Tag Archives: clinical

AHAP conference on Mental Health Care

AHAPRegistration is now open for the “Mental Health Care in America: Past, Present and Future” conference being hosted by David Baker at the Archives of the History of American Psychology.

The past century has witnessed substantial changes in mental health care in America.  In 1909 Clifford Beers founded the National Committee for Mental Hygiene and Sigmund Freud made his only trip to America, fostering the spread of psychoanalysis.  Forty years later, in 1949, the National Institute of Mental Health was established. In the span of 100 years mental health in America has unfolded against a backdrop of social, political, and economic changes. This two-day conference brings together leading experts in the field to examine where we have been, where we are, and to speculate on where we are going.

David BakerThe program includes invited talks by Ludy Benjamin and Gerald Grob.  In a recent email sent to the members of the Society for the History of Psychology, Baker (pictured right) explained the details as follows:

The event will take place on Thursday, April 23 and Friday, April 24, 2009 at the University of Akron.  We have assembled an outstanding group of scholars and leaders in mental health policy, practice, advocacy, and history. This conference is made possible with the generous support of the Margaret Clark Morgan Foundation.

Those interested in attending can register here.

Fiction and ‘la guerre des psys’ in France

Simon KempIn a recent issue of French Studies, 62(4), Simon Kemp examines the recent fictional works of Marie Darrieussecq. His discussion of her novels, starting with Naissance des fantômes, focusses on her use of models drawn from psychology.

Her fiction makes use of the discipline’s discourse with and against the grain, creating micro-narratives of the mind’s surface level and present moment which contrast sharply with more familiar psychoanalytic perspectives. Narrative form in Darrieussecq, I argue, can be characterized as a stream-of-consciousness, which, while failing to conform to the literary model set by Dujardin and Joyce, is in fact closer to the original psychological conception of the term. (p. 429)

The article’s literary aspects are interesting. What will ultimately be more important for the readers of AHP, however, is Kemp’s short discussion of a contemporary dispute in French psychological scholarship: CBT vs. psychoanalysis.

…it is in this practical arena of psychotherapy that the disciplines’ disputes have come to public attention. In France this has sparked what L’Express has dubbed ‘la guerre des psys’, a cultural phenomenon which must now form the background against which Darrieussecq produces her fiction.  Continue reading Fiction and ‘la guerre des psys’ in France

DSM-V Debate on NPR

National Public Radio (NPR) in the US has posted an episode of its program “On the Media” centered on the debate over the contents of the forthcoming 5th edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-V) of the American Psychiatric Association. The episode is entitled “The Art of Diagnosis.” The issues discussed focus mainly on the social acceptance or stigmatization of people complaining of particular clusters of symptom and not, perhaps surprisingly, on access to insurance payments or pharmaceutical company windfalls.

Among the politically-charged syndromes under review are “Gender Identity Disorder,” an extreme form of PMS called “Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder” (for which a specific pharmaceutical, Sarafem, has already been marketed), and “Social Anxiety Disorder” (better known as shyness). Questions about this sort of “diagnostic bracket creep” are discussed on the program. Continue reading DSM-V Debate on NPR

PhD in History of Asperger’s and Autism

Breaking News: The University of Groningen has announced that a 4-year research grant will be provided for a student of non-Dutch nationality to study the history of Asperger’s Syndrome. The position, leading to a dissertation about “the proliferation of Asperger’s Syndrome,” will be in the Theory & History of Psychology section of the Faculty of Behavioral and Social Sciences. Application details are here. (The deadline is October 27.)

Thomas Szasz on diagnostic malpractice

In this keynote address, Professor Thomas Szasz appeals to the history of psychiatry in making his argument against the labeling of children as having, for example, ADD/ADHD. (In the speech, he calls this “stigmatization not diagnosis.”) But does the history to which he refers simply show progress in the medicalization of moral treatment? Or is it, as he claims, evidence of something more sinister?


  1. This video has been edited, but not by us. (The full text of this speech, or one very much like it, can be found here.)
  2. Professor Szasz is famous for, among other things, his anti-psychiatry bias. That, however, is not what’s on display for our purposes here.

AHP has covered similar issues in the past, most notably here (on changing the DSM), here (on how psychiatry is financed), and here (on the removal of homosexuality from the DSM). A bibliography of readings related to Professor Szasz’ comments, for interested students, is appended below the fold. Continue reading Thomas Szasz on diagnostic malpractice