Departmental Bulletin Paper <Varia>Teaching the History of Psychiatry in the 1950s: Henri Ellenberger's Lectures at the Menninger Foundation

Delille, Emmanuel

47pp.109 - 128 , 2017-03 , Institute for Research in Humanities Kyoto University
After beginning his historical work in Switzerland in the 1950s and then continuing it in the United States at the Menninger Foundation, Henri Ellenberger (1905-1993) became the leading historian of "dynamic psychiatry". This expression commonly denotes mental medicine that draws from psychotherapeutic practices and psychological theories to improve our understanding of mental diseases and to cure them. Although still used today, usually in juxtaposition to 19th century alienism or to biological psychiatry, the origin and meaning of this expression are unclear. An unpublished lecture (1956) by Ellenberger on this subject, accompanied by an explanatory introduction, is reproduced here to shed light on Ellenberger's interpretation of that term. This article additionally aims to draw certain parallels and distinctions between Ellenberger, Michel Foucault and George Devereux's teaching in the 1950s. Considering that the history of psychiatry is now a well-established speciality in the academic world, Ellenberger's lecture is also an original document which enables us to trace the professionalization of psychiatric historiography as an academic discipline back to its beginnings after World War II.

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