Tag Archives: phantom limbs

Spontaneous Generations: Phantom Limb Pain in Late 19th c. America

The most recent issue of Spontaneous Generations includes several items that may be of interest to AHP readers. In addition to two reviews of recent volumes on the history of the human sciences, the issue includes a piece by Daniel Goldberg on ideas about phantom pain in the late-nineteenth century. Full details follow below.

““What They Think of the Causes of So Much Suffering”: S. Weir Mitchell, John Kearsley Mitchell, and Ideas about Phantom Limb Pain in Late 19th c. America,” by Daniel Goldberg. The abstract reads,

This paper analyzes S. Weir Mitchell and his son John Kearsley Mitchell’s views on phantom limb pain in late 19th c. America. Drawing on a variety of primary sources including journal articles, letters, and treatises, the paper pioneers analysis of a cache of surveys sent out by the Mitchells that contain amputee Civil War veterans’ own narratives of phantom limb pain. The paper utilizes an approach drawn from the history of ideas, documenting how changing models of medicine and objectivity help explain the Mitchells’s attitudes, practices, and beliefs regarding the enigma of phantom limb pain as experienced by their patients. The paper also assesses concerns over malingering, pain, authenticity, and deception through these intellectual frameworks of somaticism and mechanical objectivity. The paper concludes that much of relevance to the ways in which the Mitchells and other late 19th c. neurologists regarded and treated their patients’ pain is explicable in terms of the larger intellectual frameworks that structured these healers’ ideas about lesionless pain.

Reviews:

Nikolas Rose and Joelle Abi-Rached, Neuro: The New Brain Sciences and the Management of the Mind. Reviewed by Riiko Bedford.

Cold War Social Science. Reviewed by Mike Thicke.

Share on Facebook

Medical History Special Issue on Material History of the Mind Sciences

A special issue of Medical History devoted to “Soul Catchers – A Material History of the Mind Sciences” is now available. The issue includes a number of articles – on drawing as an instrument, soul photography, and more – that may interest AHP readers.

Editorial: “Soul Catchers: The Material Culture of the Mind Sciences,” by Katja Guenther and Volker Hess.

“Brain Ways: Meynert, Bachelard and the Material Imagination of the Inner Life,” by Scott Phelps. The abstract reads,

The Austrian psychiatrist Theodor Meynert’s anatomical theories of the brain and nerves are laden with metaphorical imagery, ranging from the colonies of empire to the tentacles of jellyfish. This paper analyses among Meynert’s earliest works a different set of less obvious metaphors, namely, the fibres, threads, branches and paths used to elaborate the brain’s interior. I argue that these metaphors of material, or what the philosopher Gaston Bachelard called ‘material images’, helped Meynert not only to imaginatively extend the tracts of fibrous tissue inside the brain but to insinuate their function as pathways co-extensive with the mind. Above all, with reference to Bachelard’s study of the material imagination, I argue that Meynert helped entrench the historical intuition that the mind, whatever it was, consisted of some interiority – one which came to be increasingly articulated through the fibrous confines of the brain.

“Drawing as Instrument, Drawings as Evidence: Capturing Mental Processes with Pencil and Paper,” by Alicia Puglionesi. The abstract reads, Continue reading Medical History Special Issue on Material History of the Mind Sciences

Share on Facebook

New JHN: Transnational Psychosurgery, Phantom Limbs, & More

A new issue of Journal of the History of the Neuroscience is now online. Included in this issue are articles on psychosurgery as a transnational movement, artists and phantom limbs, and sex and gender in organology. Full titles, authors, and abstracts follow below.

“A Transnational Perspective on Psychosurgery: Beyond Portugal and the United States,” by Brianne M. Collinsa & Henderikus J. Stam. The abstract reads,

The history of psychosurgery is most often recounted as a narrative wherein Portuguese and American physicians play the leading role. It is a traditional narrative in which the United States and, at times, Portugal are central in the development and spread of psychosurgery. Here we largely abandon the archetypal narrative and provide one of the first transnational accounts of psychosurgery to demonstrate the existence of a global psychosurgical community in which more than 40 countries participated, bolstered, critiqued, modified and heralded the treatment. From its inception in 1935 until its decline in the mid-1960s, psychosurgery was performed on almost all continents. Rather than being a phenomenon isolated to the United States and Portugal, it became a truly transnational movement.

“Phantoms in Artists: The Lost Limbs of Blaise Cendrars, Arthur Rimbaud, and Paul Wittgenstein,” by Laurent Tatu, Julien Bogousslavsky & François Boller. The abstract reads, Continue reading New JHN: Transnational Psychosurgery, Phantom Limbs, & More

Share on Facebook