December 2019 issue of History of Psychiatry

The December 2019 issue of History of Psychiatry is now online. Titles, authors, and abstracts follow below:

“Women neuropsychiatrists on Wagner-Jauregg’s staff in Vienna at the time of the Nobel award: ordeal and fortitude,” Lazaros C Triarhou. Abstract:

This article profiles the scientific lives of six women physicians on the staff of the Clinic of Neurology and Psychiatry at the University of Vienna in 1927, the year when its Director, Julius Wagner-Jauregg, was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. They were all of Jewish descent and had to leave Austria in the 1930s to escape from the National Socialist regime. With a solid background in brain science and mental disorders, Alexandra Adler, Edith Klemperer, Annie Reich, Lydia Sicher and Edith Vincze pursued academic careers in the USA, while Fanny Halpern spent 18 years in Shanghai, where she laid the foundations of modern Chinese psychiatry, before going to Canada. At the dawn of their medical careers, they were among the first women to practise neurology and psychiatry, both in Austria and overseas.

“The invisible woman: Susan Carnegie and Montrose Lunatic Asylum,” by Sharlene D Walbaum. Abstract:

In 1779, Susan Carnegie (1743–1821) persuaded the Town Council of Montrose, Scotland, to build a safe haven for those suffering from both poverty and mental illness. As a result, Montrose Lunatic Asylum became not only the first public asylum in Scotland, but among the first in the English-speaking world. Carnegie – born 175 years before women could vote – championed a humane and science-based response to mental illness. Montrose Asylum practised moral treatment a decade before Tuke and Pinel. As a champion of the new mental science, her enduring influence resulted in the hiring of the young W.A.F. Browne. Her story enriches the current wave of scholarship on Scottish psychiatry in particular, and on women in psychiatry in general.

“Humane treatment versus means of control: coercive measures in Norwegian high-security psychiatry, 1895–1978,” by Magne Brekke Rabben, Øyvind Thomassen. Abstract:

This article analyses the use of coercive measures in two national institutions for high-security psychiatry in Norway – Kriminalasylet (Criminal Asylum) and Reitgjerdet – during the period 1895–1978. Historical study of coercion in psychiatry is a fruitful approach to new insight into the moral and ethical considerations within the institutions. We approach the topic through a qualitative study of patient case files and ward reports from the institutions’ archives, as well as a comprehensive quantification of the coercive measures used. The data show shifting considerations of humane treatment and changes in the respect for human dignity in the institutions’ practices. They also show that technological developments, such as the introduction of new psychopharmaceuticals, did not necessarily lead to higher standards of treatment.

“Neurasthenia, psy sciences and the ‘great leap forward’ in Maoist China,” by Wen-Ji Wang. Abstract:

The present study looks into the much-neglected history of neurasthenia in Maoist China in relation to the development of psy sciences. It begins with an examination of the various factors that transformed neurasthenia into a major health issue from the late 1950s to mid-1960s. It then investigates a distinctive culture of therapeutic experiment of neurasthenia during this period, with emphasis on the ways in which psy scientists and medical practitioners manoeuvred in a highly politicized environment. The study concludes with a discussion of the legacy of these neurasthenia studies – in particular, the experiment with the famous ‘speedy and synthetic therapy’ – and of the implications the present study may have for future historical study of psychiatry and science.

“‘Am I mad?’: the Windham case and Victorian resistance to psychiatry,” by Dan Degerman. Abstract:

This article revisits the notorious trial of William Windham, a wealthy young man accused of lunacy. The trial in 1861–2 saw the country’s foremost experts on psychological medicine very publicly debate the concepts, symptoms and diagnosis of insanity. I begin by surveying the trial and the testimonies of medical experts. Their disparate assessments of Windham evoked heated reactions in the press and Parliament; these reactions are the focus of the second section. I then proceed to examine criticism of psychiatry in the newspapers more generally in the 1860s, outlining the political resistance to psychiatry and the responses of some leading psychiatrists. In conclusion, I consider what this says about the politics of medicalization at the time.

“Rape of the lock: note on nineteenth-century hair fetishists,” by Diederik F Janssen. Abstract:

The ostensibly bizarre crime of braid-cutting invited occasional alienist inferences from the late 1850s onwards, until it entered mid-1880s police profiles and forensic-psychiatric taxonomies as a corollary of perversion, specifically sadism and fetishism. Cases were rare, but were reported as late as the mid-1930s and enduringly cited as encompassing a staple variety of fetishism. This note briefly reconstructs entries in German, French and English forensic psychiatry, sexual psychopathology and psychoanalysis.

“Madness, Medicine and Miracle in Twelfth-Century England,” by Claire Trenery. Abstract:

This monograph provides a fresh perspective on how madness was defined and diagnosed as a condition of the mind in the Middle Ages and what effects it was thought to have on sufferers. Records of miracles that were believed to have been performed by saints reveal details of illnesses and injuries that afflicted medieval people. In the twelfth century, such records became increasingly medicalized and naturalized as the monks who recorded them gained access to Greek and Arabic medical material, newly translated into Latin. Nonetheless, by exploring nuances and patterns across the cults of five English saints, this book shows that hagiographical representations of madness were shaped as much by the individual circumstances of their recording as they were by new medical and theological standards.

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.