From the Archive: Witchcraft and Healing in the Colonial Andes, 16th-17th Centuries

In our “From the Archive” series, we revisit articles published throughout the journal’s history, and explore the meaning of these publications for contemporary issues in medical anthropology, medical humanities, and social medicine. This week, we explore Irene Silverblatt’s December 1983 article “The evolution of witchcraft and the meaning of healing in colonial Andean society.”cropped-cropped-2009cover-copy1.jpg

Silverblatt writes that while the Spanish conquistadors were laying claim to land and peoples in South America in the 16th and 17th centuries, their countrymen in Spain were in the throes of the Spanish Inquisition. Traditional healers (most often women) were tortured and killed as agents of the devil. These healers were assumed to either mask deadly curses in the form of cures, or to have received their healing knowledge from a diabolical pact. Rather than leaving this battle against traditional healing at home in Europe, the Spanish conquistadors carried the legacy of the Inquisition with them across the world, imposing similar religious restrictions on traditional healers in the societies they conquered by holding Inquisition-style court hearings.

European cosmologies, based intensely on the dualistic struggle between good and evil, did not evenly graft onto the Andean worldview. In the Peruvian Andes, where Silverblatt focuses her paper, women were not considered morally inferior to men and more susceptible to evil; likewise, native Andean models of disease viewed illness as the result of an imbalance between the individual, society, and supernatural forces, rather than caused directly by evil spirits. Andean healers thus served as both priests (who placated the spirits to seek balance in the universe) and as healers (who treated the individual sufferer with herbs or medicines.) Their treatments relied on the connectedness between the community, spirits, and the healers themselves.

Yet throughout the 16th century, in the period of Spanish colonization, exposure to Christian mythology and cosmology led these healers to view their practice differently. By the 17th century, Andean healers tried by Spanish inquisitors confessed to dreams and visions wherein they received recipes for herbal medicines from the spirits. The devil in these accounts, though, took on particular forms: that of the Christian saint Santiago (the patron of Spain), as tiny angels (also Christian entities), men dressed in cloaks, or as snakes. The latter proved the closest form of Satan to appear in the Spanish religious canon, but these spirits were scarcely the hideous, bestial demons known to Spanish lore. Indeed, Silverblatt posits that the healers envisioned Saint Santiago as their spiritual contact because they fashioned him as another form of the Thunder God, a native figure representing conquest who could also ward off diseases caused by sorcery.

Throughout the primary legal documents that Silverblatt reviews, the healers also argued that the spirits– even when described as malignant– served them equally to help and to cause harm. The spirits were not agents of evil alone in their stories. These confessions suggest that the Andean relationship to spirits in the Christian narrative remained connected to their native ideology of cosmological balance and harmony, wherein the spirits could be responsible for imbalance or harmony. In this fashion, traditional healers on trial resisted traditional Spanish notions of devil-worship, while simultaneously asserting the validity of their own indigenous notions of spiritual and social balance within healing.

Silverblatt’s piece contains a valuable lesson for continued inquiry into colonialism and neocolonialism. She invites us to analyze colonization as a dialectical relationship between colonizers and the colonized, and consider the way that the tensions between these two populations’ ideologies come to create novel cosmologies, beliefs, and perspectives. Likewise, she suggests that the authority of a medical system is tightly woven into the social and political worlds in which it is practiced. Silverblatt similarly concludes that rather than reading colonial threats towards indigenous medicines as hegemonic, we discover much more by locating the resistance of native healers to newly-introduced ideas about healing, and by analyzing the ways that they integrate foreign beliefs into their outlook on medical practice.


To access the full article through Springer, click here: http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/BF00052240

Book Release: Wailoo’s “Pain: A Political History”

Image via JHU Press

Image via JHU Press

This October 2015, Johns Hopkins University Press is slated to release Keith Wailoo’s Pain: A Political History. Wailoo’s book examines how the definition of chronic pain in the United States developed and changed alongside broader political and economic changes. The book begins with the culture of treatment following World War II, when public and political attitudes towards pain considered physical suffering real and potentially disabling. With decreasing support of disability programs throughout the 1980s, however, the validity and legitimacy of chronic pain came under question.

