Psycho-Politics between the World Wars

Psychiatry and Society in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland

  • David Freis

Part of the Mental Health in Historical Perspective book series (MHHP)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-ix
  2. David Freis
    Pages 1-31
  3. David Freis
    Pages 33-72
  4. David Freis
    Pages 73-117
  5. David Freis
    Pages 239-329
  6. Back Matter
    Pages 331-383

About this book


‘In this surprisingly fresh history of interwar psychiatry in the German-speaking countries, David Freis explores how the era’s most prominent psychiatrists (Erwin Stransky, Emil Kraepelin, and Auguste Forel among others) transferred their diagnostic language from the clinic to society at large. … Dynamic, readable and deeply researched, David Freis’s book is a valuable reminder of the human cost of false associations between mental health theory and nationalism, then as now.’

Elizabeth Ann Danto, Hunter College of City University of New York, USA 

This book is about the psycho-political visions and programmes in early-twentieth century Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. Amidst the political and social unrest that followed the First World War, psychiatrists attempted to use their clinical insights to understand, diagnose, and treat society at large. The book uses a variety of published and unpublished sources to retrace major debates, protagonists, and networks involved in the redrawing of the boundaries of psychiatry’s sphere of authority. The book is based on three interconnected case studies: the overt pathologisation of the 1918/19 revolution led by right-wing German psychiatrists; the project of medical expansionism under the label of ‘applied psychiatry’ in inter-war Vienna; and the attempt to unite and implement different approaches to psychiatric prophylaxis in the movement for mental hygiene. By exploring these histories, the book also sheds light on the emergence of ideas that still shape the field to the present day and shows the close connection between utopian promises and the worst abuses of psychiatry. 


Germany Austria Social unrest Clinical experience Mentally ill Psychiatrists 1918 Revolution Right-wing Vienna Prophylaxis Mental hygiene Deinstitutionalisation

Authors and affiliations

  • David Freis
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Ethics, History and Theory of MedicineUniversity of MünsterMünsterGermany

Bibliographic information

  • DOI
  • Copyright Information The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019
  • Publisher Name Palgrave Macmillan, Cham
  • eBook Packages History History (R0)
  • Print ISBN 978-3-030-32701-9
  • Online ISBN 978-3-030-32702-6
  • Buy this book on publisher's site