Tag Archives: popularization

New in Medical History: Campaigning for Learning Disabled People’s Rights and Susan Isaacs’ Popularization of Psychoanalysis

Susan Isaacs

The October 2017 issue of Medical History includes two articles that may be of interest to AHP readers. These articles tackle campaigning for learning disabled people’s civil rights in the 1970s and Susan Isaacs‘ popularization of psychoanalytic concepts through her writing as Ursula Wise. Full details below.

“Select Citizenship and Learning Disabled People: The Mental Health Charity MIND’s 1970s Campaign in Historical Context,” Jonathan Toms. Abstract:

Current policy and practice directed towards people with learning disabilities originates in the deinstitutionalisation processes, civil rights concerns and integrationist philosophies of the 1970s and 1980s. However, historians know little about the specific contexts within which these were mobilised. Although it is rarely acknowledged in the secondary literature, MIND was prominent in campaigning for rights-based services for learning disabled people during this time. This article sets MIND’s campaign within the wider historical context of the organisation’s origins as a main institution of the inter-war mental hygiene movement. The article begins by outlining the mental hygiene movement’s original conceptualisation of ‘mental deficiency’ as the antithesis of the self-sustaining and responsible individuals that it considered the basis of citizenship and mental health. It then traces how this equation became unravelled, in part by the altered conditions under the post-war Welfare State, in part by the mental hygiene movement’s own theorising. The final section describes the reconceptualisation of citizenship that eventually emerged with the collapse of the mental hygiene movement and the emergence of MIND. It shows that representations of MIND’s rights-based campaigning (which have, in any case, focused on mental illness) as individualist, and fundamentally opposed to medicine and psychiatry, are inaccurate. In fact, MIND sought a comprehensive community-based service, integrated with the general health and welfare services and oriented around a reconstruction of learning disabled people’s citizenship rights.

“‘Speaking Kleinian’: Susan Isaacs as Ursula Wise and the Inter-War Popularisation of Psychoanalysis,” by Michal Shapira. Abstract: Continue reading New in Medical History: Campaigning for Learning Disabled People’s Rights and Susan Isaacs’ Popularization of Psychoanalysis

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On the History of Memes

An article by AHP founding editor Jeremy Burman on the history of memes was recently published in the journal Perspectives on Science. Burman’s “The misunderstanding of memes”  is currently the journal’s most downloaded article and may, for the moment at least, be downloaded for free from MIT Press here.

In this article, Burman traces how the original meaning of memes became distorted over time. Intended originally to be a mere metaphor, “memes” have come to stand for the notion that ideas spread like viruses. The full title and abstract follows below.

“The misunderstanding of memes: Biography of an unscientific object, 1976–1999,” by Jeremy Trevelyan Burman. The abstract reads,

When the “meme” was introduced in 1976, it was as a metaphor intended to illuminate an evolutionary argument. By the late-1980s, however, we see from its use in major US newspapers that this original meaning had become obscured. The meme became a virus of the mind. (In the UK, this occurred slightly later.) It is also now clear that this becoming involved complex sustained interactions between scholars, journalists, and the letter-writing public. We must therefore read the “meme” through lenses provided by its popularization. The results are in turn suggestive of the processes of meaning-construction in scholarly communication more generally.

You can find the full article here.

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