This symposium on current research into the history of psychiatry in the Low Countries will take place in Amsterdam, it is organised in collaboration with the Descartes Centre.
Dealing with 'madness'
The loss of the capacity for rational thought, a sense of alienation from the world, overwhelming emotional turmoil, feelings of inexplicable sorrow and despair that people can get: they are all part of our universal human experience. But how people deal with it is both determined by social and cultural conventions and hence, by the civilization they live in. Dealing with 'madness' therefore varies in different places and periods. Today psychological problems are usually (but not always) evaluated through a medical-psychiatric scope, but people also tried to indicate madness by linking it to religious and supernatural experience, or treated them based on psychological insights. Moreover, the struggle with madness has been and still is an important theme in artistic expressions in literature, theater, film and art.
This symposium aims to evaluate this history of madness thus far in the Netherlands, paying attention to both current researches as well as to the history of this fascinating specialism. Focusing on ongoing research in the field, this symposium will demonstrate how the history of madness has evolved and reflects on several developments such as interdisciplinary crossovers and new approaches. Showcasing that the history of madness can be used not both by medical historians and a wider group of researchers to answer questions about social, cultural and political developments in all civilizations.