CBC reports on an event held earlier in the month in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. The Community Medicine Gathering was hosted by the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations to bring educators, health workers, and adolescents together in response to a wave of youth suicides in First Nations communities. The keynote address was given by Darien Thira, whose psychological practice focuses on mental health and development consultancy for Indigenous populations in Canada.
Dr. Thira’s talk, which challenged how such suicides have been conceptualized in Canadian disciplinary psychology and public perception, was received enthusiastically by attendees and Chief of the Prince Albert Grand Council, Ron Michel. Thira’s assertions included that in this context, suicide is not a mental health issue, but rather a “natural but terrible response to colonization.” Further, that the appropriate response by our social systems to such situations is not to impose external expertise, which is the kind of logic that led to the establishment of ‘care’ programs like the residential schools. Instead, he advocates for systemic support and respect for the resources already present in communities.
There are a number of articles in the just released May issue of Social History of Medicine that may be of interest to AHP’s readers. In a piece on music and hypnosis, James Kennaway explores the long and complicated relationship between music and selfhood from the time of Mesmeric uses of the glass harmonica (left) to more recent concerns about brainwashing. Additionally, two articles in the issue explore aspects of asylum history. The first discusses the role of the Irish Famine of the 1840s in Irish asylums, while the second explores efforts to control suicide in English public asylums in the latter half of the nineteenth century. A further piece delves into views on alcoholism in mid-to-late twentieth century Yugoslavia. Full titles, authors, and abstract follow below.
“Musical Hypnosis: Sound and Selfhood from Mesmerism to Brainwashing,” by James Kennaway. The abstract reads,
Music has long been associated with trance states, but very little has been written about the modern western discussion of music as a form of hypnosis or ‘brainwashing’. However, from Mesmer’s use of the glass armonica to the supposed dangers of subliminal messages in heavy metal, the idea that music can overwhelm listeners’ self-control has been a recurrent theme. In particular, the concepts of automatic response and conditioned reflex have been the basis for a model of physiological psychology in which the self has been depicted as vulnerable to external stimuli such as music. This article will examine the discourse of hypnotic music from animal magnetism and the experimental hypnosis of the nineteenth century to the brainwashing panics since the Cold War, looking at the relationship between concerns about hypnotic music and the politics of the self and sexuality.