You’ll find a range of relevant works this month in periodical publications near and dear to our subject. Among the usual suspects are History of the Human Sciences, History of Psychiatry, and Social History of Medicine.
HHS includes interesting pieces about interactions between American and German eugenicists during the interwar period, methodological suggestions for conducting histories of ‘the self,’ and mid-century Argentinian sociology and American imperialism. History of Psychiatry offers a piece that questions established narratives which have associated the decline in LSD therapy with prohibitive regulation, a survey of theories under the theory of mind umbrella, a history of the use of graphology in German psychiatry through 1930, an examination of the problematization of sexual appetite in the DSM, and a history of the use of European psychiatric hospitals by the Ottoman Empire (and the repatriation of mentally-ill Ottoman subjects from European countries). Not least, in the Soc Hist of Med, there’s a piece on the use of physical treatments by British military psychiatry during WWII, and also one on the hybrid forms of African-Amerindian-European healing practices employed by enslaved African healers during the colonization of the interior of Brazil.
Find the links to each article and their abstracts below, after the jump.
History of the Human Sciences
This article assesses interactions between American and German eugenicists in the interwar period. It shows the shifting importance and leading roles of German and American eugenicists: while interactions and exchanges between German and American eugenicists in the interwar period were important and significant, it remains difficult to establish direct American influence on Nazi legislation. German experts of race hygiene who advised the Nazi government in drafting the sterilization law were well informed about the experiences with similar laws in American states, most importantly in California and Virginia, but there is little evidence to suggest they depended on American knowledge and expertise to draft their own sterilization law. Rather, they adapted a body of thought that was transnational by nature: suggesting that the Nazis’ racial policies can be traced back to American origins over-simplifies the historical record. Still, the ‘American connection’ of the German racial hygiene movement is a significant aspect of the general history of eugenics into which it needs to be integrated. The similarities in eugenic thinking and practice in the USA and Germany force us to re-evaluate the peculiarity of Nazi racial policies.
How to do the history of the self by Elwin Hofman
The history of the self is a flourishing field. Nevertheless, there are some problems that have proven difficult to overcome, mainly concerning teleology, the universality or particularity of the self and the gap between ideas and experiences of the self. In this article, I make two methodological suggestions to address these issues. First, I propose a ‘queering’ of the self, inspired by recent developments in the history of sexuality. By destabilizing the modern self and writing the histories of its different and paradoxical aspects, we can better attend to continuities and discontinuities in the history of the self and break up the idea of a linear and unitary history. I distinguish 4 overlapping and intersecting axes along which discourses of the self present themselves: (1) interiority and outer orientation; (2) stability and flexibility; (3) holism and fragmentation; and (4) self-control and dispossession. Second, I propose studying 4 ‘practices of self’ through which the self is created, namely: (1) techniques of self; (2) self-talk; (3) interpreting the self; and (4) regulating practices. Analysing these practices allows one to go beyond debates about experience versus expression, and to recognize that expressions of self are never just expressions, but make up the self itself.
Social sciences in Latin America experienced, during the 1960s, a great number of debates concerning the very foundations of different academic fields. In the case of Argentina, research programs such as Proyecto Marginalidad constituted fundamental elements of those controversies, which were characteristic of disciplinary developments within the social sciences, particularly sociology. Mainly influenced by the critical context that had been deepened by Project Camelot, Argentinian social scientists engaged in debates about the theories that should be chosen in order to account for ‘national reality’, the origins of funding for scientific research, or the applied dimension of science. In this sense, the practices of philanthropic organizations like the Ford Foundation stimulated considerably the ideological passions of that period; those practices also contributed to fragmentation in various academic groups. In this way, the problem of American imperialism, and its consequent economic and cultural dependencies, were present in the controversies of academic fields whose historic evolutions cannot be fully understood without considering their strong links with national and international politics.
History of Psychiatry
Over the 1950s and early 1960s, the use of the hallucinogenic drug lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) to facilitate psychotherapy was a promising field of psychiatric research in the USA. However, during the 1960s, research began to decline, before coming to a complete halt in the mid-1970s. This has commonly been explained through the increase in prohibitive federal regulations during the 1960s that aimed to curb the growing recreational use of the drug. However, closely examining the Food and Drug Administration’s regulation of LSD research in the 1960s will reveal that not only was LSD research never prohibited, but that the administration supported research to a greater degree than has been recognized. Instead, the decline in research reflected more complex changes in the regulation of pharmaceutical research and development.
