A piece forthcoming in a special issue of the Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences, and now online, will interest AHP readers: “Bonds of time and space: Divination and the psychiatric encounter,” by Emily Baum. Abstract:
This essay examines the intersections between divination and psychiatry in the context of modern Chinese history. Throughout the 20th century, subsequent political regimes attempted to drive an ontological wedge between psychiatry, which was deemed scientific, and divination, which was deemed superstitious. While the dichotomy between science and superstition remains a powerful ideology today, it belies the use of divination as a psychotherapeutic tool. Occult practices such as fortune telling and shamanism complement the application of technical psychiatric skills by serving a crucial moral and interpersonal function, one that has important implications for the practice of mental healthcare both within and beyond Asia.