Article ID: CBB368791802

‘Psychosis of civilization’: a colonial-situated diagnosis (2021)


In the late 1930s, when colonial psychiatry was well established in the Maghreb, the diagnosis ‘psychosis of civilization’ appeared in some psychiatrists’ writings. Through the clinical case of a Libyan woman treated by the Italian psychiatrist Angelo Bravi in Tripoli, this article explores its emergence and its specificity in a differential approach, and highlights its main characteristics. The term applied to subjects poised between two worlds: incapable of becoming ‘like’ Europeans – a goal to which they seem to aspire – but too far from their ‘ancestral habits’ to revert for a quiet life. The visits of these subjects to colonial psychiatric institutions, provided valuable new material for psychiatrists: to see how colonization impacted inner life and to raise awareness of the long-term socio-political dangers.

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Authors & Contributors
Keller, Richard Charles
Zorzanelli, Rafaela Teixeira
Akavia, Naamah
Chiang, Howard Hsueh-Hao
Smith, Matthew
Gourévitch, Michel
History of Psychiatry
História, Ciências, Saúde---Manguinhos
Science in Context
Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences
Social History of Medicine
Histoire des Sciences Médicales
University of Chicago Press
Palgrave Macmillan
Harvard University Press
Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, New Brunswick
Clinical psychology
Mental disorders and diseases
Case studies
Binswanger, Ludwig
Kinsey, Alfred C.
Esquirol, Jean Étienne Dominique
George III, King of England
Freud, Sigmund
Flechsig, Paul Emil
Time Periods
19th century
20th century, early
20th century
20th century, late
18th century
United States
North Africa
Great Britain

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