Was there a Communist psychiatry in Cold War Eastern Europe?
Lecture by Sarah Marks (University of Cambridge)
Wednesday 23 March, 1pm (Arts Two: Room 3.16)
Queen Mary University of London
Lunch is available from 12.45, and the lecture starts at 1pm.
Until very recently, much of the academic literature to address the psy-disciplines in Communist Eastern Europe has reduced the story to one of three possible narratives. Firstly, the satellite states were cut off from international developments and subject to top-down imposition of dogmatic Pavlovian doctrines from Moscow, which stifled freedom and arrested scientific developments (Roger Smith, 1998; 2013). Secondly, the Communist Party elites bluntly abused the institutional power of psychiatry for punitive purposes (Bloch and Reddaway, 1984; Van Voren, 2010). Thirdly, the psy-disciplines did not have a significant role to play under Communism because such ‘technologies of the self’ are forms of governmentality found specifically in liberal democracies, and thus psychotherapeutic knowledge and practices were only likely to emerge after the fall of the Berlin Wall, once the transition to Western models of democratic governance had begun (Nikolas Rose, 1992). All three are, to an extent, Cold War mythologies, based on very limited use of primary source material, which have obscured the rich and varied ways in which the psy-professions theorized and treated mental disorder in the region. This paper will draw together cases from my own archival research on East Germany and Czechoslovakia, in comparison with the findings of contributors to Psychiatry in Communist Europe (Savelli and Marks, 2015), to discuss the ways in which Communism did - and did not – shape psychiatric research and practice behind the Iron Curtain.
All welcome, lunch will be provided. Please book for catering purposes on firstname.lastname@example.org
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