Article ID: CBB000831743

Writing “The Case of Ellen West”: Clinical Knowledge and Historical Representation (2008)


The Case of Ellen West was published by the Swiss psychiatrist, Ludwig Binswanger, in 1944--1945. The case-history depicts the illness and suicide of a young woman who was his patient twenty years earlier. It came to be considered one of the paradigmatic studies of the newly established discipline of Daseinsanalyse, an attempt to synthesize existential philosophy and therapeutic practice. This paper analyzes the case-study, employing newly uncovered archival material to expose important details regarding the treatment of Ellen West (a pseudonym) and the posthumous writing of her case-history. The richness of the archival sources and the various historiographical characteristics they exhibit raise methodological questions about the potentialities and limitations of historical representation. The new data will thus serve as a platform from which to explore and discuss more generally the problems involved in historical reconstruction -- of both subjective experience and clinical knowledge -- and the questions of authorship and intertextuality in the genre of the case-history

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Authors & Contributors
Lanzoni, Susan Marie
Freud, Sigmund
Binswanger, Ludwig
Fichter, Gerhard
Pomerans, Arnold J.
Roberts, Tom
History of Psychiatry
Configurations: A Journal of Literature, Science, and Technology
Science in Context
Past and Present
History of Psychology
Social History of Medicine
Other Press
Cambridge University Press
Duquesne University Press
Zagreb Pabst
Harvard University
Clinical psychology
Mental disorders and diseases
Case studies
Binswanger, Ludwig
Freud, Sigmund
Bion, Wilfred Ruprecht
Rickman, John
Esquirol, Jean Étienne Dominique
Flechsig, Paul Emil
Time Periods
20th century, early
19th century
20th century
20th century, late
21st century
18th century
United States
Great Britain
National Health Service (Great Britain)

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