New conversations beginning in the 1990s about euthanasia reinvigorated the conversation surrounding pain, no doubt bolstered today by current discussions of medical marijuana laws and the burgeoning use of prescription painkillers for recreation purposes. This renewed interest in the nature and the extent of pain have enlivened the debate around who experiences pain, how we certify pain, and at what point pain requires medical intervention.

The book strives to illuminate the historical foundations of today’s contemporary pain medication and treatment market, particularly in terms of the liberal and conservative political trends between the 1950s and today. Wailoo’s account culminates with an exploration of the contemporary state of pain care: a severe imbalance between the overmedicated and the underserved who cannot access treatment for their chronic pain. Pain: A Political History will certainly prove insightful for historians of medicine as well as political-economic medical anthropologists, theorists of neoliberalism, and medical anthropologists carrying out research in the United States.

Wailoo is Professor of History and Public Affairs as well as the Vice Dean of the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University.


To learn more about the book, click on JHU Press’ page here: https://jhupbooks.press.jhu.edu/content/pain

Guest Blog: Culture, Medicine, and Neuropsychiatry

This week, we are featuring a special guest blog post by M. Ariel Cascio, PhD. Here, she discusses neuropsychiatry in the Italian context and within the United States.

In the 21st century, anthropologists and allied scholars talk frequently of the biologization, cerebralization or neurologization of psychiatry. Many make reference to the 1990s, the “Decade of the Brain” that closed out the last century. They talk about “brain diseases” as a dominant discourse in discussions of mental illness. The 2014 Annual Meeting of the American Anthropological Association hosted a panel on “reflections on mind and body in the era of the ‘cerebral subject.’” In these and other ways, scholars write and talk about increasing dominance of brain discourses in discussion of psychological and psychiatric topics. This dominance has historical roots, for example in German (Kraepelinian) psychiatry, and authors in Culture, Medicine & Psychiatry and elsewhere have written about the historical context and local manifestations of this dominance of the neurological in the psy- sciences.

In this blog post I explore a situation in which neurology and psychiatry have long co-existed: the Italian field of neuropsychiatry. While the field “neuropsychiatry” is not unknown in the United States, and similar terms are used in other countries as well, I offer some comments specifically on the Italian context. The example of Italian neuropsychiatry provides one case of a particular historical relationship between neurology, psychiatry, and psychology that would be of interest to any historical or anthropological scholars of psychiatry.

The Italian medical system distinguishes between neuropsychiatry and psychiatry, neuropsichiatria infantile and psichiatria. Neuropsichiatria infantile (child neuropsychiatry), abbreviated NPI but sometimes referred to simply as neuropsichiatria (neuropsychiatry), addresses neurological, psychiatric, and developmental problems in children under age 18. Psichiatria (psychiatry) treats adults starting at age 18. As such, it is tempting to simply distinguish child and adult psychiatry. However, neuropsychiatry and psychiatry actually have distinct origins and practices. As the names imply, neuropsychiatry links neurology and psychiatry. Adult psychiatry, however, does not.

While Italian psychiatry has its roots in early 19th century organicist and biological approaches, in the 1960s a younger generation of psychiatrists, most prominently Franco Basaglia, aligned themselves with phenomenology and existential psychiatry. These psychiatrists crystallized their ideas into the ideology of Psichiatra Democratica (Democratic Psychiatry) and the initiative of “Basaglia’s Law,” the 1978 Law 180 which began Italy’s process of deinstitutionalization, generally considered to be very successful (Donnelly 1992). While childhood neuropsychiatry is indeed the counterpart to adult psychiatry, more than just the age group served differentiates these fields. If Italian psychiatry has its roots in Basaglia and the ideology of democratic psychiatry, neuropsychiatry has its roots at the turn of the 20th century, in the works of psychiatrist Sante de Sanctis, psychopedagogue Giuseppe F. Montesano, and pedagogue Maria Montessori.

