Corina-Maria Doboş (Palasan)
Sheldon Lee Gosline
Felix S. von Reiswitz
Self Injury and Psychiatry in Late Nineteenth Century England
My research focuses on the historical study of self-injury in the late nineteenth century. Self-injury (also self-mutilation or self-harm) is often considered a phenomenon of the later twentieth century, when apparently increasing levels, particularly of cutting behaviours in adolescents, led to increased debate over the nature of the behaviour by psychiatrists, as well as widespread press and public attention. The idea that the behaviour is a “new” disorder is supported by the fact that historical studies of self-destructive behaviour tend to concentrate on suicide, avoiding the more complex explanations offered by self-harm today. However, it seems that this was not necessarily the case for Victorian physicians. In the mid-nineteenth century, all patient records at the Bethlem Royal Hospital, for example, enquire whether a patient is “disposed to suicide, or otherwise to self-injury” suggesting that the two were seen as separate, albeit related, symptoms of mental disorder.
By focusing on self harm in the late nineteenth century, a period which saw the beginning of several schools which have proved highly influential to contemporary psychiatry, I aim to provide a new perspective for looking at the development of psychiatry and patient care, as well as illuminating specific social and cultural aspects of the history of medicine, including the diagnosis of hysteria, lingering popular interest in “heroic” treatments such as bloodletting, and the emergence of newly medicalised disorders, such as anorexia nervosa (frequently linked to self-injury today). As with
Corina-Maria Doboş (Palasan)
Scientific representations of the ‘body of the criminal’ in modern Romania (1859-1940)
My research focuses on the manner in which the ‘body of the delinquent’ was constructed within the medicalisation process of the juridical sphere in Romania between 1859 and 1945. By ‘body of the delinquent’, I understand a cultural artefact produced by the corresponding medico-juridical discourses, at the articulations of penitentiary sciences, criminology, psychiatry, legal medicine and eugenics in Romania. Using a methodology indebted to discourse analysis, I will explore the meanings attributed to the human body, illness, and corporeal deformities in scientific texts or in observation reports of Romanian psychiatrists, psychologists, doctors and legal experts in the aforementioned period.
Methodologically, my discourse analysis combines a quantitative exploration of the sources through serialization and statistics, with a qualitative one, a semiotic investigation that seeks to reveal and to explore the tension existing between ‘corporeal’(visible) and ‘non-corporeal’ (invisible) employed by these discourses. This key allows me to explore the interplay between symbol-sign-symptom, in the attempt to reveal the symbolic status of the ‘body of the delinquent’, as produced by the medico-juridical apparatus. The research explores the possibilities that a semiotic reading of the criminological discourse in Romania at the beginning of the 20th century opens in view of a subsequent qualitative assessment. At the same time, as it expands the area of application of medical semiotics to the juridical domain, the envisaged research hopes to contribute to a general history of symptomatology.
Having as focal point the construction of the ‘body of the delinquent’, this type of discourse analysis reveals unexplored dimensions of the medicalisation process in modern Romania. At the same time, my research strives to discuss the usefulness of employing the tool of medical semiotics in the history of criminology.
