- 史學雜誌 (ISSN:00182478)
- vol.120, no.4, pp.461-495, 2011-04-20
This article offers a historical account of "mental hygiene" in England between 1890 and 1930, based on medical journals, newspapers and parliamentary publications, in order to document the process by which medico-political ideas and practice for the prevention of mental disease were established. Mental hygiene has been widely linked with the negative aspect of social exclusion, as seen in the persecution of the mentally disabled under the Nazi regime. However, it is a little known fact that the science of mental hygiene also aimed to increase mental productivity through preventive measures. In England, during the period in question, psychiatrists promoted programs for the "early treatment of mental diseases". "Early treatment" here specifically refers to the establishment of more accessible psychiatric facilities on an outpatient basis and a voluntary admission system, both of which were expected to encourage more people to use psychiatric services. In terms of the published discourse surrounding the subject of "early treatment", the author argues that books and articles were written and disseminated not only to maintain mental health for the sake of national productivity, but also to serve and strengthen the professional interests of psychiatrists, who had been forced to work under competitive market conditions due to the 1890 Lunacy Act. In this latter sense, the subject of mental hygiene became a verbal instrument for protecting the rights of members of the profession to earn a living.