Reasoning against Madness

June 2017
2 black and white illustrations
262 pages
9x6 in
Rochester Studies in Medical History
Library eBook
University of Rochester Press
BISAC HIS038000, MED039000, MED105000

Reasoning against Madness

Psychiatry and the State in Rio de Janeiro, 1830-1944

Manuella Meyer

Examines the emergence of Brazilian psychiatry during a period of national regeneration, demonstrating how sociopolitical negotiations can shape psychiatric professionalization
Reasoning against Madness: Psychiatry and the State in Rio de Janeiro, 1830-1944 examines the emergence of Brazilian psychiatry, looking at how its practitioners fashioned themselves as the key architects in the project of national regeneration. The book's narrative involves a cast of varied characters in an unstable context: psychiatrists, Catholic representatives, spiritist leaders, state officials, and the mentally ill, all caught in the shifting landscape of modern state formation.

Manuella Meyer investigates the key junctures at which psychiatrists sought to establish their authority and the ways in which their adversaries challenged this authority. These moments serve as productive points from which to explore the moral and political economies of mental health, demonstrating how sociopolitical negotiations shape psychiatric professionalization. Meyer argues that the gradual adoption of punitive configurations of insanity helped sanction socioeconomic and political inequalities during a time of rapid socioeconomic, political, and cultural transformation.

Manuella Meyer is Associate Professor of History at the University of Richmond.

Table of Contents

Sanity in the South Atlantic: The Myth of Philippe Pinel and the Asylum Campaign Movement, 1830-52
"Of Grand Intentions" and "Opaque Structures": The Fight for Psychiatric Management of the Hospício Pedro II during Brazil's Second Empire, 1852-90
The Government of Psychiatry: The National Insane Asylum's Interior Lives, 1890-94
"The Service of Disinterested Men": Psychiatrists under State and Civil Scrutiny, 1894-1903
Breaking Out of the Asylum: Rio de Janeiro's Mental Hygiene Movement, 1903-37
Mad Spirits of Progress, 1927-44


[V]ital reading for scholars interested in the growing literature on the global history of medicine and public health. JOURNAL OF THE HISTORY OF MEDICINE AND ALLIED SCIENCES

[A] fine piece of scholarship based on solid research. It will be mandatory reading for everybody interested in the history of psychiatry in Latin America and in the history of Brazil in general. HISPANIC AMERICAN HISTORICAL REVIEW

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