Tag Archives: museums

New History of Psychiatry: Possession in the DSM, Jung’s Seances, & More

The September 2015 issue of History of Psychiatry is now online.  Among the articles in this issue are ones on Carl Jung (above) and his investigation of his cousin’s mediumship, the epistemological problems of incorporating possession into the DSM, a case study of a museum of mental health care history, and much more. Full titles, authors, and abstract follow below.

“The epistemological significance of possession entering the DSM,” by Craig Stephenson. The abstract reads,

The discourse of the American Psychiatric Association’s DSM reflects the inherently dialogic or contradictory nature of its stated mandate to demonstrate both ‘nosological completeness’ and cultural ‘inclusiveness’. Psychiatry employs the dialogic discourse of the DSM in a one-sided, positivistic manner by identifying what it considers universal mental disease entities stripped of their cultural context. In 1992 the editors of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders proposed to introduce possession into their revisions. A survey of the discussions about introducing ‘possession’ as a dissociative disorder to be listed in the DSM-IV indicates a missed epistemological break. Subsequently the editors of the DSM-5 politically ‘recuperated’ possession into its official discourse, without acknowledging the anarchic challenges that possession presents to psychiatry as a cultural practice.

“‘A vehicle of symbols and nothing more’. George Romanes, theory of mind, information, and Samuel Butler,” by Donald R Forsdyke. The abstract reads, Continue reading New History of Psychiatry: Possession in the DSM, Jung’s Seances, & More

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Special Issue: Museums as Sites for Historical Understanding, Peace, and Social Justice: Views from Canada

The November 2013 offering of Peace and Conflict: Journal of Peace Psychology is a special issue dedicated to “Museums as Sites for Historical Understanding, Peace, and Social Justice: Views from Canada.” Guest edited by Carleton University public historian David Dean, the issue is particularly timely given the soon to be opening Canadian Museum of Human Rights (CMHR), the first national museum in Canada to be located outside of the nation’s capitol (see above). Articles in this issue explore the use of digital games in museum settings, the controversies surrounding the selection of exhibits for the CMHR, the history of eugenics in Canada, the history of the Royal Commission on the Status of Women in Canada, and much more. Full titles, authors, and abstracts follow below.

“Introduction to special issue on museums, and editor’s thanks and farewell,” by Susan Opotow. The abstract reads,

This introduction to the special issue of Peace and Conflict: Journal of Peace Psychology, the last for the editor, has two parts. In the first, the editor introduces an exciting special issue on Canadian museums that speaks to peace and conflict in valuable, interdisciplinary ways. In the second, the editor thanks the many people who have made the journal such a vital forum for understanding peace and conflict.

“Museums as sites for historical understanding, peace, and social justice: Views from Canada,” by David Dean. The abstract reads,

This article examines a range of issues surrounding the proposition that museums are excellent sites in which historical understanding can be deepened, thus raising the possibility of peaceful resolution to conflict and the achievement of social justice. The article begins by arguing that Canada is a case study worthy of detailed exploration. A settler state with a significant aboriginal presence, Canada is unique in its official commitment to multicultural and bilingual identities, and its traditional identity as a country extolling human rights, social justice, environmental responsibility, and peacekeeping. These markers of nationhood have become increasingly problematic in light of the Conservative government’s insistence upon unifying narratives of nationhood privileging military glories, ties to the British monarchy, and constitutional achievements. This reinvention of the nation has been visible in many places, but especially in commemorative practices, sites of memory, and museums. Recent and ongoing changes to the museum landscape have ignited much discussion about the nature and role of national museums. The author offers a summary of recent scholarly work by public historians on museums in contemporary society and considers museums that explicitly assert an agenda of social responsibility, before introducing the reader to three major national museums in Canada: the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, the Canadian Museum of Civilization (soon to be the Canadian History Museum), and the Canadian War Museum. Finally, the article introduces readers to the articles that follow in this special issue.

“Commemorating human rights: Exploring origins, episodes, and historicity in constructing a human rights timeline,” by Bonny Ibhawoh. The abstract reads, Continue reading Special Issue: Museums as Sites for Historical Understanding, Peace, and Social Justice: Views from Canada

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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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