Tag Archives: madness

The Invention of Madness: State, Society, and the Insane in Modern China

AHP readers may be interested in a new book available from University of Chicago Press: Emily Baum’s The Invention of Madness: State, Society, and the Insane in Modern China. As described on the publisher’s website:

Throughout most of history, in China the insane were kept within the home and treated by healers who claimed no specialized knowledge of their condition. In the first decade of the twentieth century, however, psychiatric ideas and institutions began to influence longstanding beliefs about the proper treatment for the mentally ill. In The Invention of Madness, Emily Baum traces a genealogy of insanity from the turn of the century to the onset of war with Japan in 1937, revealing the complex and convoluted ways in which “madness” was transformed in the Chinese imagination into “mental illness.”

Focusing on typically marginalized historical actors, including municipal functionaries and the urban poor, The Invention of Madness shifts our attention from the elite desire for modern medical care to the ways in which psychiatric discourses were implemented and redeployed in the midst of everyday life. New meanings and practices of madness, Baum argues, were not just imposed on the Beijing public but continuously invented by a range of people in ways that reflected their own needs and interests. Exhaustively researched and theoretically informed, The Invention of Madness is an innovative contribution to medical history, urban studies, and the social history of twentieth-century China.

“He Must Die or Go Mad in This Place”: Prisoners, Insanity, and the Pentonville Model Prison Experiment, 1842–52

AHP readers may be interested in an article in the most recent issue of the Bulletin of the History of Medicine.

““He Must Die or Go Mad in This Place”: Prisoners, Insanity, and the Pentonville Model Prison Experiment, 1842–52,” by Catherine Cox and Hilary Marland. Abstract:

The relationship between prisons and mental illness has preoccupied prison administrators, physicians, and reformers from the establishment of the modern prison service in the nineteenth century to the current day. Here we take the case of Pentonville Model Prison, established in 1842 with the aim of reforming convicts through religious exhortation, rigorous discipline and training, and the imposition of separate confinement in its most extreme form. Our article demonstrates how following the introduction of separate confinement, the prison chaplains rather than the medical officers took a lead role in managing the minds of convicts. However, instead of reforming and improving prisoners’ minds, Pentonville became associated with high rates of mental disorder, challenging the institution’s regime and reputation. We explore the role of chaplains, doctors, and other prison officers in debating, disputing, and managing cases of mental breakdown and the dismantling of separate confinement in the face of mounting criticism.

 

State of Madness: Psychiatry, Literature, and Dissent After Stalin

New from Northern Illinois University Press is State of Madness: Psychiatry, Literature, and Dissent After Stalin by Rebecca Reich. The book is described on the publisher’s website as follows:

What madness meant was a fiercely contested question in Soviet society. State of Madness examines the politically fraught collision between psychiatric and literary discourses in the years after Joseph Stalin’s death. State psychiatrists deployed set narratives of mental illness to pathologize dissenting politics and art. Dissidents such as Aleksandr Vol’pin, Vladimir Bukovskii, and Semen Gluzman responded by highlighting a pernicious overlap between those narratives and their life stories. The state, they suggested in their own psychiatrically themed texts, had crafted an idealized view of reality that itself resembled a pathological work of art. In their unsanctioned poetry and prose, the writers Joseph Brodsky, Andrei Siniavskii, and Venedikt Erofeev similarly engaged with psychiatric discourse to probe where creativity ended and insanity began. Together, these dissenters cast themselves as psychiatrists to a sick society.

By challenging psychiatry’s right to declare them or what they wrote insane, dissenters exposed as a self-serving fiction the state’s renewed claims to rationality and modernity in the post-Stalin years. They were, as they observed, like the child who breaks the spell of collective delusion in Hans Christian Andersen’s story “The Emperor’s New Clothes.” In a society where normality means insisting that the naked monarch is clothed, it is the truth-teller who is pathologized. Situating literature’s encounter with psychiatry at the center of a wider struggle over authority and power, this bold interdisciplinary study will appeal to literary specialists; historians of culture, science, and medicine; and scholars and students of the Soviet Union and its legacy for Russia today.

History of Psychiatry: Lobotomies, Therapies, the DSM, and More

The March 2018 issue of History of Psychiatry is now online. Articles in this issue explore the history of lobotomy, moral therapy, the history of the DSM, and more. Full titles, authors, and abstracts below.

“History of lobotomy in Poland,” by Kinga J?czmi?ska. Abstract:

In Poland, there were 176 cases of prefrontal leucotomy performed by Moniz’s method between 1947 and 1951. There were also several cases in which alternative psychosurgical techniques were used: prefrontal topectomy by Bilikiewicz and colleagues, and prefrontal topischemia by Ziemnowicz. This article analyses the following: publications by Choróbski, who performed lobotomy in Poland, and by Korzeniowski, who assessed its short-term results; a report by Bornsztajn, who reviewed general results of the method; and clinical research by Broszkiewicz and by Konieczy?ska, who assessed Polish patients in terms of long-term results of lobotomy. Negative clinical evaluation of lobotomy led to its abandonment in Poland, a decision strengthened by a regulation that forbade lobotomy in the USSR and impacted Polish psychiatry.

“Rotation therapy for maniacs, melancholics and idiots: theory, practice and perception in European medical and literary case histories,” by Sheila Dickson. Abstract:

This article examines the development and use of rotation therapy in the emerging field of psychiatry at the beginning of the 19th century, and the cross-fertilization between British, Irish, German, French and other European proponents of ‘Cox’s Swing’. Its short-lived popularity is linked to prevalent Enlightenment thought, to the development of an industrial and technological society, to the modern medical theories of irritability, and to the new practice of ‘moral management’ of the mentally ill. Case studies documenting the use of the Swing are considered from these perspectives, and are compared with contemporary public reactions in the form of publications in newspapers and of a literary text by German Romantic author Ludwig Achim von Arnim.

“François Leuret: the last moral therapist,” by Edward M Brown. Abstract: Continue reading History of Psychiatry: Lobotomies, Therapies, the DSM, and More

New History of Psychiatry: Religious Mania, Criminal Insanity, & More

The June 2017 issue of History of Psychiatry is now online. Articles in this issue explore the relationship between religion and madness, criminal insanity, paralysis of the insanity, female sexuality and syphilis, and more. Full details below.

“From a religious view of madness to religious mania: The Encyclopédie, Pinel, Esquirol,” by Philippe Huneman. Abstract:

This paper focuses on the shift from a concept of insanity understood in terms of religion to another (as entertained by early psychiatry, especially in France) according to which it is believed that forms of madness tinged by religion are difficult to cure. The traditional religious view of madness, as exemplified by Pascal (inter alia), is first illustrated by entries from the Encyclopédie. Then the shift towards a medical view of madness, inspired by Vitalistic physiology, is mapped by entries taken from the same publication. Firmed up by Pinel, this shift caused the abandonment of the religious view. Esquirol considered religious mania to be a vestige from the past, but he also believed that mental conditions carrying a religious component were difficult to cure.

“‘Shrouded in a dark fog’: Comparison of the diagnosis of pellagra in Venice and general paralysis of the insane in the United Kingdom, 1840–1900,” by Egidio Priani. Abstract: Continue reading New History of Psychiatry: Religious Mania, Criminal Insanity, & More