September 2021 History of Psychiatry: Air Raid Shock in WWI, Proposal for Non-Restraint, and More

The September 2021 issue of History of Psychiatry is now online. Full titles, authors, and abstracts follow below.

“Moreau de Tours: organicism and subjectivity. Part 2: Moreau as psychopathologist,” José I Pérez Revuelta, José M Villagrán Moreno. Abstract:

These two articles analyse the importance of J.J. Moreau de Tours’ work and its influence on the development of descriptive psychopathology from the mid-nineteenth century to the present. The first article focused on biographical aspects and presented Moreau’s main works in their social and cultural contexts. This second article critically analyses Moreau’s contributions from different perspectives: epistemological, psychopathological, clinical, therapeutic, and it also discusses his role as a public figure.

“Melancholia Scytharum: the early modern psychiatry of transgender identification,” Diederik F Janssen. Abstract:

Herodotus’s enigmatic Scythian theleia nousos/morbus femininus and its Hippocratic interpretation interested many early modern authors. Its seeming dimension of transgender identification invited various medico-psychological and psychiatric reflections, culminating in nosologist de Sauvages’ tentative 1731 term, melancholia Scytharum. This article identifies pertinent discussions and what turn out to have been entangled, tentative psychologizations in late-seventeenth through mid-nineteenth-century mental medicine: of ‘effeminacy of manners’ (mollities animi such as observed in London’s Beaux and mollies) and male homosexuality (amour antiphysique/grec); of the mental masculinity of some women (viragines, Amazones); of ubiquitous attributions of impotence to sorcery (anaphrodisia magica); and lastly, of transfeminine persons encountered throughout the New World and increasingly beyond.

“When war came home: air-raid shock in World War I,” Stefanie Caroline Linden. Abstract:

During World War I, civilians became a target of the war machine. Air raids transformed the lives of those not involved in active combat and blurred the lines between the home front and the war front. This paper argues that the experience of air raids in World War I was comparable to the combat stress at the Western Front. The author bases her argument on contemporary publications in medical journals, measures taken by British authorities to prevent air-raid shock, and contemporary case records. The narratives of air-raid shock – similarly to those of shell-shocked soldiers – reflect the feelings of terror and loss of control, and demonstrate the profound effect these experiences could have on individuals’ mental health.

“Wearing the wolf skin: psychiatry and the phenomenon of the berserker in medieval Scandinavia,” Michael Heath, Max Cooper. Abstract:

This paper examines the berserker, a frenzied warrior attested to in both the written and material sources of medieval Scandinavia, and elucidates the characteristics that define him. It critiques explanations for the phenomenon offered in the existing historiography and whether this can be explained as a psychiatric diagnosis. It concludes that the berserker cannot be simply defined as a culturally bound or other psychiatric syndrome, or accounted for by psychogenic drugs alone. Instead, it proposes that berserk frenzy constituted a transitory dissociative state shared among a small warband steeped in religious/spiritual ideology. In entering this state, the psyche of the berserker was reconstituted in an almost archetypal pattern. Further research is required into this phenomenon in other contexts, including modern conflicts.

“Freud, Griesinger and Foville: the influence of the nineteenth-century psychiatric tradition in the Freudian concept of delusion as an ‘attempt at recovery’,” Jessica Tran The. Abstract:

This article aims to situate the Freudian concept of delusion in psychosis as an ‘attempt at recovery’, within the context of the classical psychiatric theories prevalent in the nineteenth century. Freud’s theoretical thinking on the psychopathology of psychosis presents elements of continuity with, and divergence from, the psychiatric theories of his time. We will thus demonstrate the singularity of Freud’s own theory. We will discuss the possible influence that the theory proposed by Griesinger, with its description of a temporal evolution in the psychotic process, may have had on Freud’s thinking, and consider the theory of ‘deductive logic’ prevalent in nineteenth-century French psychiatry. Finally, we will discuss the vehement critique Freud made of both these theories.

“Collecting to understand: the art of children and the medical-pedagogical approach in twentieth-century Portugal,” João Pedro Fróis. Abstract:

In this essay I look at the art of children as a tool in the medical-pedagogical approach, as proposed by the founder of child psychiatry in Portugal, Vítor Fontes (1893–1979). First, the topic of the art of children is introduced, and the second part focuses on the model of medical pedagogy as it was practised in Portugal. The third and fourth parts present Fontes’s own investigations on the drawings of children with intellectual disabilities under observation at the Instituto Médico-Pedagógico António Aurélio da Costa Ferreira (IAACF) in Lisbon. In the conclusion it is argued that Fontes contributed to the development of child psychiatry in Portugal by showing that children’s art can mirror their cognitive and emotional development.

“Five autopsy reports of rib fractures in the mental hospital of Reggio Emilia (1874–5): pathogenesis proposal in defence of the ‘non-restraint’ system,” Chiara Tesi, Mario Picozzi. Abstract:

At the end of the nineteenth century, recurrent cases of rib fractures were recorded in psychiatric asylums, opening a long chapter of discussions about the application of the ‘non-restraint’ system. Here we present a brief discussion of an article written by Enrico Morselli about five cases of rib fractures in the mental asylum of Reggio Emilia, in 1874–5. Morselli, a supporter of the ideas of ‘non-restraint’, suggested a common pathological cause. His analysis proposed the osteomalacic condition as the possible cause of fractured ribs, rejecting the accusations of violence by asylum attendants. The discussion also examines similar cases of the same period, making rib fractures the means through which the issue of management of the insane was addressed.

“Mind and soul? Two notions in the light of contemporary philosophy,” Enrico Berti. Abstract:

From the perspective of the Aristotelian notion of ‘Form’, the author explores the history of the concepts of mind and soul focusing on their ontologized version, as entertained by conventional science. He concludes that current neuroscience lacks the conceptual wherewithal required to deal with the meaning of mind and soul and with agential consequences such as free will and moral decision making. [GEB]

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.