AHP readers may be interested in a recent piece published in Aeon: “Collective psychiatry: Chinese psychiatry remains committed to the political ideal of mental hygiene, long after its discrediting in the West.” As Emily Baum writes in the piece,
If we look back in time, the continued influence of mental hygiene in China is hardly surprising. When the discipline first made its way there in the middle of the Republican period (1911-49), it coincided with an extensive interest in the concept of ‘hygiene’ more broadly. At the time, hygiene, or
weisheng, had only recently entered the Chinese imaginary. Although the particular characters that constituted weishenghad long existed in the Chinese vocabulary, they were used to refer to various dietetic and meditative regimens. But in the early 20th century weishengwas imbued with more modern connotations, including scientific progress, racial fitness and state control over public health. Believing that individual and national strength were linked, successive government regimes implemented hygienic measures to both improve the health of the population and shore up political power.
Read the full piece online here.