Corina Doboş (ed.), Politica pronatalistă a regimului Ceauşescu. O perspectivă comparativă/ Pronatalist policies of Ceausescu regime in comparative perspective, Polirom, Iasi, 2010
Corina Dobos, Marius Stan (eds.), Politics of memory in post-communist Europe, Zetabooks, Bucureşti, 2010
Corina Pălăşan, “Domesticating violence in Interwar Romania”, Understanding Violence: Contexts and Portrayals, Marika Guggisberg and David Weir, eds., Inter-Disciplinary Press, Oxford, 2009, p.173-184
Corina Pălăşan, “Caracterul profund restrictiv al politicii nataliste în România comunistă, 1966-1989”/The prohibitive character of population policies in Communist Romania, in R. Ivan (ed.), Transformarea socialistă. Politici ale regimului comunist între ideologie şi administraţie,
Corina Pălăşan, ”Organizarea ştiinţifică a societăţii sau ştiinţele sociale în primii ani ai regimului Ceauşescu, Cazul judeţului Iaşi, 1970-1972” in 2008 I.I.C.C.R Yearbook, Structuri de partid şi de stat în timpul regimului comunist, Polirom, Iasi, 2009
Dr. Kilmer (& Co.): Elucidating Fragments of a Physician and Proprietary
Chance preservation plays an often unacknowledged role in recording history of all levels. In the example of Dr. Kilmer, both physician and proprietary, what we can't know is as much a factor of our understanding as what we can know. We only have partial information of Dr. Kilmer’s qualifications, his medical notes, his theoretical ideas, his corpus of product formulations, his personal communications, the physical environment that he partly constructed, his public record in the press or his financial and legal records. That preservation is due to the complexities of the particular type of record and the chance of preservation. Newspaper records that seem most ephemeral recently have been made searchable and available via computer digitization projects, but this source is still incomplete and there is no certainty that the record of the time was completely accurate. Oral testimony is both vital to understanding, yet sources forget, misunderstood at the time, lie to the interviewer to change the record and eventually die. Such oral evidence is factually unreliable, especially when the source has motives to hide or alter data. Certain intentionally saved court records have become missing through the agencies of fire, theft and misfiling, yet others of a personal nature have a court ordered century seal. Significant medical case history records were sold at auction to untraceable parties, when if only won by the second highest bidder would have ensured their inclusion in this study. The role of the researcher is to make the most of these fragments, while noting their incompleteness, to frame investigations that can be explored with the preserved data and to make inferences based on logical interconnections of such data.
With these limitations in mind, my central question concerns the interconnections between Sylvester Andral Kilmer, M.D. the professional physician and Dr. Kilmer & Company the proprietary medicine business that he began in partnership with a younger brother, Jonas M. Kilmer. Chiefly, I explore difficulties of maintaining a delicate balance between a private medical practice of a specialist physician and the proprietary medicine business his medical products fostered. To explore dangers of lost self identity that arise from overly aggressive marketing, I study the relationships between a physician’s professional and commercial identities within the larger context of changing medical practice from around 1860 to 1930. This question is explored through six types of sources and perspectives, which also frame secondary investigations: medical, herbal, promotional, economic, legal and social.
In specific, this study concerns a frequently adversarial relationship between Sylvester Andral Kilmer, M.D., an “eclectic” irregular physician and Dr Kilmer & Co, the medical business venture that he originated in partnership with a younger brother, Jonas M. Kilmer, and of which he unwittingly lost control through the extensive advertising devised by his nephew Willis Sharpe Kilmer. As such, the research concerns two areas in the history of medicine during this period: the changes in medical training and profession, and the proprietary medicine industry. The changing role of the physician is vital to understand, for what was accepted at the start of his career was considered quackery by its end.
Self-cultivation and the formation of identity in Early Modern China
My research concerns the transmission and adoption of forms of Self-Cultivation and lifestyle regimen (YangSheng) in Ming and Qing China. The field of YangSheng and its conscious self cultivation is located at the nexus of the worlds of medicine, religion and ordinary daily life where individuals seek to negotiate their inner lives with the outer world of shared common reality. YangSheng activities range from choral singing and calligraphy to medicinal foods, meditation and martial arts. Anything, in short, which makes the practitioner feel better. Though functioning at many different level of intention, the concepts which underpin this, most notably the idea of the manipulation Qi, are widely accepted in China as given reality. But at the same time the practice is and always has been continuously reframed by a particular hegemonic discourse. Currently this largely revolves around the nature of "traditional Chinese culture" and just what it means to be Chinese
My study is an inquiry into the reasons for the adoption of practice, the methods adopted, their adaptation from historical sources and the conditions which permit or hinder this, and the outcomes in terms of the effects on the individual's health, well-being, self image and on-going relationship with society at large. Particular areas of interest at the moment are the information contained in novels, stories and lifestyle guides or daily life encyclopaedias (RiYongLeiShu) of these era. I am further interested in the claims and uses made for the developing Martial Arts techniques of the 19 th and early 20 th centuries. My work has a strong multi-disciplinary approach, in particular combining anthropological approaches and insights, in order to illuminate texts that are often wilfully, or otherwise, obscure.
