Tag Archives: mental health

Diagnosing the Kaiser: Psychiatry, Wilhelm II and the Question of German War Guilt

Kaiser Wilhelm II and Germany 1890–1914 Head and shoulders portrait of the Kaiser by Court Photographer T. H. Voigt of Frankfurt, 1902.

The July 2018 issue of Medical History includes the The William Bynum Prize Essay 2016: “Diagnosing the Kaiser: Psychiatry, Wilhelm II and the Question of German War Guilt,” by David Freis. Abstract:

After his abdication in November 1918, the German emperor Wilhelm II continued to haunt the minds of his people. With the abolition of the lese-majesty laws in the new republic, many topics that were only discussed privately or obliquely before could now be broached openly. One of these topics was the mental state of the exiled Kaiser. Numerous psychiatrists, physicians and laypeople published their diagnoses of Wilhelm in high-circulation newspaper articles, pamphlets, and books shortly after the end of the war. Whether these diagnoses were accurate and whether the Kaiser really was mentally ill became the issue of a heated debate.

This article situates these diagnoses of Wilhelm II in their political context. The authors of these diagnoses – none of whom had met or examined Wilhelm II in person – came from all political camps and they wrote with very different motives in mind. Diagnosing the exiled Kaiser as mentally ill was a kind of exorcism of the Hohenzollern rule, opening the way for either a socialist republic or the hoped-for rule of a new leader. But more importantly, it was a way to discuss and allocate political responsibility and culpability. Psychiatric diagnoses were used to exonerate both the Emperor (for whom the treaty of Versailles provided a tribunal as war criminal) and the German nation. They were also used to blame the Kaiser’s entourage and groups that had allegedly manipulated the weak-willed monarch. Medical concepts became a vehicle for a debate on the key political questions in interwar Germany.

Supple Bodies, Healthy Minds: Yoga, Psychedelics and American Mental Health

AHP readers will be interested in a forthcoming open access article in Medical Humanities that explores “Supple bodies, healthy minds: yoga, psychedelics and American mental health.” The piece, by Lucas Richert and Matthew DeCloedt, is now available online. Abstract:

Much discussion about mental health has revolved around treatment models. As interdisciplinary scholarship has shown, mental health knowledge, far from being a neutral product detached from the society that generated it, was shaped by politics, economics and culture. By drawing on case studies of yoga, religion and fitness, this article will examine the ways in which mental health practices—sometimes scientific, sometimes spiritual—have been conceived, debated and applied by researchers and the public. More specifically, it will interrogate the relationship between yoga, psychedelics, South Asian and Eastern religion (as understood and practiced in the USA) and mental health.

A Recent History of Lesbian and Gay Psychology: From Homophobia to LGBT

Forthcoming from Routledge is a new volume exploring psychology’s history with gay and lesbian movements over the past half century. Peter Hegarty’s A Recent History of Lesbian and Gay Psychology: From Homophobia to LGBT is described as:

This ground-breaking text explores the contemporary history of how psychological research, practice, and theory has engaged with gay and lesbian movements in the United States and beyond, over the last 50 years. Peter Hegarty examines the main strands of research in lesbian and gay psychology that have emerged since the de-pathologizing of homosexuality in the 1970s that followed from the recognition of homophobia and societal prejudice.

The author details the expansion of ‘lesbian and gay psychology’ to ‘LGB’ to ‘LGBT psychology’ via its paradigm shifts, legal activism, shifts in policy makers’ and mental health professionals’ goals in regard to sexual and gender minorities. For the first time, the origins of the concepts, debates, and major research programs that have made up the field of LGBT psychology have been drawn together in a single historical narrative, making this a unique resource. A case is made that psychology has only very lately come to consider the needs and issues of transgender and intersex people, and that LGB paradigms need to be critically interrogated to understand how they can be best brokered to bring about social change for such groups.

A Recent History of Lesbian and Gay Psychology will serve as an advanced historical introduction to this field’s recent history and current concerns, and will inform both those who have been a part of this history and students who are new to the field.

Keys to Our Past: Mental Health Film Series Premiere Oct. 4th!

AHP readers in the Toronto area will be interested in the upcoming premiere of a new film series on the history of mental health care in Canada. Keys to Our Past premieres the evening of Wednesday, October 4th at Humber College, the site of the former Lakeshore Psychiatric Hospital. RSVP for the free event here and watch the series trailer above. Full details below.

Keys to Our Past: Mental Health Film Series Premiere
Wednesday, October 4, 2017
7-9pm (doors at 6:30pm)

Join us on the grounds of the former Lakeshore Psychiatric Hospital for the premiere of KEYS TO OUR PAST, an original film series about the history of mental health care in Canada created by the Waypoint Centre for Mental Health Care in partnership with the Lakeshore Grounds Interpretive Centre. Hear about the creation of the asylum system, changes in treatments over time, and the continuing challenge of stigma directly from the writers, producers, and directors of this unique project.

Historical Timeline of Toronto’s Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH)

A timeline detailing the history of what is now the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto, Canada is now available to explore online. First opened in 1850, the mental health centre has been known variously throughout its 167 year history as the Provincial Lunatic Asylum,  Toronto Lunatic Asylum, “999 Queen Street”, and the Queen Street Mental Health Centre. Explore the timeline in full here.