History of the Human Sciences 31 (4):38-57 (2018)

Previous accounts of psychiatry within Communist Europe have emphasized the dominance of biological approaches to mental health treatment. Psychotherapy was thus framed as a taboo or marginal component of East European psychiatric care. In more recent years, this interpretation has been re-examined as historians are beginning to delve deeper into the diversity of mental healthcare within the Communist world, noting many instances in which psychotherapeutic techniques and theory entered into clinical practice. Despite their excellent work uncovering these hitherto neglected histories, however, historians of the psy-disciplines in Eastern Europe have neglected to fully consider the ways that post-World War II psychotherapeutic developments were not simply continuations of pre-war psychoanalytic traditions, but rather products of emerging transnational networks and knowledge exchanges in the post-war period. This article highlights how psychotherapy became a leading form of treatment within Communist Yugoslavia. Inspired by theorists in France and the United Kingdom, among other places, Yugoslav practitioners became well versed in a number of psychotherapeutic techniques, especially ‘brief psychotherapy’ and group-based treatment. These developments were not accidents of ideology, whereby group psychotherapy might be accepted by authorities as a nod to some idea of ‘the collective’, but were rather products of economic limitations and strong links with international networks of practitioners, especially in the domains of social psychiatry and group analysis. The Yugoslav example underscores the need for more historical attention to transnational connections among psychotherapists and within the psy-disciplines more broadly.
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DOI 10.1177/0952695118773951
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Psychotherapy in Historical Perspective.Sarah Marks - 2017 - History of the Human Sciences 30 (2):3-16.

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