The latest issue of International Review of Psychiatry is dedicated to psychiatry in a colonial context.
Titles, authors and abstracts are listed below.
History of psychiatry in West Africa by F. Oyebode (Department of Psychiatry, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK). The abstract reads:
This paper explores the social context of the development of mental asylums in colonial Nigeria. The characteristics of the medical leadership is described, as is the environmental condition of the asylums. The colonial period produced conceptualizations of the African mind and of the pattern and distribution of mental illness in Africans. These conceptualizations are critically examined.
Psychiatry in the East African colonies: A background to confinement by Sloan Mahone (University of Oxford, Oxford, UK). The abstract reads:
This article is concerned with the discipline of psychiatry in colonial East Africa as it emerged out of the crime and disorder problem to become an intellectually significant ‘East African School’ of psychiatry. The process of lunacy certification, in particular, provides a snapshot of the medical and political tensions that existed among the medical establishment, the prison system and the colonial courts, all of whom sought to define collective African behaviour. This historical article utilises archaic terminology, such as ‘lunatic’ or ‘lunacy’, as these categories were in use at the time.
Modern psychiatry in India: The British role in establishing an Asian system, 1858-1947 by J. Mills (Centre for the Social History of Health and Healthcare Glasgow, Department of History, University of Strathclyde, Strathclyde, Glasgow, UK). The abstract reads:
Four broad phases can be traced in the development of modern psychiatry in India. After briefly considering the outline of each of these phases this article will focus its attention on the second and third. It will be argued through tracing the trends in patient admission, treatment regimes and the organisation of the asylum system in these years that the foundations of modern psychiatry were laid in India in the period 1858 to 1947 and that the modern psychiatric system in India as it is today, although it has evolved since Independence in 1947, continues in significant ways to be shaped by the colonial period.
Madmen and specialists: The clientele and the staff of the Lunatic Asylum, Bangalore by Sanjeer Jain and P. Murthy (Department of Psychiatry, National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences, Bangalore, India). The abstract reads:
The history of the asylum has proven to be an invaluable resource for exploring the interface between science, medicine, religion and social and political processes. The definitions of insanity have troubled humans for centuries, as have the methods for treatment. Diverse, and often conflicting, ideological positions are quite common. Documenting the specific histories of the staff and patients of an asylum can thus help us understand the evolution of the physical and the intellectual growth of psychiatry in India. In this endeavour, we have used the records of the Lunatic Asylum, Bangalore (later the All India Institute of Mental Health and subsequently the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences [NIMHANS]) to explore the history of psychiatry in India. The only asylum maintained by a ‘Native Kingdom’, it exemplifies the dynamics of the growth of mental health services in the country. We trace the changes in administrative control of the Asylum, the changes in medical practice and some aspects of the social history of the region. This article traces the history of psychiatry at one institution, which, at the micro level, is a mirror to the understanding of the historical trends of psychiatric services in India.
A brief history of psychiatry in Singapore by B. -Y. Ng (Department of Psychiatry, Singapore General Hospital) and K. -T. Chee (Woodbridge Hospital and Institute of Mental Health, Singapore). The abstract reads:
The development of psychiatric services in Singapore during the last 150 years can be divided into four distinct, albeit overlapping, phases: (1) the origins of the Lunatic Asylum; (2) the interruption caused by the Japanese Occupation, and the post-war years; (3) the training of local psychiatrists and mental health professionals; and (4) the development of general hospital psychiatry and community mental health services. Early psychiatry in Singapore was essentially British psychiatry as an outpost but modified by local conditions. Modern psychiatry in Singapore has its roots in Singapore’s colonial past and is strongly influenced by Western psychiatry. It has come a long way since its humble beginnings when the first mental hospital was established in 1841.
The development of psychiatry in Indonesia: From colonial to modern times by H. Pols (Unit for History and Philosophy of Science, University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia). The abstract reads:
During the colonial period, mental health care policy in the Dutch East Indies was centred on the mental hospital, which provided custodial care. In 1949, independent Indonesia inherited four very large mental hospitals, about 10 acute-care clinics in the major cities, and an agricultural colony. During the 1950s, mental hospital care remained largely custodial. In 1966, the Directorate of Mental Health adopted the three-fold principles of prevention, treatment, and rehabilitation as the foundation of a comprehensive mental health care system. During the 1970s and 1980s, the number of mental hospitals in Indonesia doubled and a variety of treatment methods were introduced. Special attention was given to the care provided by dukuns, or indigenous healers.
Psychiatry and its institutions in Australia and New Zealand: An overview by Catharine Coleborne (Department of History, The University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand) and Dolly MacKinnon (Department of History, University of Melbourne, Australia).