French psychiatry and the search for a professional ...
|Title||French psychiatry and the search for a professional identity: The Société Médico-Psychologique, 1840-1870|
|Author(s)||Ian R. Dowbiggin|
|Journal||Bulletin of the History of Medicine|
|Abstract||The Societe Medico-Psychologique, which emerged in 1852 under the Second Empire, served as a means of professional identity for asylum psychiatry. It was the first alienist learned society in French history and psychiatry's first attempt at association. Designed as a medical specialist organization, it aimed at reconciliation between medicine and psychology. This position was adopted to placate philosophical, clerical, and imperial interests, by establishing that organized medicine was not atheistic in conceding the existence of a metaphysical and rational soul. There is evidence that this official view was not shared by all members, many of whom remained fiercely republican, anticlerical, and wedded to purely physiological views. The society pursued a policy of conciliation and cooperation with the state and its bureaucracy to secure state support for its members. Alienists had embraced secular medical science more for its capacity to make them appear apolitical than for its capacity to depict them as anticlerical ideologues.|
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