In this way, neuropsychiatry’s origins bridged psychiatry and pedagogy (Bracci 2003; Migone 2014). Giovanni Bollea has been called the father of neuropsychiatry for his role in establishing the professional after World War II (Fiorani 2011; Migone 2014). Fiorani (2011) traces the use of the term neuropsychiatry (as opposed to simply child psychiatry, for example) to Bollea’s desire to honor the distinctly Italian tradition and legacy following Sante de Sanctis.

Several features distinguish psychiatry and neuropsychiatry. Migone (2014) argues that child neuropsychiatry has taken more influence from French psychoanalytic schools, whereas adult psychiatry has taken more influence from first German and then Anglo-Saxon psychiatries. Migone further explains:

Child and adolescent psychiatry in Italy is therefore characterized by a reduced use of medications (if compared to the United States), and by a diffuse use of dynamic psychotherapy, both individual and family therapy (from the mid-1970s systemic therapy spread). The attention to the family and the social environment is extremely important for understand the clinical case during the developmental years. [My translation]

Moreover, neuropsychiatry is known for being multidisciplinary and working in equipe, teams of psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers and so on. It incorporates psychoanalysis, psychotherapy, dynamic psychology, psychological testing, social interventions, and more (Fiorani 2011).

This extremely brief overview outlines key characteristics of Italian neuropsychiatry and the ways it is distinguished from Italian psychiatry, as well as from U.S. psychiatry. Italian neuropsychiatry provides one example of a long-standing relationship between neurology, psychiatry, psychology, philosophy, and pedagogy. By drawing attention to this medical specialty and the complexities of the different fields it addresses, I hope to have piqued the interest of historical and anthropological scholars. I include English and Italian language sources for further reading below.


References and Further Reading – English

Donnelly, Michael. 1992. The Politics of Mental Health in Italy. London ; New York: Routledge.

Feinstein, Adam. 2010. A History of Autism: Conversations with the Pioneers. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell.

Levi, Gabriel, and Paola Bernabei. 1997. Italy. In Handbook of Autism and Pervasive Developmental Disorders. 2nd edition. Donald J. Cohen and Fred R. Volkmar, eds. New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons.

Nardocci, Franco. 2009. The Birth of Child and Adolescent Neuropsychiatry: From Rehabilitation and Social Inclusion of the Mentally Handicapped, to the Care of Mental Health during Development. Ann Ist Super Sanità 45: 33–38.

References and Further Reading – Italian

Bracci, Silvia. 2003. Sviluppo della neuropsichiatria in Italia ed Europa. Storia delle istituzioni psichiatriche per l’infanzia. In L’Ospedale psichiatrico di Roma. Dal Manicomio Provinciale alla Chiusura. Antonio Iaria, Tommaso Losavio, and Pompeo Martelli, eds. Pp. 145–161. Bari: Dedalo.

Fiorani, Matteo. 2011. Giovanni Bollea, 1913-2011: Per Una Storia Della Neuropsichiatria Infantile in Italia. Medicina & Storia 11(21/22): 251–276.

Migone, Paolo. 2014. Storia Della Neuropsichiatria Infantile (prima Parte). Il Ruolo Terapeutico 125: 55–70.

Russo, Concetta, Michele Capararo, and Enrico Valtellina. 2014. A sé e agli altri. Storia della manicomializzazione dell’autismo e delle altre disabilità relazionali nelle cartelle cliniche di S. Servolo. 1. edizione. Milano etc.: Mimesis.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

M. Ariel Cascio is an anthropologist specializing in the cultural study of science and biomedicine, psychological anthropology, and the anthropology of youth. She recently successfully defended her dissertation on autism in Italy at Case Western Reserve University. She can be reached at ariel.cascio@case.edu. Her blog, written in Italian and English, can be viewed here: https://arielcascio.wordpress.com/.