Mapping an obscure continent: Freud's development and use of psychoanalytic interpretation 1890 - 1939
I completed an MSc in Psychoanalytic Developmental Psychology at University College London in 2004 and began my doctoral research under the supervision of Professor Sonu Shamdasani in October 2008. My project concerns the development of interpretation (Deutung) as a central strategy, not only in the psychoanalytic cure, but in the constitution of the psychoanalytic movement as an organisation and as a body of knowledge.
As Freud developed his ideas on the sexual aetiology of the neuroses in the 1890s, interpretation took on an increasingly central role as the means by which the unconscious was to be decoded. In the interpretative act, one set of meanings (the latent) was substituted for another (the manifest), a manoeuvre with a broad array of clinical, rhetorical, political and epistemological potentials. Existing work on psychoanalytic interpretation has relied primarily on Freud's theoretical writings such as Die Traumdeutung (1900) and his celebrated case histories. Analysis of Freud's major correspondences with intellectual collaborators such as Fliess, Ferenczi, Abraham and Jung, many of which have only been available unabridged in recent years, reveals them as equally important sources for this area of study. In Freud's letters, interpretations are not only reported but produced, exchanged and contested to a variety of ends. Following a tradition (Wittgenstein, Austen, Skinner) that highlights the performativity of concepts and texts, my research is concerned not only with the history of psychoanalytic interpretation in its clinical applications, but with the way it was used to, for example, inculpate or exonerate, to forge alliances and discredit opponents, to develop and provide evidence for a purportedly scientific model of mental life, and to map the invisible domain of the Freudian unconscious, constructing it as amenable to objective description.
Desmarais, S. (2006) "A space to float with someone: recovering play as a field of repair in work with parents of late-adopted children". Journal of Child Psychotherapy, 32 (3): 349-64.
Desmarais, S. (2007) "Hard science, thin air and unexpected guests: a pluralistic model of rationality, knowledge and conjecture in child psychotherapy research". Journal of Child Psychotherapy, 33 (3): 283-307.
Desmarais, S. (2009) "Review of Marilyn Lawrence: The Anorexic Mind". Journal of Child Psychotherapy, 35 (1): 101-104.
Negotiating Ovariotomy: Innovation, Intellectual Property and Operative Risk in Victorian surgery (1842 – 1895).
My thesis will bring understandings of innovation, intellectual ownership, priority disputes and risk to the historical analysis of nineteenth century surgery. My primary focus is the ovariotomy operation, which involved opening the abdomen to operate on a suspected diseased ovary. It was the first abdominal operation in Britain to become a regular part of surgical procedure, and its long and complex journey to establishment and respectability is a pertinent case study through which to investigate how surgical knowledge, practice and etiquette were constructed. The domain of surgery and of surgeons was expanding in the mid to late nineteenth century, but by no means everyone equated increased choice about when and where to operate with progress. More than any other operation, the ovariotomy raised complex questions about the fundamental aims of surgery and the objectives of the profession.
My thesis will encompass a broad range of themes, including the complicated etymology of the word 'ovariotomy' and other surgical terms; the understanding and presentation of operative risk, and the ideas of intellectual property and priority that framed ovariotomy and other surgical procedures. At the heart of all my research will be the question: what was the process through which an idea became an operation?
