Stories of violence, danger, and men out of control
Times article both critiqued sensation journalism and reflected general feelings about Victorian lunatics. For those with little first-hand experience of mental disease, media stories would have been the most likely, and the most frequent, encounter with the issues of insanity. These stories helped shape cultural tropes of madness. While the most common types of article written on madness were narrative updates on local asylums, these would only attract the interest of
of the hygienist movement or the rise of mass
media, their findings do not always fully apply to the Belgian
sociopolitical context. From existing case studies we know that
local specificities are crucial to understand the transformation of
medical knowledge. For example, Peeters has suggested that humoral
representations of the body adhered to the worldview of many
Challenging the assumption that the stigma attached to mental illness stems from public ignorance and irresponsible media coverage, this book examines mental healthcare workers’ efforts to educate the public in Britain between 1870 and 1970. It covers a period which saw the polarisation of madness and sanity give way to a belief that mental health and illness formed a continuum, and in which segregative care within the asylum began to be displaced by the policy of community care. The book argues that the representations of mental illness conveyed by psychiatrists, nurses and social workers were by-products of professional aspirations, economic motivations and perceptions of the public, sensitive to shifting social and political currents. Sharing the stigma of their patients, many healthcare workers sought to enhance the prestige of psychiatry by emphasising its ability to cure acute and minor mental disorder. However, this strategy exacerbated the stigma attached to severe and enduring mental health problems. Indeed, healthcare workers occasionally fuelled the stereotype of the violent, chronically-ill male patient in an attempt to protect their own interests. Drawing on service users’ observations, the book contends that current campaigns, which conflate diverse experiences under the label mental illness, risk trivialising the difficulties facing people who live with severe and enduring mental disturbance, and fail to address the political, economic and social factors which fuel discrimination.
In Psychoanalysis and the family, Richard Bates reveals the striking range and extent of the influence of Françoise Dolto (1908–88) – child psychoanalyst and France’s leading authority on parenting and family dynamics from the 1970s onwards. Against the backdrop of rapid economic, social and cultural change, Dolto emerged as a new, reassuring, national presence. Seen as a national treasure, her views proved influential on a wide range of issues linked to psychology, parenting, education, gender, sexuality, bioethics and children’s culture and rights. Dolto claimed the mantle of a progressive, innovative expert who swept away outdated concepts – but Bates demonstrates that her ideas in fact had deep roots in right-wing, anti-feminist currents. Dolto used her media platforms and the cultural authority of psychoanalysis to ensure that her psychoanalytic vision affected the whole French nation and was implanted in a variety of institutional settings. Bates shows how her vision had lasting repercussions, in areas ranging from the treatment of autism to the organisation of children’s centres. In demonstrating Dolto’s importance, this highly original, thoroughly researched book makes an essential contribution to historical understanding of twentieth-century French society. It forces a reassessment of the place of psychoanalysis in French social history, showing that its true significance lay well beyond the academic seminar or the consulting room.
Out of his Mind is a study of the consequences of a diagnosis of insanity for men, their families, their friends, and the culture at large. Studying the madman allows for an exploration of the cultural expectations of male behaviour, how men responded to those norms in their lived experiences, and what defined the bare minimums of acceptable male behaviour. Men’s authority in society was rooted in control over dependants within their household and beyond; without that power, the foundation of their manhood was in question. As such, madness touched on a key tenet of nineteenth-century masculinity: control. Building on accounts from sufferers, doctors, government officials, journalists, and novelists, Out of his Mind offers insight into the shifting anxieties surrounding men in mental distress. Exploring everything from wrongful confinement panics, to cultures of shame and stigma, to fears of degeneration, this study makes an important contribution to histories of gender and medicine. This text puts the madman at the centre of the history of Victorian masculinity and helps us better understand the stigma of men’s mental illness that continues to this day.
cultural landscape. Her numerous books were widely read and studied. Her daily fifteen-minute
broadcast on the France Inter radio station was a source of ‘hope and love’ for
thousands of listeners. 2 Dolto appeared
all over the media, commenting on a wide range of issues connected to psychology, parenting,
education, gender, sexuality, family, bioethics and children’s literature, culture and
rights. She was seen as a French national treasure. Across France, hundreds of public
institutions were named in her honour, from schools
psychoanalytic knowledge and the Freudian legacy in France.
Several chapters condemned Dolto in particular. 10
Other critics took issue less with Dolto personally so much as the use made
of her ideas, methods and reputation by her successors, imitators and disciples – the
sort of people denounced by Élisabeth Roudinesco on Dolto’s centenary in 2008
as the ‘idolaters [who] keep on sanctifying her’. 11 For Dominique Mehl, Dolto’s major
legacy was to inaugurate an entire genre of mass media intervention by psychoanalysts, while
l’enfant paraît (‘When the baby comes’ or ‘When the
child appears’) broadcasts on France Inter in 1976–78. These broadcasts
transformed her public profile and occasioned her retirement as an analyst, since her fame,
she felt, affected her ability to be a neutral presence for clients. The Lorsque
l’enfant paraît recordings, and the letters sent in by listeners, open a
window onto both how Dolto sought to use the media to disseminate certain messages, and more
broadly onto the concerns of French parents and
an increased sense that people needed new sources of advice and information on how to handle
the problems of daily life. Questions of child-rearing, in particular, were seen as being of
societal importance if future generations were to avoid succumbing to totalitarian politics.
An array of doctors, clinics, authors and media figures sought to respond, and often drew on
psychoanalysis in doing so. A notable example in the United States was Benjamin
Spock’s Baby and Child Care (1946), which used psychoanalytic ideas to
Audiences and stakeholders in the history of medicine
Solveig Jülich and Sven Widmalm
look at how media of all sorts have been used to inform, persuade, educate and
entertain a diversity of audiences about health and medicine. For scholars
working with historical materials relating to intersections between medicine
and the media, the question of audience impact has most often been treated with
a dose of scepticism of whether it is possible to know what people thought and
felt in the past.