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Psychosocial Studies and Psychiatry

An Awkward History

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The Palgrave Handbook of Psychosocial Studies
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Abstract

This chapter sets out the case that the study of history should be regarded as fundamental to the psychosocial project. Although Psychosocial Studies can make good claims to be transdisciplinary, it was not simply born in the space between disciplines but has important roots within the discipline of psychiatry. By examining some particular events important to the emergence of psychiatry in the nineteenth century, it is argued that this historical perspective can help us understand what has shaped some of the fundamental conundrums we face about how to think about the mind and its relationship to the social world. Psychiatry was a different form of discipline from its sociological and psychological cousins that emerged in universities and learned societies, because psychiatry developed in worlds of practice. To understand the history of ideas in psychiatry, they need to be understood not simply as ideas as they appear in books and journals, but ideas that are used and shaped in the world in which they live. The ideas that we have about the mind and how it relates to the social world have been importantly shaped by psychiatric practice, shaped in the courtrooms, the newspapers, the asylums, and in the novels that use and play with those ideas.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    This became the Journal of Mental Science in 1858 and eventually the British Journal of Psychiatry in 1961.

  2. 2.

    Sir Alexander Morison, visiting physician at Bethlem; William Hutchinson, physician at the Royal Lunatic Asylum in Glasgow. Mr. William McClure, a surgeon, and Dr. Sutherland and Dr. Bight were also present.

  3. 3.

    Court transcripts come from Old Bailey Session Papers: OBP, February 1843, trial of Daniel M’Naghten (t18430227-874).

  4. 4.

    The Telegraph leader, quoted in Derby Mercury Dec 16, 1863: 3–4.

  5. 5.

    Subsequently published in the Asylum Journal and The Lancet in September 1868.

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Jones, D.W. (2022). Psychosocial Studies and Psychiatry. In: Frosh, S., Vyrgioti, M., Walsh, J. (eds) The Palgrave Handbook of Psychosocial Studies. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-61510-9_23-1

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