Culture & History Digital Journal, Vol 2, No 1 (2013)

Another History for Another Psychiatry. The Patient’s View

Rafael Huertas
Instituto de Historia, CCHS-CSIC, Madrid, Spain


This article aims to summarise, in the first instance, some of the historiographical trends which have built a “critical” history of psychiatry from the 1960s onwards. Thereafter, it will demonstrate, with suitably significant examples, how methods and discourses were being refined and updated, before reaching a proposal for a new cultural history of psychiatry and subjectivity. In our analysis, special emphasis is placed on the “patient's view”. This renders necessary the task of identifying little consulted sources, such as the writings of the mad, and the incorporation of interdisciplinary hermeneutic tools, including, most notably, those taken from cultural studies and, in particular, written culture. Finally, it will offer a reflection on the epistemic role that this historiographical approach could play in the construction of new ways of understanding mental health, such as that represented by so-called post-psychiatry.


historiography; cultural history; psychiatry; madness; subjectivity; cultural studies

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