Upcoming Conferences in Social Studies of Science/Medicine: Fall 2015

If you have an event to add to this list, please contact Julia Balacko at jcb193@case.edu with the name of the event/conference, date(s), location, and a link to the event page or a brief description. This list is for conference in the Fall of 2015 (August-December.) All conferences/events are organized chronologically by date.


 Seventh International Conference on Science in Society: “Educating Science”

October 1-2 2015 – Chicago, Illinois

http://science-society.com/the-conference/call-for-papers

A Critical Moment: Sex/Gender Research at the Intersection of Culture, Brain, & Behavior Conference

October 23-24 2015 – Los Angeles, California

http://www.thefprconference2015.org/

Society for Social Studies of Science (4S) Annual Meeting

November 11-14 2015 – Denver, Colorado

http://www.4sonline.org/meeting

American Anthropological Association 2015 Annual Meeting: “Familiar/Strange”

November 18-22 2015 – Denver, Colorado

http://www.aaanet.org/meetings/

Logo via AAA website

Logo via AAA website

History of Science Society Annual Meeting

November 19-22 – San Francisco, California

http://hssonline.org/meetings/annual-meeting-archive/

Book Release: Haeckel’s Embryos by Nick Hopwood

Debuting May 2015 from the University of Chicago Press is Nick Hopwood’s Haeckel’s Embryos: Images, Evolution, and Fraud. The book describes the lasting cultural impact of 19th-century illustrations that demonstrate the identical appearance of human and other vertebrate embryos in the earliest stages of gestation, only later morphing into their adult-like forms. These drawings, produced by Darwinist Ernst Haeckel in 1868, caused an uproar in the scientific community at the time as well as in the 1990s, when biologists and creationists alike argued against their accuracy and inclusion into scientific textbooks.

Image courtesy University of Chicago Press

Image courtesy University of Chicago Press

Hopwood traces the heated history of Haeckel’s drawings from their initial publication in the 19th century through their controversial presence in the current age. In addition to considering the impact of these images on developing understandings of biology, Haeckel simultaneously draws attention to the continued power of these images in contemporary discourse. The book will prove of interest to scholars of medicine who are curious about how popular as well as scientific knowledge of the human body is shaped by visual media, as well as how scientific information is culturally and historically situated.

Nick Hopwood is Reader in History of Science and Medicine and the Director of Graduate Studies at the University of Cambridge’s Department of History and Philosophy of Science.


To learn more about the book, check out its feature page at UCP here: http://www.press.uchicago.edu/ucp/books/book/chicago/H/bo18785800.html

News: Must-See Medical Museums in the USA

 

Boston, MA

The Warren Anatomical Museum in partnership with Harvard University contains the skeletal remains and the infamous tamping iron of Phineas Gage, as well as phrenological casts and other objects in the history of the study of the human body.

The Public Health Museum is located on the grounds of the former Tewksbury Hospital, and features exhibits on the development of public health in history.

Chicago, IL

The International Museum of Surgical Science, located on the shores of Lake Michigan just north of “The Magnificent Mile,” is a collection of surgical instruments, medical artifacts, and displays on the history of anatomical and surgical learning housed in a beautifully restored former mansion.

The Museum of Science and Industry in the Hyde Park neighborhood is an enormous building which houses not only a permanent collection of plastinated and preserved cadaveric specimens, but features many exhibits on human health, the body, and other areas of scientific and industrial development.

Cleveland, OH

The Dittrick Museum of Medical History houses a newly-renovated exhibit on medical instruments and devices, as well as the Percy Skuy Collection of artifacts in the history of contraception and abortion. It also features exhibitions on the history of birth and on medical practice in the Cleveland area.

Danville, KY

The McDowell House Museum is the restored home and office of Dr. Ephraim McDowell, who for the first time in history in 1809 successfully removed an ovarian tumor. The museum features a collection of early medical equipment in the USA, gardens, and a recreated 19th century apothecary.

Houston, TX

The Health Museum features a series of interactive exhibits about the human body and disease, with rotating exhibitions on various aspects of biomedical technology and science. It is a family-friendly destination if you happen to be in town with little ones.

