Université de Strasbourg

The rise of modern psychiatry

Madness goes downtown. Strasbourg and Berlin in the rise of modern psychiatry

USIAS fellows: Christian Bonah and Volker Hess

Madness is often described as the reverse side of becoming modern. When housing, labour, transports and communication are transformed in the decades between 1870-1930 - representing the “laboratory of the modern”- being insane or normal was redefined by the rise of modern psychiatry. Modern refers here to psychiatry where confinement was replaced by ambulant care, medical services and treatment – particularly visible in Berlin.

But the capital reorganization had a blueprint. To understand transformations in Strasbourg between 1870 and 1900, we will investigate similarities and differences, transfers and counter-transfers between Berlin-Strasbourg and more widely Germany-France in the rise of modern psychiatry and urban environments between 1870-1945. The joint project will study the embedding of psychiatric institutions such as policlinic outpatient care in the new urban topologies, the differentiation of psychiatric hospitalization, the shaping of new disease categories, and the rise of ambulant care and treatment.

The project connects with the longstanding excellence in psychiatry at the University of Strasbourg, and its corresponding wealth of archival materials. The project proposes a conceptual and theoretical renewal of assembling history of science and medicine with general urban history and geography, city planning and architecture..


Les archives

France 2030