Diagnosing Literary Genius: A Cultural History of Psychiatry in Russia, 1880-1930 [NOOK Book]

Overview

The vital place of literature and the figure of the writer in Russian society and history have been extensively studied, but their role in the evolution of psychiatry is less well known. In Diagnosing Literary Genius: A Cultural History of Psychiatry in Russia, 1880-1930, Irina Sirotkina explores the transformations of Russian psychiatric practice through its relationship to literature. During this period, psychiatrists began to view literature as both an indicator of the nation's mental health and an integral ...

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Diagnosing Literary Genius: A Cultural History of Psychiatry in Russia, 1880-1930

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Overview

The vital place of literature and the figure of the writer in Russian society and history have been extensively studied, but their role in the evolution of psychiatry is less well known. In Diagnosing Literary Genius: A Cultural History of Psychiatry in Russia, 1880-1930, Irina Sirotkina explores the transformations of Russian psychiatric practice through its relationship to literature. During this period, psychiatrists began to view literature as both an indicator of the nation's mental health and an integral part of its well-being. By aligning themselves with writers, psychiatrists argued that the aim of their science was not dissimilar to the literary project of exploring the human soul and reflecting on the psychological ailments of the age.

Through the writing of pathographies (medical biographies), psychiatrists strengthened their social standing, debated political issues under the guise of literary criticism, and asserted moral as well as professional claims. By examining the psychiatric engagement with the works of Fyodor Dostoevsky, Nikolai Gogol, Leo Tolstoy, and the decadents and revolutionaries, Sirotkina provides a rich account of Russia's medical and literary history during this turbulent revolutionary period.

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Editorial Reviews

From The Critics
After describing the key period in the formation of the specialty in Russia, Sirotkina (history of science and technology, Russian Academy of Sciences) diverges from traditional history by focusing on the psychiatric discussions of writers and literature. She defends her approach by pointing out that literature created the image of Russia both inside and outside the country, and dramatically shaped the expression of fears and aspirations. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR
Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease
Irina Sirotkina gives a fascinating account of the growth of psychiatry in Russia through the prism of literature.

— Anne Garside

Times Literary Supplement
[Sirotkina] has a deep interest in her subject, and she offers a mine of information and commentary about the linked histories of psychiatry and literature in Russia (and in the post-1917 Russian émigré community). The results of her archival research are most rewarding for anyone interested in the history of Russian psychiatry.

— Daniel Rancour-Laferriere

Slavic Review
In this absorbing work of exemplary scholarship, Irina Sirotkina... convincingly correlates trends in the theory and practice of Russian psychotherapy, during the fifty-year period studied, with changing developments in sociopolitical thought.

— Martin Bidney

Medical History
A worthy and cleverly constructed attempt to redress the excesses of casting psychiatry as a self-interested body.

— Ben Mayhew

Journal of the History of Medicine
A valuable contribution to our understanding of the history of Russian psychiatry.

— Laura Goering

European Legacy
An interesting and respectable history of a critical time in Russia's history.

— Cary Federman

Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease - Anne Garside
Irina Sirotkina gives a fascinating account of the growth of psychiatry in Russia through the prism of literature.
Times Literary Supplement - Daniel Rancour-Laferriere
[Sirotkina] has a deep interest in her subject, and she offers a mine of information and commentary about the linked histories of psychiatry and literature in Russia (and in the post-1917 Russian émigré community). The results of her archival research are most rewarding for anyone interested in the history of Russian psychiatry.
Slavic Review - Martin Bidney
In this absorbing work of exemplary scholarship, Irina Sirotkina... convincingly correlates trends in the theory and practice of Russian psychotherapy, during the fifty-year period studied, with changing developments in sociopolitical thought.
Medical History - Ben Mayhew
A worthy and cleverly constructed attempt to redress the excesses of casting psychiatry as a self-interested body.
Journal of the History of Medicine - Laura Goering
A valuable contribution to our understanding of the history of Russian psychiatry.
European Legacy - Cary Federman
An interesting and respectable history of a critical time in Russia's history.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780801876899
  • Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press
  • Publication date: 4/30/2003
  • Series: Medicine and Culture
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 288
  • File size: 2 MB

Meet the Author

Irina Sirotkina is a research fellow at the Institute for the History of Science and Technology, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow.

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Table of Contents


Contents:



Preface

On Transliteration and Spelling



Introduction

1 Gogol, Moralists, and Nineteenth-Century Psychiatry

2 Dostoevsky: From Epilepsy to Progeneration

3 Tolstoy and the Beginning of Psychotherapy in Russia

4 Decadents, Revolutionaries, and the Nation's Mental Health

5 The Institute of Genius: Psychiatry in the Early Soviet Years



Notes

Bibliography

Index

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