Newsletter No: 5

Zurich, August 24th, 2004

Dear colleagues and members of our section,

Some time has elapsed since our last newsletter - and I want to start with a short explanation why that is so. Short after our business meeting at the last World Congress of Psychiatry in Yokohama in 2002 it became clear for me that I will change my place of work during the year 2003. And I am happy to inform you that in June 2003 I took over my new position at the university hospital in Zurich, the “Burghölzli”, which, for a person interested in the history of psychiatry, really is an exciting place. After one year I may say that the different fields of clinical and scientific activity are running nor-mally again after several more or less turbulent months. And these turbulences, to come back to my point, were the reason for the “slow motion” of some of our section`s movements.

One of the prominent topics on my agenda is to put into action our plans for the section`s development as decided upon in Yokohama. So let me ask you to have a look at the newsletter no. 4 that contains the report of that business meeting. Should you not (or no more) have a copy, please let me know. At the end of this newsletter I will ask you some questions that partly refer to our business meeting.

Since the last world congress the section has been quite active as far as congress activities are concerned (at least in Europe, which, of course, is not enough on the long run). Let me mention the follow-ing:

  • At the Triennial Conference of the European Association for the History of Psychiatry (EAHP) (Madrid, September 2002) the section`s chairman gave an invited plenary lecture on “What is `Biological Psychia-try´? Historical and actual aspects“.
  • At the Annual Meeting of the German Society of Psychiatry, Psychotherapy and Nervous Diseases (DGPPN) (Berlin, November 2002) we again had a stimulating symposium - jointly organized by WPA`s and DGPPN`s sections on History of Psychiatry - on “Historical and actual aspects of social psychiatry”, that was very well attended.

Due to the reasons mentioned above, we were not able to present such a symposium at the 2003 DGPPN meeting. In the upcoming congress in November 2004, however, there will be a symposium on “History of Psychiatry: New conceptual and empirical aspects” with special regard to the turn from the 19th to the 20th century. Details will soon be displayed at

  • At the WPA International Thematic Conference on Psychiatric Diagnosis (Vienna, June 2003) the chairman of the section delivered a talk about “Psychiatric Diagnoses from Kraepelin to ICD 10: Continuity or paradigm shift?”
  • At the 18th Panhellenic Congress of Psychiatry (Kos, May 2004), which - as I am glad to say - had an emphasis on the history of psychiatry and was therefore with good reason held at the beautiful island of Kos, the section`s chairman gave a lecture on “History of Psychiatry: Its relevance for psychiatric practice and research”.
  • At the upcoming WPA International Congress on “Treatments in Psychiatry: an update” (Florence, November 10 - 13, 2004) there will be two activities of our section:
    1. We will organize a symposium on “European Psychiatry from 1800 to 2004: Institutions, Concepts and Policies” with the following speakers
      • Patrizia Guarnieri, Florence
        Family Care, Psychiatry and Welfare Policies for the Mentally Ill in the XIXth and XXth Centuries Florence
      • Eric J. Engstrom, Berlin / Munich
        Jurisdictions of Psychiatric Practice: On the Emergence of University Clinics in Germany 1867 – 1914
      • Paul Hoff, Zurich
        Concepts of mental disorders in the 19th and 20th century: Why do they matter for present-day psychiatry?
    2. The section`s chairman was invited for a talk on “Basic concepts of illness in psychiatry: Their implications for psychiatric diagnosis and research” at the special symposium on “Nosological Validity and Diagnostic Validity” chaired by J. Mezzich, B. Ustun and C. Berganza.
  • At the WPA Congress in Athens on “Advances in Psychiatry” in March 2005 there will be an emphasis on the activities of the WPA sec-tions. The section`s chairman will report on “Recent advances in research on the History of Psychiatry: Chances and limitations of the global Perspective”.
  • Our section has just been asked to contribute to the WPA Regional meeting in Mar del Plata, Argentina, April 21 - 24, 2005. Your suggestions are most welcome, especially since some of you live and work in this region.
  • The XIII World Congress of Psychiatry will, as you know, take place in Cairo, Egypt, from September 11 to 14, 2005. It is not only due to the “historical” character of the hosting country and the general theme of the congress which will be “5000 years of science and care”, that our section will be present in Cairo. Again, your ideas will be most welcome.

So, last not least, let me ask you to send me your opinion about the following topics and questions:

  1. Please let me know, if you - in case you could not attend the meeting - should have any objections against the decisions of our Yokohama business meeting, especially with regard to the new members and the new section officers for the election period 2002 - 2005, which actually are the same as in the period before.
  2. Are your personal data - as given in the enclosed member list - correct and do they include a valid and reliable email-address?
  3. Do you have suggestions for our section`s activities at the above men-tioned upcoming WPA meetings, especially at the XIII World Congress in Cairo in 2005?
  4. Do you have suggestions how to enlarge our active membership and how to gain financial sponsoring without creating any dependency on the donor?
  5. Do you have suggestions for the strategic development of our section in general? These should include the issues of
    • intersectional cooperation, which in recent years became an impor-tant WPA topic and
    • closer cooperation with national societies or special interest groups (as, for example, I am in the pleasant position to have the Society for the History of Swiss Psychiatry right here at the “Burghölzli”).

I hope to hear from you soon, preferably by email. As for me, being well installed now here in the beautiful city of Zurich, I will “bother” you with a newsletter about 4 times a year. Should you wish to contribute interesting material to these newsletters, you are, of course, always invited to do so.

Cordially yours,

Prof. Paul Hoff, MD, PhD




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