The Politics of the Mind III. Connections and trajectories / Politiques du psychisme III. Connexions et trajectoires
Call for papers/Appel à communications
Conference organized by/Conférence organisée par: Grégory Dufaud (IEP Lyon-LARHRA), Nicolas Henckes (CNRS-CERMES3), Marianna Scarfone (Université de Strasbourg-Sage)
Dates : December 2018/6-7 décembre.
Deadline for abstracts/Date d’envoi des propositions de communication: 10 June/juin 2018
Version française ci-dessous
While the notion of mental hygiene emerged in the 19thcentury, it became popular in the first third of the 20thcentury in most European and North American countries. It described what appeared as a new way of problematizing psychiatric practices and knowledge as well as their politicization. Mental hygiene was at first a reform project based on the promotion of both alternative ways of organizing assistance and preventative practices in psychiatry. These perspectives became reality with the creation of new psychiatric institutions by psychiatric reformers. In 1908 the psychiatrist Gustav Kolb created an “open” outpatient service for mad people in Bavaria in order to help patients reintegrate society. This service was conceived of as an addition to the asylum: outpatient treatment aimed at extending the treatments received during institutionalization. Beyond institutions, mental hygiene movements also promoted practices of prevention for various populations or problems: children, or mental hygiene at work for instance. In this way they contributed to the expansion of both the professional jurisdiction of mental health workers and to the institutionalization of new public policies.
Mental hygiene did not only address psychiatric practices however: among its projects was also the scientific organization of the society. This project had several intellectual sources. In France, psychiatrist Edouard Toulouse’s mental prophylaxis was a dimension of a more general biocratic conception, which aimed at promoting a scientific government of the country. Toulouse’s ideas were inspired by positivism and evolutionism as well as republicanism. More generally, the development of mental hygiene reflected the role played in European societies by scientific and political utopias inspired by the ideals of social reform as well as by totalitarian ideologies.