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Psychopathy and Psychiatric Language in Southern and Southeastern Post-Habsburg Territories in the First Half of the 20th Century

Thu, November 9, 3:00 to 4:45pm, Marriott Downtown Chicago, Floor: 2nd, Streeterville


The early 20th century medical and scientific expertizes in the Habsburg and Post-Habsburg lands relied on a variegated academic training and specialization, which connected different spots of Southeastern, Mediterranean and especially Central European. Our intention is to investigate the developments of the psychiatric discourse, specifically around the problem of “dangerous”, violent and anti-social behaviors, which, starting with World War One, were predominantly classified as psychopathic. How did psychiatrists of the first half of the 20th century address anti-social and “dangerous” behavior in scientific and medical journals and meetings? How patients from these areas and with such diagnoses were treated? The discussion of “psychopathy” in psychiatric language also allows analyzing the gendering of psychiatric diagnosing, that is concepts of manliness and femaleness constructed through scientific medical discourse in different times. Finally, our analysis is concerned with the question of how understandings of psychopathy connected with the cataclysms of the World Wars and its following political, cultural and social turnovers in the area. This paper will address these questions comparatively relying on scientific publications and mental hospital sources from two different former Habsburg areas, namely the Upper Adriatic including Trieste and Istria and Vojvodina in Serbia.