Work, psychiatry and society, <i>c</i>. 17502015

Edited by Waltraud Ernst

Publication date:

01 January 2016

Length of book:

392 pages


Manchester University Press



ISBN-13: 9780719097690

This book offers the first systematic critical appraisal of the uses of work and work therapy in psychiatric institutions across the globe, from the late eighteenth to the end of the twentieth century. Contributors explore the daily routine in psychiatric institutions and ask whether work was therapy, part of a regime of punishment or a means of exploiting free labour. By focusing on mental patients' day-to-day life in closed institutions, the authors fill a gap in the history of psychiatric regimes. The geographical scope is wide, ranging from Northern America to Japan, India and Western as well as Eastern Europe, and the authors engage with broad historical questions, such as the impact of colonialism and communism and the effect of the World Wars. The book presents an alternative history of the emergence of occupational therapy and will be of interest not only to academics in the fields of history and sociology but also to health professionals.
'Overall, this volume is an eye-opener. It breaks new ground in clarifying questions of history of psychiatry by focusing on the role of work in mental-health institutions. It contains some first-rate chapters for historians of medicine and psychiatry, social and economic historians and sociologists. It will also inform students, healthcare pro­fessionals and, hopefully, the administrators of medical institutions.' Felicitas Söhner, Universität Ulm (DE), Gesnerus 73 May 2016 'For all the sophistication of the arguments put forward, the introduction and the chapters that follow are very easy to read, making them accessible to a wide audience and hopefully a core text for students being introduced to the history of asylums.' Pamela Dale, University of Exeter, The Economic History Review 'In this volume, Waltraud Ernst has brought together 17 essays with great skill. Together, they demonstrate how 'work' with its myriad meanings has different significance - treatment, punishment, reform, exploitation, empowerment - within shifting conditions brought about by colonialism, revolution, war, economic change, and new medical ideologies. The collection makes a great temporal and geographical sweep across the entire modern period to the present day, addressing attitudes and praxis in North America, Japan, India, and Western and Eastern Europe.It will be of interest to historians of medicine and psychiatry, labour and economics, as well as to sociologists, anthropologists, and healthcare professionals.' Louise Hide, Birkbeck, UCL, History of the human sciences, November 2016 'Work, Psychiatry, and Society, c. 1750-2015, marks a welcome advance in the historiography of madness by placing psychiatricpatients' work as a topic of central importance that deserves further scholarly attention.' Geoffrey Reaume, Isis Journal, June 2017 'Edited books based on conference papers (like this one) can suffer from a certain lack of focus. In this case, however, Professor Ernst has drawn together 17 chapters which relate well to each other and share underlying themes. She has done this partly by including contributions from authors beyond the conference participants - a strategy that deserves to be used more widely.' Cultural and Social History