Indianapolis, IN

The Indiana Medical Museum can be found on the grounds of the former Central State Hospital, inside the old pathology building. The museum highlights the early history of biomedical psychiatry, and in its own words: “maintains a collection of scientific artifacts from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries in a completely authentic setting. Constructed in 1895 and inaugurated in 1896, the nineteen-room Pathological Department Building, as it was then called, is equipped with three clinical laboratories, a photography lab, teaching amphitheatre, autopsy room, and library.”

Kirksville, MO

The Museum of Osteopathic Medicine at A.T. Still University is the first museum dedicated to osteopathic care. It is home to an impressive collection of over 50,000 artifacts in the history of osteopathy, many from the founder of the field: Dr. Andrew T. Still, whose cabin is on the museum grounds.

New York, NY

The Morbid Anatomy Museum, newly opened by independent scholar Joanna Ebenstein, is located in Brooklyn. It features an array of exhibits on the intersections of death, art, and medicine, as well as a coffee café on the bottom level.

Philadelphia, PA

The Mütter Museum is a world-renowned collection of medical oddities and human pathological specimens, including (not for the faint of heart) the mummified body of a woman whose fat chemically decomposed into a soap-like material. The Mütter Museum has partnered with the Penn Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology to offer a one-price two-museum admission ticket, if you wish to visit both institutions.

Rangley, ME

The Wilhelm Reich Museum, situated inside the former home and estate of psychiatrist and psychoanalyst Dr. Wilhelm Reich, displays Dr. Reich’s collection of scientific devices and artwork. It also features a bookstore with the widest selection of his publications, as well as a conference center on the estate grounds.

Rochester, NY

The Rochester Medical Museum and Archive is located in the Rochester Academy of Medicine, and houses a collection of photos, articles, and vignettes on display that document the history of medicine in the Rochester area. The museum also features a climate-controlled storage area for clinical costumes and other artifacts in the history of medicine.

Washington, DC

The National Museum of Health and Medicine highlights not only the historical development of medicine in America, but the impact of medicine during important moments in American history, such as the Civil War and the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln.

The NIH US National Library of Medicine, an impressive collection of medical books and artifacts, is open to the public.

The National Museum of Civil War Medicine features exhibits on medicine and care in the Civil War era, as well as highlighting the changing roles of women and medical professionals in the delivery of treatment at that time.

News: 2015 Conferences in Cultural Studies of Medicine and Medical Humanities

The following is a list of conferences in 2015 with upcoming submission deadlines in the fall. If you are a conference organizer or have a conference you’d like to share in the fields of medical anthropology, medical humanities, or the social science of medicine, please email blog editor Julia Balacko at jcb193@case.edu with the location and date(s) of the conference, as well as submission deadlines. Conferences are listed by the date they will be held.

Medical Humanities for Drew University Transatlantic Connections Conference

January 14-18 2015 Donegal, Ireland

Deadline for submissions: Nov 1st 2014

Ageing Histories, Mythologies and Taboos: CFP Interdisciplinary Conference

University of Bergen, January 30th-31st 2015

Deadline for submissions: Sept 1st 2014

Vesalius and the Invention of the Modern Body

February 26-28th 2015

Washington University in St. Louis and Saint Louis University

(No submissions – invited speakers)

Playing Age (Anthropology and Gerontology)

University of Toronto, Feb. 27-28, 2015

Deadline for submissions: Sept 5th 2014

Medicine and Poetry: From the Greeks to the Enlightenment

March 20th, 2015 University of Miami Coral Gables, Florida

Deadline for abstracts: October 3rd, 2014

The Examined Life Conference: Writing, Humanities, and the Arts of Medicine

The University of Iowa, April 16th-18th 2015

(No submissions- workshop-based conference)

The American Association for the History of Medicine Conference

New Haven, CT, April 30th-May 3rd

Deadline for abstracts: Sept 26th 2014