The History of Finding a Cure for Multiple Sclerosis
Following a MSc in the History of Science, Medicine and Technology at Imperial College, Katrina began a Wellcome PhD studentship, in September 2004. The research explores the development of medical knowledge and therapeutic approaches through the historical case study of Multiple Sclerosis (MS) in Britain from the late-nineteenth century to the present. It will, in particular, examine how and to what extent separate yet intertwined communities, including patients, physicians, charitable single-disease groups and healthcare companies, have modulated the financing and direction of MS research programmes and therapeutic practice
Mysteries of the Tongue: the Invention of a Diagnostic Tradition in Chinese Medicine
My PhD, whose working title is "Mysteries of the Tongue: the invention of a diagnostic tradition in Chinese medicine" investigates the circumstances that gave rise to tongue inspection becoming a pervasive element of diagnosis in Chinese traditional medicine. Although a systematised and illustrated text on tongue diagnosis was available from at least the 14th century, case records of renowned physicians working as recently as the 19 th century appear to make little use of it. My research will examine the relationship of tongue diagnosis to the periods of epidemic disease which ravaged southern China during the Ming Dynasty [1368-1644 CE] and the possibility that its emergence as a regional discipline among Southern Qing Dynasty [1644-1911] authors is related to the fact that febrile illness is reflected in rapid changes in the quality of the tongue.
Additionally, I will explore developments in the late Qing and early Republican period, during which time the gaze of the new 'scientific' medicine from the west resonated in the innovation of anatomically correct tongue illustrations in medical texts. Unlike the art of Pulse Diagnosis, the tongue is objective and observable. I will examine how this fact made tongue diagnosis amenable to both biomedicine and the institutional structures of the new Academies of Traditional Medicine being established in the People's Republic.
Having been a practitioner of Chinese traditional medicine for the past 20 years. I am also interested in the relevance of the historical development of diagnostic techniques to contemporary practice - in particular, the ways in which authors of 'new' diagnostic methods within a traditional medicine are in constant dialogue with the theories articulated in classical texts.
William Hewson (1739-1774) and the Craven Street Anatomy School – anatomical teaching in the 18th century
This project evolved from an extraordinary find uncovered during the renovation of Benjamin Franklin House at 36 Craven Street, London in 1997. More than 3000 human and animal bone fragments as well as a large amount of glass slides, ceramics, mercury and other material artefacts were excavated from the basement of the house. In 1999 I wrote my Masters dissertation in Forensic Archaeology on the human remains and found that the material could provide us with an interesting and different insight into private anatomy schools in the latter half of the 18th century.
My current project is a cross-disciplinary study between archaeological and historical evidence of anatomy schools in the latter half of the 18th century, with particular reference to Craven Street, just one of a many anatomy schools in established in London during this period. It was open for only a short period from 1772-1778 and therefore provides a well defined snapshot of anatomical teaching during the time prior to the Anatomy Act of 1832. The aim is to analyse all the archaeological evidence and integrate this into the historical documentation available on the subject. This will hopefully generate a rich and textured account of how anatomical teaching was conducted and how anatomy schools secured sufficient number of cadavers for teaching. There is little doubt that the archaeological evidence will provide an interesting addition into the "unwritten" history, on a subject steeped in controversy at the time.
The 'globulisation' of the hospital wards in nineteenth-century Europe
Having completed a Master's degree at Birkbeck College in 2003-2004 and the Wellcome Trust Centre's own MA programme in 2004-2005, I began research for my doctoral thesis in October 2006 under the supervision of Professor Anne Hardy. My thesis' working title is "The 'globulisation' of the hospital wards in nineteenth century Europe" and consists of a trans-national comparative analysis of the development and work of homeopathic hospitals in London, Madrid and Munich. The important role of the hospital as a setting for the emerging new practice of homeopathy in these different European settings is examined against the backdrop of the larger context of an increasing professionalization and specialization movement across the medical professions. Sources used for this analysis include contemporary medical and lay publications, journals, hospital records and archives as well as statistical reports published by the institutions.
"The 'globulisation' of the hospital ward: a case study of the London Homoeopathic Hospital 1849 -1867", Medizin, Gesellschaft und Geschichte 26 (2007), 131-165.
