views of madness – strange, worrisome, extreme mental states.

Ranging from a pitch-dark solitary confinement cell to the brightly coloured papier-mache dolls made by long term inmates, from the era of shackles to the era of the talking cure, the history of Europe’s reaction to the madness in its midst as shown by these museums is long and still shifting. Britain doesn’t yet have a national museum of mental illness or psychiatry. Bedlam Hospital in London will take on this role in years to come. What might we learn from the mad houses of Europe?

The episode can be heard online here.

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More BPS Hist. of Psychological Disciplines Talks!

The British Psychological Society‘s (BPS) History of the Psychological Disciplines Seminar Series (discussed previously on AHP here) has two events scheduled for later this month. Organized by the BPS’s History of Psychology Centre and University College London’s (UCL) Centre for the History of the Psychological Disciplines, the events take place at 6pm at UCL. If you’re in the London area, be sure to stop by (no registration necessary). Full details follow below and can also be found on the seminar series’s website.

The British Psychological Society History of Psychology Centre in conjunction with UCL’s Centre for the History of the Psychological Disciplines

Location: UCL Department of Clinical, Educational and Health Psychology, Room 544,* 5th Floor, 1-19 Torrington Place, London WC1E 7HJ (map)

Time: 6pm-7.30pm

Wednesday 14 November
Professor Ramón del Castillo (Universdad Nacional de Educación a Distancia, Madrid), “Madness and rules: A case for Wittgenstein.” The abstract reads,

This talk explores Wittgenstein’s philosophy of psychology through exploring his  work on comedy, tragedy, jokes and humour, showing the connection between his  understanding of these and his conception of philosophy. Wittgenstein one said that a serious and philosophical work could be written that would consist entirely of jokes. His philosophical work was serious and included some jokes. However he was not a good joker, and his perception of social life was as limited as his sense of humour. It argues that Wittgenstein’s later ideas on rules and language-games are better understood if we think in terms of different types of jokes. It explains the diverse types of what Wittgenstein called ‘gramatical jokes’ (from the logical ones to the performative ones), and also indicates the relevance of certain types of humour in illuminating the background of linguistic games (using examples from sports and social acts).

Wednesday 21 November
Dr Maria Teresa Brancaccio (left) (Maastricht University), “War trauma in France and Italy (1920s-1980s).” The abstract reads,

In the twentieth century, medical-psychological theories on the health effects of war- related suffering as well as their social recognition presented large variations in different European countries. Focusing on the medical debates and on the diagnostic categories adopted in France and in Italy in the aftermaths of the two World Wars, the paper will investigate how changes in medical, social and political thinking influenced the understanding of war trauma in the two countries.

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BBC Radio4: Writing Madness

Currently streaming on BBC Radio4 for the next 6 days is a program exploring the influence of psychiatric ideas on literature and vice versa. In Writing Madness, literary works by Virginia Woolf (above), F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Charles Dickens are discussed in terms of the development of psychoanalysis and the rise of psychotherapy. As described on the program’s website,

Vivienne Parry takes her diagnoses of literary heroines into the 20th century and the age of Freud, the Great War and the explosion of the ‘sciences of the mind’ focusing on three great works of fiction, mixing contemporary psychiatric and literary insight.

How did modern literary and psychiatric ideas meet and how did each shape the other? Do these heroines show literature of the period to be a critical – and even emancipating – force…or is fiction really medicine’s stooge? Novels on the couch include Scott Fitzgerald’s Tender is the Night and Virginia Woolf’s Mrs Dalloway….interestingly with both novels there’s a tendency to base the heroines on real people – Nicole Diver is based on the case history of Fitzgerald’s own wife Zelda, whereas Woolf’s Mrs.Dalloway comes very close in literary terms to what Freud calls ‘self-analysis’ – one difference is that Woolf sometimes believed ‘madness’ was necessary to be creative, while Scott Fitzgerald depicted it as disastrous drain on creativity (ie. his). And both novels have the dynamic and lucrative new industry of psychotherapy in their sights. Vivienne compares fiction in the age of Freud to literary ideas of mental health in the Victorian age and in Dickens specifically, using Great Expectations’ Miss Havisham as a case study.

