Socialism, Society, and the Struggle Against Mental Illness: Preventative Psychiatry in Post-war Yugoslavia

  • Mat Savelli
Part of the Mental Health in Historical Perspective book series (MHHP)


Coming out of World War Two, the governments of Communist Europe almost unanimously emphasised the need to shift towards preventative medicine, including within the field of mental health. For Yugoslavia, health planners faced little choice in the matter; a shocking shortage of practitioners combined with the drive towards industrialisation to force psychiatrists to maximise their minimal resources. In short, prevention was a must. Over time, however, the justification for preventative psychiatry would shift. Prior to 1948, mental health care workers could point to Soviet healthcare services as a guiding light in their efforts to refocus care. After Tito’s break with Stalin in that year, however, practitioners turned instead towards the ideas of the British social psychiatry movement to legitimise their attempts to stop mental disorder before it began. This paper analyses the shift in rationale for prevention and examines key debates in three subfields: addiction services, military psychiatry and suicide prevention.

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mat Savelli
    • 1
  1. 1.McMaster UniversityHamiltonCanada

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