Felix von Reiswitz and Martin Dinges, 'Homeopathy and Hospitals in History (Seminar Report)', Homoeopathic Links, 21: 1 (2008), 50-52 (full text also downloadable at http://www.igm-bosch.de/download/report/summaryinhh2.pdf)
'The London Homeopathic Hospital, Dr Frederick Quin's Legacy and an appeal on behalf of CAMLIS', Simillimum Vol. 21, Summer/Spring (2008), 147-148.
'Enfermar Homeopáticamente en el siglo XIX: El caso del London Homœopathic Hospital' in Teresa Ortíz Gómez et al (coord.), La experiencia de enfermar en perspectiva histórica (Granada: EUG, 2008): 479-482.
Health, Perfection and Transcendence: Daoist transmissions of medical knowledge in Early Medieval China.
I came to the Wellcome Centre in September 2007 after completing an MA and PhD coursework in Chinese religious history at Indiana University, Bloomington. I received my BA Hons in English Literature and Philosophy from the University of East Anglia in Norwich, and have a DiplAC from Ruseto School of Chinese Medicine in Boulder, CO.
My PhD thesis focuses on medico-religious practices in the Zhengao 真誥, a late 4th century collection of revealed scripture, and highlights the fluid boundaries between orthodox medicine, religious Daoism, cults of transcendence and other traditions in the Six Dyasties period (222-589). I will be examining the kinds of knowledge about the body in circulation during this time, who wielded that knowledge, and the kinds of power it afforded: the power to heal; to attain transcendence; to perform rituals; to contest imperial authority. I also discuss the aggregation of technical and theoretical knowledge into broad repertoires of techniques and discourses, and that the choices that actors made from available techniques better informs us about local history and the interactions between organized religion, orthodox medicine, and local cults and cultures.
I have a strong interest in fieldwork and practitioner-oriented perspectives, and have spent a number of years in Taiwan and Hong Kong and some time in India. I like to watch Daoist ritual, and am developing a secondary project on the modern construction of Daoist Medicine 道教醫學 in China. I am currently a visiting PhD student at the Needham Research Institute in Cambridge and will move to Academia Sinica in Taipei in September.
Forthcoming “Medical Inscriptions in the Longmen caves” in Imagining Chinese Medicine, Vivienne Lo ed. Co-authored with Zhang Ruixian 張瑞賢, Wang Jiacai 王家蔡.
Forthcoming, 2010 “Chinese Medicine” in Mark Jackson ed., The Oxford Handbook of the History of Medicine, Oxford University Press. Co-authoured with Vivienne Lo.
Forthcoming, 2009 Review: “Daoism and Medicine” Gai Jianmin 蓋建民 Daojiao yixue 道教醫學; Asian Medicine.
06/02/2009 Review: “Hazy Days” Hermann Tessenow, and Paul Unschuld, A Dictionary of the Huangdi neijing suwen. p. 25, Times Literary Supplement, London.
10/05 Review: Frances Wood: The Silk Road:Two Thousand Years in the Heart of Asia, (University of California Press, 2002). Indiana University East Asian Studies Center Newsletter, October, 2004.
Since coming to the centre, I have also organized a number of events and research seminars, in either primary or supporting roles:
Seminars and Lectures
William James and Psychopathology: Degeneration and Regeneration
Neurasthenia in Imperial Japan, 1867-1945.
Yu-Chuan Wu is a consultant psychiatrist at Cardinal Tien Hospital in Taiwan. He completed his MA in history from Tsing Hua university in Taiwan in 2005 and joined the centre in September 2007 for his PhD. His study intends to explore the introduction of the 'diseases of nerve', including neurasthenia, nervousness and neurosis, into East Asia through Japan during the period. The particular interest lies in the translation of the concepts of nerve and its ailments into the traditional body culture, and the invention of the so-called Japanese-style psychotherapy, Morita therapy, used to treat neurotic patients.