“‘A more perfect arrangement of plants’: the botanical model in psychiatric nosology, 1676 to the present day,” by Daniel Mason and Honor Hsin. Abstract:
Psychiatric classification remains a complex endeavour; since the Enlightenment, nosologists have made use of various models and metaphors to describe their systems. Here we present the most common model, botanical taxonomy, and trace its history from the nosologies of Sydenham, Sauvages and Linnaeus; to evolutionary models; to the later contributions of Hughlings-Jackson, Kraepelin and Jaspers. Over time, there has been a shift from explicit attempts to pattern disease classification on botanical systems, to a more metaphorical use. We find that changes in the understanding of plants and plant relationships parallel changes in the conceptualization of mental illness. Not only have scientific discoveries influenced the use of metaphor, but the language of metaphor has also both illuminated and constrained psychiatric nosology.
“Eric Wittkower and the foundation of Montréal’s Transcultural Psychiatry Research Unit after World War II,” by Emmanuel Delille. Abstract:
Eric Wittkower founded McGill University’s Transcultural Psychiatry Unit in 1955. One year later, he started the first international newsletter in this academic field: Transcultural Psychiatry. However, at the beginning of his career Wittkower gave no signs that he would be interested in social sciences and psychiatry. This paper describes the historical context of the post-war period, when Wittkower founded the research unit in Montréal. I focus on the history of scientific networks and the circulation of knowledge, and particularly on the exchanges between the French- and English-speaking academic cultures in North America and Europe. Because the history of transcultural psychiatry is a transnational history par excellence, this leads necessarily to the question of the reception of this academic field abroad.
“The politics and practice of Thomas Adeoye Lambo: towards a post-colonial history of transcultural psychiatry,” by Matthew M Heaton. Abstract:
This article traces the career of Thomas Adeoye Lambo, the first European-trained psychiatrist of indigenous Nigerian (Yoruba) background and one of the key contributors to the international development of transcultural psychiatry from the 1950s to the 1980s. The focus on Lambo provides some political, cultural and geographical balance to the broader history of transcultural psychiatry by emphasizing the contributions to transcultural psychiatric knowledge that have emerged from a particular non-western context. At the same time, an examination of Lambo’s legacy allows historians to see the limitations of transcultural psychiatry’s influence over time. Ultimately, this article concludes that the history of transcultural psychiatry might have more to tell us about the politics of the ‘transcultural’ than the practice of ‘psychiatry’ in post-colonial contexts.
“Books,” exclaimed one man to another, apropos of the bookcart’s arrival, “They’re all that hold reason together.”
As part of an exhibit on display at the Homer D. Babbidge Library at the University of Connecticut, doctoral student Mary Mahoney has written and curated an online exhibit about the use of literature as therapy for soldiers during the first World War, titled Books as Medicine: Studies in reading, its history, and the enduring belief in its power to heal.
Guided through sections, the site visitor learns about the (American) Library War Service, Hospital Libraries, Prescribing Books, Contagion (both medical and social), and Science (in which you can use a form from a neuropsychiatric hospital to ‘prescribe’ a book as therapy, and peruse others’ prescriptions).
The May 2017 issue of Social History of Medicine includes two articles that may be of interest to AHP readers. The first piece explores cases of jealousy, madness, and murder in the context of admissions to the Broadmoor Criminal Lunatic Asylum; the second describes how two editions of shell shock films differently incorporated notions about class, gender and nation. Titles, authors, and abstracts follow below.
“‘I am not very well I feel nearly mad when I think of you’: Male Jealousy, Murder and Broadmoor in Late-Victorian Britain,” by Jade Shepherd. Abstract:
This article compares the representations of jealousy in popular culture, medical and legal literature, and in the trials and diagnoses of men who murdered or attempted to murder their wives or sweethearts before being found insane and committed into Broadmoor Criminal Lunatic Asylum between 1864 and 1900. It is shown that jealousy was entrenched in Victorian culture, but marginalised in medical and legal discourse and in the courtroom until the end of the period, and was seemingly cast aside at Broadmoor. As well as providing a detailed examination of varied representations of male jealousy in late-Victorian Britain, the article contributes to understandings of the emotional lives of the working-class, and the causes and representations of working-class male madness.
One hundred years ago World War One set the course for the twentieth century; for the countries that took part nothing would be the same again. In this worldwide series of events with the British Council, we look at the impact of the war from around the world.
The third debate of the series comes from The Imperial War Museum in London as we explore the psychology of war. What drove men to volunteer for the war? What drove them to the edge of sanity when they got there?
Historian and broadcaster Amanda Vickery is joined by a panel of experts and a live audience to explore the mental impact of fighting the war at home and abroad. World War One experts Dan Todman (Queen Mary, University of London) and Michael Roper (University of Essex) are joined by the celebrated cultural historian, Joanna Bourke (Birkbeck, University of London), who presents her specially commissioned essay, Shell Shock and the Shock of Shells.
You can listen to this episode here and explore other episodes in the series here. You can also enrol in the Open University’s accompanying free online course, “World War 1: Trauma and Memory,” here.