New History of Psychiatry: Schizophrenia, Children’s Mental Hospitals, and More

The December 2020 issue of History of Psychiatry is now available online. Full titles, authors, and abstracts below.

“‘I think’ (the thoughts of others). The German tradition of apperceptionism and the intellectual history of schizophrenia,” Liesbet De Kock. Abstract:

Although contemporary approaches to schizophrenia pinpoint ‘disturbances of the self’ as a central aetiological factor, historical insight into the link between accounts of schizophrenia and theories of subjectivity and self-consciousness is poor. This paper aims to overcome this gap by providing the outlines of a largely forgotten but crucial part of the intellectual history of schizophrenia. In particular, the impact of the German tradition of apperceptionism on nineteenth-century accounts of schizophrenia is unearthed. This tradition emerged from German Idealism, and culminated in Emil Kraepelin’s account of dementia praecox. In addition to filling an important gap in the historiography of psychiatry, this analysis contributes to ongoing efforts to correct some common misunderstandings regarding Kraepelin’s theoretical position.

Hallucinations and Illusions by Edmund Parish: the unlikely genesis and curious fate of a forgotten masterpiece,” Jan Dirk Blom. Abstract:

In 1894, the German scholar Edmund Parish published his classic work Über die Trugwahrnehmung, with an expanded English edition called Hallucinations and Illusions appearing in 1897. Both versions won critical acclaim from celebrities such as Joseph Jastrow and William James, although, curiously, few others seemed to have noticed the book. After two more publications, Parish inexplicably stopped publishing. During the century that followed, it seemed as if neither he nor his work had ever existed. Now that scholars have finally started to appreciate the book, the present paper seeks to answer the questions of how it came into being, why it disappeared for so long, and who its mysterious author was.

“From Libidines nefandæ to sexual perversions,” Diederik F Janssen. Abstract:

A conceptual evolution is traceable from early modern classifications of libido nefanda (execrable lust) to early nineteenth-century allusions to ‘perversion of the sexual instinct’, via pluralizing notions of coitus nefandus/sodomiticus in Martin Schurig’s work, and of sodomia impropria in seventeenth- through late eighteenth-century legal medicine. Johann Valentin Müller’s early breakdown of various unnatural penchants seemingly inspired similar lists in works by Johann Christoph Fahner and Johann Josef Bernt, and ultimately Heinrich Kaan. This allows an ante-dating of the ‘specification of the perverted’ (Foucault) often located in the late nineteenth century, and appreciation of pygmalionism and necrophilia as instances of ‘perverted sexual instinct’. In this light, Kaan’s early psychopathia sexualis was less innovative and more ambivalent than previously thought.

“The ambivalent role of the institution in the history of child and adolescent psychiatry: a case study of the Hawthorn Centre in Michigan, USA,” Robert Cesaro, Laura Hirshbein. Abstract:

Historians have examined the role of psychiatric institutions in the USA and addressed whether this form of care helped or harmed patients (depending on the perspective of the time period, historical actors, and historians). But the story for children’s mental institutions was different. At the time when adult institutions were in decline, children’s mental hospitals were expanding. Parents and advocates clamoured for more beds and more services. The decrease in facilities for children was more due to economic factors than ideological opposition. This paper explores a case study of a hospital in Michigan as a window into the different characteristics of the discussion of psychiatric care for children.

“Beyond the asylum and before the ‘care in the community’ model: exploring an overlooked early NHS mental health facility,” Christina Malathouni. Abstract:

This article discusses the Admission and Treatment Unit at Fair Mile Hospital, in Cholsey, near Wallingford, Berkshire (now Oxfordshire). This was the first new hospital to be completed in England following the launch of the National Health Service. The building was designed by Powell and Moya, one of the most important post-war English architectural practices, and was completed in 1956, but demolished in 2003. The article relates the commission of the building to landmark policy changes and argues for its historic significance in the context of the NHS and of the evolution of mental health care models and policies. It also argues for the need for further study of those early NHS facilities in view of current developments in mental health provision.

“Eamon O’Sullivan: 20th-century Irish psychiatrist and occupational therapy patron,” Judith Pettigrew, Aisling Shalvey, Bríd Dunne, Katie Robinson. Abstract:

The profession of occupational therapy was formalized in the USA in 1917. Many of its earliest proponents were psychiatrists, yet their role in the development of the profession has received limited attention. This paper addresses this gap by considering one of the earliest Irish psychiatrist patrons of occupational therapy: Dr Eamon O’Sullivan (1897–1966) of Killarney Mental Hospital, Co Kerry, who developed an occupational therapy department in 1934. A textbook written by O’Sullivan reflects core philosophies articulated by occupational therapy’s founders, and these philosophies were evident in practice at his hospital. Some inconsistencies between O’Sullivan’s writings and practice are identified. In the absence of patient testimonies, it is not possible to resolve questions about the potential exploitation of patients through work as therapy.

“American Civil War medical practice, the post-bellum opium crisis and modern comparisons,” R Gregory Lande. Abstract:

The American Civil War resulted in massive numbers of injured and ill soldiers. Throughout the conflict, medical doctors relied on opium to treat these conditions, giving rise to claims that the injudicious use of the narcotic caused America’s post-bellum opium crisis. Similar claims of medical misuse of opioids are now made as America confronts the modern narcotic crisis. A more nuanced thesis based on a broader base of Civil War era research suggests a more complex set of interacting factors that collectively contributed to America’s post-war opium crisis.

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.