Contributors include psychotherapist and essayist Adam Philips, leading psychiatrist Simon Wessely, cultural historian Lisa Appignanesi and Chris Thompson, psychiatrist and medical director of The Priory

Listen to the full 30-minute program online here.

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History of Female Madness in the APA Monitor

The Time Capsule section of December issue of the APA Monitor on Psychology features a piece on the history of female madness, which highlights patient voices in nineteenth century debates over sexual surgeries. The article, authored by Laura Ball and Jennifer Bazar (far right and far left), is based in part on a presentation they were part of at APA’s 2009 Annual Convention: “Lusty ladies or Victorian victims: Perspectives on women, madness and sexuality” (see AHP’s previous post on the presentation here). In the article, Ball and Bazar contend that,

To gain insight into why patients selected one treatment over another, a number of factors need to be considered, including the relationship between patients and their physicians during the 19th century; the status of medicine and related professions; the role of politics, the law and shifting societal norms; the influence of friends or family; and the intersections of gender, race, class and other social categories on patient decision-making. This process was very individual and certainly varied depending on which combination of factors influenced the particular person most.

You can find the full article here. The History of Science Society Newsletter article on “Lusty ladies or Victorian victims” can be found here.

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Syllabi on Madness, Mental Illness, and Psychiatry

The blog H-madness has been posting the syllabi for courses related to madness, mental illness, and psychiatry for the past week or so now. As of today there are 12 syllabi available on their site from professors around the globe. The postings include not only a copy of the syllabus from each course but also some background information about the research interests of the particular professor and how the course came to be developed.

The courses range in focus from survey courses on the history of madness to the history of patients/consumers/survivors to the history of asylums to courses that combine the histories of psychiatry and psychology.

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New History of Madness Blog

Greg EghigianI just received the following announcement about the launching of a new blog, H-Madness, which covers issues in the “history of madness, mental illness and their treatment (including the history of psychiatry, psychotherapy, and clinical psychology and social work).” It is being collectively written by four prominent historians: Greg Eghigian (Penn State University), Eric J. Engstrom (Humboldt Universität), Andreas Killen (City College of New York), and  Benoît Majerus (Université libre de Bruxelles).

I’ll simply copy the announcement below for anyone who would like to check it out.

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We are happy to announce the launch of a new blog dedicated to the history of madness and mental health: H-Madness (http://historypsychiatry.wordpress.com)

H-Madness is intended as a resource for scholars interested in the history of madness, mental illness and their treatment (including the history of psychiatry, psychotherapy, and clinical psychology and social work). The chief goal is to provide a forum for researchers in the humanities and social sciences to exchange ideas and information about the historical study of mental health and mental illness. The blog, therefore, primarily serves university and college faculty, students, and independent researchers. Continue reading

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New Issue: History of Psychiatry

The September 2009 issue of History of Psychiatry has been released online. Included in the issue are six all new articles, as well as a recurrent feature in the journal, “Classic Text,” in which a selection from a classic text in the history of psychiatry is reprinted.

For the September issue, the featured “Classic Text” is a translation of prominent nineteenth century alienist-philosopher Prosper Despine’s 1875 book, De la Folie au point de vue philosophique ou plus spécialement psychologique étudiée chez le malade et chez l’homme en santé.

Among the topics covered in this issue of the journal are Kant’s views on mental disorder, classical Greek conceptions of madness, Foucault’s contribution to the Anti-Oedipus movement, Viktor von Weizsäcker’s medical anthropology, and the work of psychologist James Mark Baldwin as precursor to contemporary Theory of Mind.

Listed below are the contents of this issue of the journal, as well as the abstracts for each article. Continue reading

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