Moralisk fostran av den sjuka själen : En mikrohistorisk undersökning av samhälleliga strukturer inom den psykiatriska vården 1861- 1889.

Detta är en Kandidat-uppsats från Södertörns högskola/Institutionen för historia och samtidsstudier


The purpose of this study is to expand and variegate the general history of psychiatric care in

Sweden in the late nineteenth century. My objects of interest are the first two head doctors of

Stockholm’s hospital and their handwritten annual reports to the directorate of the hospital

from the year of 1862 to the year of 1889. During this time the psychiatric care in Sweden

went through a number of changes. Laws against treating patients of the asylums with

physical restraint and force were passed, and humanitarian and philanthropic movements were

a big part of these changes. In Sweden, the psychiatric care was expanding at this time. The

old asylums were condemned by humanitarian intellectuals for its horrible conditions, and the

doctors called out for new modern asylums. The modern day general history of the expansion

of asylums is often in some way linked to Michel Foucault’s theory of the psychiatric asylum

as an institution of social control. One of the main undertakings in this essay is to test this

theory in the context of a late nineteenth century asylum of Stockholm. Another ambition in

this essay is to establish which other characteristic structures of the nineteenth century that

appear to have influenced the psychiatric care. Testing Foucault’s theory of social control has

in this study proven to call for the need of additional theories concerning both class and

gender structures. To expose the nuances of the general history of the asylum I have been

using a microhistorical approach, while still integrating with the macro-leveled general

history and the control theory of Michel Foucault.

Focus in this research is on the two first head doctors of Stockholm’s first real asylum. In this

essay, I analyse their description of patient labour and the use of physical restraint/force

methods as treatments. The results of my research show that the upholding of social control

and moral standards was a big part of the head doctors profession during the second half of

the nineteenth century in the Swedish asylum. The results also show that the patients were

treated differently based on gender and which of the three different payment classes of the

asylum that they belonged to.

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