Matthew M. Heaton
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Decolonizing, nationalizing and globalizing the history of psychiatry
From colonial to cross-cultural psychiatry in Nigeria
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This chapter examines the development of mental health services during decolonization in Nigeria from the 1950s to 1970s, focusing particular attention on the life and work of Thomas Adeoye Lambo, Nigeria’s first European-trained psychiatrist of indigenous background. By connecting his psychiatric research and practice to local cultural expectations, nationalist developmentalist agendas and international programmes in cross-cultural psychiatric research, Lambo helped to cement professional psychiatry in Nigeria in ways that expanded upon the significantly underdeveloped colonial model. However, at the same time he adapted the European paradigm to better fit local circumstances, and those adaptations in turn recirculated into the global discourse, effecting a globalization of the way psychiatrists around the world thought about the nature and treatment of mental illness. The chapter argues that the development of mental health infrastructure in Nigeria was therefore local, national and international in ways that allow for more nuanced historical studies of the links between colonial psychiatry and contemporary global mental health agendas.

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