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Masters of psychomedical reality: Neurosis and the medical profession

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Chapter Summary

In the early twentieth century, it was still customary for European physicians who wanted to learn about psychotherapy to consult neurologists. There was a Cartesian dualism in twentieth-century mental medicine: on the one hand, it was recognised that there were diseases of the nervous system, but, on the other hand, it was obvious that there were also illnesses of the mind. The fundamental problem was that it was often anything but clear whether a particular illness, such as schizophrenia, was one or the other. Concerning neuroses, the 'mentalist' view became dominant, but the established idea that 'functional nervous illnesses' might have an 'organic substratum' lingered on, and in a country such as Sweden, where neurology had a high profile as a medical specialty, neurologists and neurologically-trained nerve doctors remained the foremost neurosis experts until the 1940s when psychiatry, psychoanalysis and psychosomatic medicine all but annexed the clinical field of neuroses.

Keywords: hysteria; neurasthenia; neurology; neurosis; psychiatry; psychotherapy; Sweden



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