Theory of mind and Verstehen (understanding) methodology by Tsutomu Kumazaki
Theory of mind is a prominent, but highly controversial, field in psychology, psychiatry, and philosophy of mind. Simulation theory, theory-theory and other views have been presented in recent decades, none of which are monolithic. In this article, various views on theory of mind are reviewed, and methodological problems within each view are investigated. The relationship between simulation theory and Verstehen (understanding) methodology in traditional human sciences is an intriguing issue, although the latter is not a direct ancestor of the former. From that perspective, lessons for current clinical psychiatry are drawn.
Graphology in German psychiatry (1870-1930) by Armin Schäfer
This article discusses both the use of graphology in German psychiatry (1870–1930) and the use of handwriting in psychiatric experiments. The examination of handwriting was part of an ensemble of diagnostic tools. Although disorders of handwriting seemed to indicate psychic diseases, graphology did not seem the right method to produce valid observations. Nevertheless, psychiatrists began to incorporate the process of writing into research and diagnosis and to make the process of handwriting an experimental field. Emil Kraepelin invented an apparatus – the so-called Writing-Scale – with which he could measure the dynamics of writing in various dimensions and, in particular, the pressure of movements. The experiments produced a huge amount of data, but the psychiatrists were unable to interpret them in a comprehensible way. Although psychiatrists failed to grasp the psychopathology in handwriting, they discovered a systemic behaviour of the organism controlled by feedback.
This article examines the problematization of sexual appetite and its imbalances in the development of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. The dominant strands of historiographies of sexuality have focused on historicizing sexual object choice and understanding the emergence of sexual identities. This article emphasizes the need to contextualize these histories within a broader frame of historical interest in the problematization of sexual appetite. The first part highlights how sexual object choice, as a paradigm of sexual dysfunctions, progressively receded from medical interest in the twentieth century as the clinical gaze turned to the problem of sexual appetite and its imbalances. The second part uses the example of the newly introduced Female Sexual Interest/Arousal Disorder in the DSM-5 to explore how the Manual functions as a technique for taking care of the self. I argue that the design of the Manual and associated inventories and questionnaires paved the way for their interpretation and application as techniques for self-examination.
The Ottoman Empire, which encompassed a vast territory, had several facilities for the protection and treatment of the mentally ill. By the late nineteenth century, some wealthy families had begun to send their patients to mental hospitals in Europe for better treatment. During the same period, the process of repatriation of mental patients who were Ottoman subjects also began. These processes, which resulted in complex bureaucratic measures, later found a place in regulations and laws. The Ottoman Empire had an additional incentive to protect mentally-ill patients during the Second Constitutional Era, when discussions about ‘citizenship’ reappeared. This article examines the practices of sending mentally-ill people to Europe and the repatriation of mentally-ill Ottoman subjects from European countries.
The Hard School: Physical Treatments for War Neurosis in Britain during the Second World War by Elizabeth Roberts-Pedersen
While accounts of the practice of military psychiatry during the Second World War have tended to emphasise the development of psychodynamic innovations such as therapeutic communities and group therapy in treating patients with war neurosis, this article explores the parallel use of ‘physical treatments’ by British practitioners during the conflict. Focusing on the work of William Sargant and his collaborators at the Sutton Emergency Hospital, it argues for the importance of these treatments not only for understanding the tenor of wartime psychiatry, but for demonstrating the attractions of physical treatments for managing large patient cohorts during wartime and in the post-war decades.
African slaves played a key role in the colonization of Minas Gerais in the interior of Brazil during the eighteenth century. Popular healers from Africa and of African descent were important providers of health care in the region during the colonial period. Relying on a variety of healing practices, their activities often came under the scrutiny of religious authorities as they were denounced to the commissioners of the Inquisition of Lisbon or to priests in the local parishes. The most commonly denounced healing practice was a spirit possession ritual referred to as calundu. Besides organizing healing rituals, African healers offered herbal remedies to their patients. In some cases, the mixing of African, Amerindian and European practices resulted in hybrid forms of healing, which appealed to a wide array of clients, including blacks as well as whites seeking remedies to their illness.