A new issue of History of Psychiatry is now online. Included in this issue are articles on Albert Moll (right) and hypnosis, therapeutic fascism, lycanthropy, and much more. Full titles, authors, and abstracts follow below.
“The powers of suggestion: Albert Moll and the debate on hypnosis,” by Andreas-Holger Maehle. The abstract reads,
The Berlin physician Albert Moll (1862–1939) was an advocate of hypnotic suggestion therapy and a prolific contributor to the medical, legal and public discussions on hypnotism from the 1880s to the 1920s. While his work in other areas, such as sexology, medical ethics and parapsychology, has recently attracted scholarly attention, this paper for the first time comprehensively examines Moll’s numerous publications on hypnotism and places them in their contemporary context. It covers controversies over the therapeutic application of hypnosis, the reception of Moll’s monograph Der Hypnotismus (1889), his research on the rapport between hypnotizer and subject, his role as an expert on ‘hypnotic crime’, and his views on the historical influence of hypnotism on the development of psychotherapy. My findings suggest that Moll rose to prominence due to the strong late-nineteenth-century public and medical interest in the phenomena of hypnosis, but that his work was soon overshadowed by new, non-hypnotic psychotherapeutic approaches, particularly Freud’s psychoanalysis.
“Mental health, citizenship, and the memory of World War II in the Netherlands (1945–85),” by Harry Oosterhuis. The abstract reads,
After World War II, Dutch psychiatrists and other mental health care professionals articulated ideals of democratic citizenship. Framed in terms of self-development, citizenship took on a broad meaning, not just in terms of political rights and obligations, but also in the context of material, social, psychological and moral conditions that individuals should meet in order to develop themselves and be able to act according to those rights and obligations in a responsible way. In the post-war period of reconstruction (1945–65), as well as between 1965 and 1985, the link between mental health and ideals of citizenship was coloured by the public memory of World War II and the German occupation, albeit in completely different, even opposite ways. The memory of the war, and especially the public consideration of its victims, changed drastically in the mid-1960s, and the mental health sector played a crucial role in bringing this change about. The widespread attention to the mental effects of the war that surfaced in the late 1960s after a period of 20 years of public silence should be seen against the backdrop of the combination of democratization and the emancipation of emotions.
“Therapeutic Fascism: re-educating Communists in Nazi-occupied Serbia, 1942–44,” by Ana Antic. The abstract reads,
This article probes the relationship between psychoanalysis and right-wing authoritarianism, and analyses a unique psychotherapeutic institution established by Serbia’s World War II collaborationist regime. The extraordinary Institute for compulsory re-education of high-school and university students affiliated with the Communist resistance movement emerged in the context of a brutal civil war and violent retaliations against Communist activists, but its openly psychoanalytic orientation was even more astonishing. In order to stem the rapid spread of Communism, the collaborationist state, led by its most extreme fascistic elements, officially embraced psychotherapy, the ‘talking cure’ and Freudianism, and conjured up its own theory of mental pathology and trauma – one that directly contradicted the Nazi concepts of society and the individual. In the course of the experiment, Serbia’s collaborationists moved away from the hitherto prevailing organicist, biomedical model of mental illness, and critiqued traditional psychiatry’s therapeutic pessimism.
“‘Rapid tranquillisation’: an historical perspective on its emergence in the context of the development of antipsychotic medications,” by Laura Allison and Joanna Moncrieff. The abstract reads,
This paper examines factors involved in the theory and practice of emergency sedation for behavioural disturbance in psychiatry in the mid-twentieth century, and the emergence of the concept of ‘rapid tranquillisation’. The practice received little attention until the arrival of antipsychotic drugs, which replaced older sedatives and became the agents most strongly associated with the treatment of aggression and challenging behaviour. Emergency sedation was subsequently portrayed in psychiatric literature and advertising as a therapeutic and diagnosis-driven endeavour, and the concept of rapid tranquillisation emerged in this context in the 1970s. Use of non-antipsychotic sedatives, like the benzodiazepines, is barely visible in contemporary sources, and the research suggests that antipsychotics became the mainstay of rapid tranquillisation strategies because of beliefs about their specific therapeutic properties in psychosis and schizophrenia, and not because of demonstrated superiority over other agents.
“Resilience of institutional culture: mental nursing in a decade of radical change,” by Niall McCrae. The abstract reads,
Mental nursing has continued to be neglected in the history of psychiatry. This paper considers the impact of a decade of radical developments on the role and outlook of nurses in British mental hospitals during the 1930s. The Mental Treatment Act 1930 introduced voluntary admission for early, supposedly treatable cases, although there was paucity of effective treatment. In the mid-1930s shock therapies, administered with great enthusiasm by asylum doctors, promised to cure insanity by physical means. Although these were important milestones in the progress of psychiatry, for the majority of nurses and patients life continued much as before. Despite advances in training, working conditions and therapeutic activity, the institutional culture of nursing was remarkably resilient to the forces of change.
“When doctors cry wolf: a systematic review of the literature on clinical lycanthropy,” by Jan Dirk Blom. The abstract reads,
This paper provides an overview and critical reassessment of the cases of clinical lycanthropy reported in the medical literature from 1850 onwards. Out of 56 original case descriptions of metamorphosis into an animal, only 13 fulfilled the criteria of clinical lycanthropy proper. The remaining cases constituted variants of the overarching class of clinical zoanthropy. Forty-seven cases involved primary delusions, and nine secondary delusions on the basis of somatic and/or visual hallucinations which may well have affected the patients’ sense of physical existence, also known as coenaesthesis. Cases of secondary delusions in particular warrant proper somatic and auxiliary investigations to rule out any underlying organic pathology, notably in somatosensory areas and those representing the body scheme.
“Karl Jaspers’ phenomenology in the light of histological and X-ray metaphors,” by Olga Alexandrovna Vlasova. The abstract reads,
The study considers the origins of Karl Jaspers’ phenomenology. What did phenomenology mean to Jaspers and what was his personal perspective? What metaphors did he associate with it? This paper describes his phenomenological method by using the metaphors of histology and the X-ray. This perspective enables a better understanding, not only of the origins and essence of his phenomenology but also of its value for Jaspers himself. In Jaspers’ daily life, he would have been familiar with microscopes and X-ray machines.