Consequently, many have postulated that those actors who did manage to write or speak were exceptional anomalies save for a few icons such as Daniel Paul Schreber, Charlotte Perkins Gilman and Antonin Artaud. What to make of all this body of work? In , Swiss historian Flurin Condrau offered a rather provocative answer to this question. Unlike other areas of research, such as the history of medical sciences or the history of disease, not much further methodological reflection has taken place and this has left the history of patients intellectually less stimulating than other research fields.
According to Condrau, the history of patients mostly gave birth to disparate collections of individual cases. These myriad personal stories, although unique and at times interesting, are all enclosed in their singularity. To be sure, a number of the aforementioned remarks are justified with regard to the history of psychiatry. And the charm of the source certainly contributes to this phenomenon. In other words, calling for history from below and actually accomplishing it in any systematic and constructive fashion are different enterprises. He did not elaborate as to how his successors should go about this.
Neither did the content of his Social History of Madness indicate any concrete methodological paths. Instead, it consisted in a thematic presentation of diaries and autobiographies written by famous institutionalised individuals: Vaslav Nijinsky, Robert Schumann, etc. In recent years, researchers from various fields have brought fresh intellectual and methodological perspectives to this discussion by turning to different corpi. Some have analysed the experiences of more ordinary patients, notably through medical files 64 and asylum newspapers. In the process, he revisits the historical case study.
The above suggests that there lurks, even in the most extravagant of voices, historical material that ought to be analysed and conceptually reflected upon. But the reverse is also true. In fact, we could even argue that patients have never talked more than after having been reduced to silence. By creating asylums and large-scale inmate populations, psychiatric modernity has also rendered this population more visible. It has created a collective identity. Some eg. It should, on the contrary, be interactively included with other madness discourses.
The time, then, has come to write new scripts. We ought to renew our sources beyond the textual to include different modes of expression. We ought to extend chronological and geographical boundaries. We ought to realise that patient-centred narratives answer different aims and take several forms. We ought to understand how madwomen and madmen have mattered in the past to better understand how their perspective can also be relevant in the present. These real and imagined stories of mental illness help throw light on the complex ways in which psychiatry has been construed, explained and fictionalised since its inception.
How have individual subjects influenced the construction of clinical categories? How have patients and indeed their loved ones come to play a decisive role in effecting medical and extra-medical changes? In what ways have patients chosen to voice their experience? How have their demands been met by the legal system? And how have various methods of treatment been accepted or rejected by those actors in differing social, cultural and political settings? The five contributions below deal with the above topics from resolutely inter-disciplinary perspectives.
This neologistic expression refers to someone who has been misidentified as exhibiting symptoms of mental illness and admitted to a mental hospital. It also underlines the complex nature of patient agency against a rapidly shifting social, cultural, political and medical landscape. Perhaps most importantly, Wu shows that these various voices should not be considered subaltern narratives. Instead, the actors of bei jingshenbing have played an important part in transforming mental health policies and lay opinions about psychiatry.
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Their activities should thus be read not as tangential accounts but as powerful contributions to a new cultural phenomenon. This has given rise to a disproportionate focus on the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. This is largely due to the dominance of such fields as Science and Technology Studies in which the focus tends to be less on human subjects than on their chemical counterparts eg. Also highlighted in this volume is the multidimensionality of asylum life.
By centring on two patients at Bethlem Hospital who actively participated in the formulation of contemporary medical discourse, Sarah Chaney leads us to reconsider a story that we thought thoroughly exhausted. Chaney shows that, rather than being merely passive, patients sometimes had input into the way madness was represented and understood.
Chaney analyses the impact of this distinction on asylum experiences and on therapeutic relations. Both of her protagonists seemingly accepted certain elements of the patient role while rejecting others. Both also, however, took on additional identities and even contributed to medical debates over the ways in which madness could be defined and represented. There is no such thing as a single history of asylums, the author reminds us; just like there is no such thing as a single history of patients.
But Krauss is an unlikely patient, for he never perceived himself as mentally ill. His story would be interpreted as schizophrenia only upon the rediscovery of his manuscript in That tome makes for unusually rich historical reading. It also brings to mind that other nineteenth-century narrator of paranoia — Daniel Paul Schreber, whose Memoirs of my Mental Illness was made famous by Freud at the dawn of the twentieth century.
The author shows a Krauss in constant negotiation with each physician he consulted; a Krauss who strove to be fully heard without surrendering his sense of dignity. Rather, the individual is embedded within a cultural network that shapes conceptions of self, illness and identity. Capturing these polyphonic interactions became easier with the introduction of new recording techniques.
Also highlighted here are the transnational intellectual networks in the rapidly changing interwar psychiatric scene. The unusually rich material provided by the Gartnavel case notes thus allows the historian to undertake an in-depth content analysis of those interactions. Yet it also begs some fundamental questions. How un filtered are these notes? And, indeed, do they perhaps reveal more about the medical staff than they do about the patients themselves?
This special issue, then, is itself a symptom. A symbolic and protean space, it has allowed for complex variations of experience. In Bedlam late-nineteenth-century drawings, the patients depict themselves as birds in a giant dome circled by the asylum staff. In recent Mad activist rhetoric, this metaphor of entrapment has given way to individuals taking wing towards freedom…lest they fly too close to the sun.
Historians, of course, have different aims from those of Mad activists. And this is perhaps where it becomes most relevant to re-examine such tales. Roy Porter, W. Stephen Jacyna and Stephen T. Dr Steven E. Using solely twenty-first-century alternatives, in our opinion, is not only anachronistic but also does not reflect the complexity that these culturally charged words convey.
Moreover, many patients — past and present — have appropriated these terms to evoke their multiple meanings. For a bibliography of recent first-person narratives of madness, see Jayasree Kalathil ed. They have to give up on telling the stories which have never been told and study the ones which have been told too often. See also, eg. Most of these are cited by Porter throughout his oeuvre, though not all in his article.
Porter, interview in The Lancet , , For additional references on this movement, see note The book also includes texts from the version that differed significantly from the edition. Accordingly, he erased this quote from later versions.
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Porter, op. Condrau, op. Porter, Social History , op. Dale Peterson ed.
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Geschichte, Selbstzeugnisse und Theorien von der Antike bis See eg. For a representative example of this new scholarship, see, eg. It was historians of the asylum who first explored these issues; see, eg. The more recent inclusion of nursing staff, outpatients, family members and therapeutic technologies is discussed below. Jennifer M. We will send you an SMS containing a verification code. Please double check your mobile number and click on "Send Verification Code". Enter the code below and hit Verify. Free Shipping All orders of Cash on Delivery Pay for your order in cash at the moment the shipment is delivered to your doorstep.
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1. The Patient’s Turn
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