Who were the Alienists, a group of which Sigmund Freud was part

Who were the Alienists, a group of which Sigmund Freud was part

There is no doubt about it. Austrian neurologist Sigmund Freud, who founded psychoanalysis, which created an entirely new approach to understanding the human personality and is considered one of the most influential and controversial minds of the 20th century, was a foreignist.

Not just him. His contemporaries were as many as those before him.

Although it seems to belong to some alien, it has nothing to do with it.

Alienists were those who studied, understood, cared for and helped patients suffering from “mental isolation” to overcome illness.

The term originated in revolutionary France and survived until the early 20th century.

origin of the word

If you look up “alienist” in a dictionary, you’ll find something like “specialist in the study and treatment of mental illness.”

The beginning of this new medical specialty was the result of a different stream of thought about insanity that was expressed in many places on the Old Continent, but the term itself originated in France.

In Europe during the 17th and 18th centuries, the mentally ill were cared for by their families or wandered to beg in the countryside and towns, Juan Carlos Stagnaro wrote in his dossier “The Birth of Psychiatry: A European Movement”. ” I have said.

But many were confined to hospitals built by the monarchy, which were considered “disturbing” of the social order.

The king had to succumb to pressure from those who demanded more humane conditions for hospitalized people in the state.

Image: Getty Images

In France, beginning in the reign of Louis 16, the philanthropic movement – inspired by the ideas of Jean-Jacques Rousseau – revealed, among other complaints, the miserable conditions in which people confined to the state’s general hospitals found themselves.

The pressure was so great that the king commissioned the Inspector General of Civil Hospitals and Prisons in the state, Jean Colombier, and his assistant, François Doublet, to prepare a report on the condition of the prisoners.

(…) “Thousands of insane people are in jails, without any thought of any way“, says an excerpt from the document.

“Half the lunatic is confused with the lost lunatic, furious with the peaceful lunatic: some are chained, others left in their prison.”

“In short, until nature comes to their aid and heals them, the end of their diseases is the end of their days, and unfortunately, until then, the disease only increases rather than subsides.”

Although reforms to improve the situation were temporarily interrupted by the revolution, the report had a great impact in the country, which became a republic.

The new French authorities implemented the recommendations of Colombier and Doublet, reforming their minds and serving those isolated from society, in accordance with the new human rights established by the revolution.

In 1814, a philanthropist, a member of the British Parliament, found an American in a hospital tied to an iron tool for more than a decade - Getty Images - Getty Images

In 1814, a member of the British Parliament, a philanthropist, discovered an American tied to an iron instrument in a hospital for more than a decade.

Image: Getty Images

Similar improvements occurred in other parts of the continent.

In 1808, in Germany, physician and anatomist Johann Christian Riel advocated the creation of an independent medical discipline, which he called psychiatry.


Both words remained in use.

But the study, understanding, care and support of patients suffering from “mental isolation” evolved – and isolationism was left behind.

Recounting his experience as a “young alienist”, renowned psychiatrist and psychotherapist Carl Jung – Freud’s closest associate – wrote in 1952:

“Our training as aliens was closely related to the anatomy of the brain, but not to the human psyche.”

“The only clinical observations — and post-mortem, when you looked at a brain with no signs of abnormality — were not particularly illuminating.”

“The axiom ‘mental disease is brain disease’ told nothing to anyone.”

In a 1957 interview with the BBC, Jung described how the beginning of a book argued that psychosis was a personality inadequacy, leading him to think: 'I want to be an alienist' - Getty Images - Getty Images

In an interview with the BBC in 1957, Jung described how at the beginning of a book it was argued that psychosis was a personality inadequacy, which made him think: ‘I want to be an alienist’.

Image: Getty Images

Freud and Jung focused on the psychology of mental disorders rather than their neuroscience or physiology, much in the way that psychiatrists and psychotherapists (still called alienists in the early 20th century) influenced the concept of symptoms.

“Fascinatingly,” notes physical and forensic psychologist Stephen A. Diamond in an article in Psychology Today.

“The historical pendulum has changed dramatically over the past hundred years, from the crude biology of early aliens to the in-depth insights of psychology in the 20th century, and now, sadly, on our primarily neurobiological and medical concept. Back.”

Will this be the return of aliens?

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About the author: Muhammad Wayne

"Travel enthusiast. Alcohol lover. Friendly entrepreneur. Coffeeaholic. Award-winning writer."

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