New Articles: Digestion and the Mind, Psychiatric Care in Japan

The Febuary 2019 issue of Social History of Medicine includes two articles that may be of interest to AHP readers. Full details below.

“‘The Grand Organ of Sympathy’: ‘Fashionable’ Stomach Complaints and the Mind in Britain, 1700–1850,” by James Kennaway and Jonathan Andrews. Abstract:

Although the nerves have often been at the centre of the historiographical discussion of the so-called fashionable diseases of Georgian Britain, the stomach and digestion have at least as much claim for consideration. Associations between excessive consumption and elite status lent a touch of glamour to digestive problems, while creating the basis for a critique that depicted stomach maladies as the result of excess, greed and immorality. The first section of this paper explores how the patient experience of these disorders related to their glamorous connotations. The second part then considers changing views of the relationship between the digestion and the mind, arguing that the stomach was very much at the heart of ideas of selfhood until the nineteenth century. The third section examines the reasons for the apparent decline of modish stomach complaints at the end of the Georgian era in terms of changing medical thinking and socio-cultural context.

“Reinvented Places: ‘Tradition’, ‘Family Care’ and Psychiatric Institutions in Japan,” by Susan L Burns. Abstract:

This article explores the history of the care of the mentally ill at Iwakura, a site in northeast Kyoto in Japan where two large psychiatric hospitals now stand. Long a topic of research in Japan, Iwakura reflects a peculiar spatial arrangement common in Japan in which psychiatric hospitals came to be established near religious sites associated with care of the mentally ill in the pre-modern period. In the early twentieth century, Japan’s first generation of psychiatrists began to celebrate Iwakura as offering an indigenous form of ‘family care’, then the object of considerable discussion among psychiatrists and others in Europe and North America. I argue that the valorisation of Iwakura as offering a mode of care that was simultaneously ‘traditional’ and ‘progressive’ reflects the struggle to establish psychiatric institutions that involved local economic interests, public policy, and members of the new psychiatric discipline.

About Jacy Young

Jacy Young recently completed a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) of Canada Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Surrey in the UK. She earned her doctorate in the History and Theory of Psychology at York University in 2014.