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Ordning och behandling: psykiatri och sinnessjukvård i Sverige under 1800-talets första hälft
Umeå University, Faculty of Arts, Department of historical, philosophical and religious studies.
1982 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)Alternative title
Order and treatment : psychiatry and the care and treatment of the mentally ill in Sweden during the first half of the 19th century (English)
Abstract [en]

During the first half of the 19th century institutions for the treatment of the insane were established throughout Europe and North America. These institutions were generally the result of government initiative and were founded on a belief that existed in the new psychiatric theories of treatment.

Psychiatry was, at this time, an embryonic science, in which great conflict existed between different theoretical schools of thought, but in which a remarkable concensus existed regarding methods of treatment. Treatment was based on a view of the nature of man inspired by the philosophy of the Enlightenment, in which up-bringing was considered to be able to affect a person's entire character.

In 1823, the Swedish Riksdag voted in favour of the etablishment of treatment hospitals. The background to this decision was the belief that it should be possible to diminish the costs of caring for the poor if mental illness could be treated. However, fears of a general increase in social unrest and philanthropic motives seem also to have been important factors. Sweden's first hospital for the treatment of the insane was established in Vadstena in 1826. Georg Engström (1 795-1 855) became the country's first full-time asylum doctor.

Georg Engström was well-read in German, French and English psychiatric literature, but never himself formulated any psychiatric theory, neither did he write any articles of a principiai nature. His psychiatric activities may, however, be followed in his comprehensive medical journals and regular official reports. Engström saw the roots of mental illness in the existence of a surplus, a shortage, or an inbalance in the energy of the psyche. The cause of illness lay in the patients manner of living and, Engström stressed, in the importance of intense feelings and passions. The essence of treatment lay in the patient's being kept occupied and in his manner of living. Most of the recommendations for methods of treatment contained in the literature were tried out, a number of which — for example, being spun in a revolving chair — were quickly abandoned.

The development of psychiatry and of the care and treatment of the mentally ill during the first half of the 19th century can be seen as a sign of the fact that science itself was developing and becoming paradigmatic. However, it is also possible the view developments from the perspective of the ideology of treatment and to focus on the way in which the philosophy of treatment and its concomitent optimism spread and reformed the old asylum system. Finally, it is also possible to observe developments from a pedagogical perspective, stressing the state's desire for control and order in a situation in which there were fears of an increasing social unrest.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå :: Umeå universitet , 1982. , 252 p.
Umeå studies in the humanities, ISSN 0345-0155 ; 46
Keyword [en]
The history of psychiatry, the history of the mental hospital, 19th century Sweden, Vadstena, Georg Engström (1795-1855)
National Category
History Health Care Service and Management, Health Policy and Services and Health Economy
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-66625ISBN: 91-7174-097-XOAI: diva2:609428
Public defence
1982-05-19, Humanisthuset, hörsal F, Umeå universitet, Umeå, 10:15

Behandlar huvudsakligen Georg Engström och förhållandena vid Vadstena hospital

Available from: 2013-03-05 Created: 2013-02-26 Last updated: 2013-03-06Bibliographically approved

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