mardi 16 février 2016

Archives biographiques de la psychiatrie

Biographical Archive of Psychiatry

After more than two years of development the Biographische Archiv der Psychiatrie (Biographical Archive of Psychiatry - BIAPSY) is online and recently updated. An initial compilation of 130 biographical entries featuring influential individuals from the history of psychiatry is now available at The innovative online archive was developed at the Hochschule Niederrhein under the supervision of Professor Dr. Burkhart Brückner of the Faculty of Applied Social Sciences. The project was made possible by a funding programme for the humanities and social sciences offered by the state of North Rhine-Westphalia.

On the one hand the online archive features famous individuals from the world of science, on the other it also includes patients and members of their families. "In accordance with the principle of a ‘history from below’, we are also documenting the viewpoints of patients with psychiatric experiences. "We therefore combine the historiography of the psychiatric profession with patient-centred historiography," Brückner comments, describing the participatory approach of his team.

Which role do the patients play in the history of psychiatry? Which famous individuals were the most influential? Why does a person become a psychiatrist or psychotherapist? These are typical questions that were at the centre of focus during compilation of the short biographies. "We seek to address these questions in their respective socio-historical contexts," Brückner reports. "Particular attention was paid to ensuring scientific quality. Our sources and texts comply with the medical historical standards," he continues.

The earliest entry in the online archive presents the Late Medieval English mystic Margery Kempe. However, the emphasis is on individuals from the 19th and 20th centuries. Another criterion: Only individuals who have been deceased for at least two years are included. So far, around 40 percent of the existing biographies have also been translated into English.

The most famous people featured in the archive include Vincent van Gogh, Sigmund Freud, Karl Jaspers, Carl Rogers and Emil Kraepelin. The patients’ perspective is documented in articles such as those on the 17th-century Englishman James Carcasse, the 19th-century German author Friedrich Krauß or Anna Pauline Bleuler, the sister of the Swiss physician Eugen Bleuler (who coined the term "schizophrenia" in 1911 and was both a professional and a relative). Brückner also cites the Italian Adalgisa

Conti: "From 1914 onwards, she spent a total of 65 years at an asylum in Arezzo; her fate is a typical example of the conditions in such institutions until the reforms of the 1970s."

There are plans to extend the archive in the future. "BIAPSY is open for suggestions and other contributions. The project is now off the ground and everyone who feels competent can submit a suitable biography. We will then review the texts and ensure that they meet certain quality standards, after which they will be made available online," explains Brückner." We may also be looking for private donations or applying for new research funding that will allow us to extend the Biographical Archive of Psychiatry," Professor Brückner continues.

Press contact: Tim Wellbrock, University Communications Office of the Hochschule Niederrhein: Phone: +49 (0) 2151 822 2934.

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