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.

“Kant on mental disorder. Part 1: An overview,” by Patrick Frierson of Whitman College. The abstract reads,

This paper sets out Kant’s anthropological account of mental disorder. I begin with a discussion of the nature of Kant’s ‘pragmatic anthropology’ and the implications of the fact that his discussion of mental disorder takes place in that context. I then set out Kant’s taxonomy of the mind and discuss the various disorders affecting the cognitive faculty and the faculties of feeling and desire. I end with a brief discussion of Kant’s views on the causes, preventions, and treatments of mental disorder.

“Kant on mental disorder. Part 2: Philosophical implications of Kant’s account,” by Patrick Frierson of Whitman College. The abstract reads,

This paper considers various philosophical problems arising from Kant’s account of mental disorder. Starting with the reasons why Kant considered his theory of mental disorder important, I then turn to the implications of this theory of Kant’s metaphysics, epistemology and ethics. Given Kant’s account of insanity as ‘a totally different standpoint … from which one sees all objects differently’ (7: 216), the Critique of Pure Reason should be read as offering a more social epistemology than typically recognized. Also, mental disorders that seem to undermine human freedom and rationality raise problems for Kant’s moral philosophy that his pragmatic anthropology helps to mitigate. Finally, I propose some implications of Kant’s account of mental disorder for contemporary work on mental illness.

“The vocabulary of madness from Homer to Hippocrates. Part 1: The verbal group of ??i?o???,” by Hélène Perdicoyianni-Paléologou of Hellenic College-Holy Cross. The abstract reads,

In Part 1 of this two-part paper, I examine the evolution of the concept of madness expressed by the various forms — verbal and nominal, simple and compound — of the verbal group of ??i?o??? in the archaic and classical periods. I point out how the divine madness is contrasted to pathological madness considered as a psychic and mental disease and foreseeable by doctors as well as curable by medications. This new procedure highlights rational knowledge of the Greeks about the cause and the medical care of madness.

“Foucault and the ‘Anti-Oedipus movement’: psychoanalysis as disciplinary power,” by Mauro Basaure of the Instituto de Humanidades, at the Universidad Diego Portales, in Santiago de Chile. The abstract reads,

What psychiatry was for the anti-psychiatry movement, psychoanalysis was for the French ‘Anti-Oedipus movement’ represented by Robert Castel, Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari. Until now, the contribution of Foucault to this critical movement has been little known. In this paper I reconstruct in a systematic and exhaustive way Foucault’s critique of psychoanalysis and, in particular, of the Oedipus-complex theory. I demonstrate that this critique presupposes a very specific epistemology and social theory. On an epistemological level, Foucault focuses on the power effects of psychoanalysis as a discourse of subjectivity. On a social-theoretical level, Foucault assumes a functionalist conception of society. These two aspects of Foucault’s critique of psychoanalysis have not been adequately recognized in the discussion about his relationship to psychoanalysis (Derrida, Miller, Whitebook, among others). I argue that a fruitful dialogue between a Foucault-inspired critical social theory and psychoanalysis can take place only if these two distinct aspects are taken into account.

“Some aspects of a medical anthropology: pathic existence and causality in Viktor von Weizsäcker,” by Hartwig Wiedebach of the University of Zurich. The abstract reads,

‘Life is not only an “event” that happens — but also something that is suffered’; this is the core principle of what Viktor von Weizsäcker (1886—1957), the German physician and founder of a ‘Medical Anthropology’, called the ‘pathic’ dimension. The personal voice of the human being himself becomes a constitutive principle within the medium of science. Concepts of cause and effect are no longer applicable in the customary functional sense of aetiology. Even the intellect or spirit (Geist) can no longer be regarded as unscathed. In order to handle pathic ‘causality’ Weizsäcker introduced his ‘pathic pentagram’. The interplay of five modalities — must / may / want / should / can — creates a ground or reason of psychological and/or somatic explanation. Necessity and freedom of a person appear interwoven in a constitutive manner.

“The historical roots of Theory of Mind: the work of James Mark Baldwin,” by Jordi E. Obiols of the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, and German E. Berrios of the University of Cambridge. The abstract reads,

The historical development of the concepts underpinning what is currently called ‘Theory of Mind’ (ToM) has received little attention. This paper deals with the contribution of James Mark Baldwin (1861—1934) whose work on such concepts was original and profound. Embedding his version of ToM into a coherent developmental theory of human cognition, and suggesting novel methods of observation, Baldwin also proposed new conceptual tools and proto-concepts such as the ‘ejective-self’. Baldwin also wrote on the distinction between the mental and the non-mental, and on play and imitation. His influence on Jean Piaget, another important figure in the development of ToM, is briefly touched upon here, as are possible explanations for Baldwin’s woeful absence from the 20th-century ToM hagiography.

“Classic Text No. 79: Excerpt from De la Folie … by P. Despine (1875).” Introduced and translated by  G.E. Berrios. The abstract reads,

The history of the philosophies of psychiatry is yet to be written. Insight into material essential to this endeavour is provided by Classic Text No. 79 which translates an excerpt from the work of Prosper Despine (1812—92), one of the most distinguished alienist-philosophers of the second half of the 19th century. In his De la Folie …, Despine discusses, inter alia, issues concerning the referent, definition and aetiology of ‘madness’. His arguments are that putative brain lesions cannot act as a referent for ‘madness’ for they correlate poorly with mad behaviour; instead, the referent should be provided by a definition worked out by the science of psychology. Lest one commits a categorical fallacy, this association should not be taken as evidence that the brain lesions are the disease because they can be present without madness; and because the latter can develop without brain lesions. Despine seems to suggest that non-organic aetiologies such as psychogenicity should be taken into account.

About Jacy Young

Jacy Young is a professor at Quest University Canada. A critical feminist psychologist and historian of psychology, she is committed to critical pedagogy and public engagement with feminist psychology and the history of the discipline.