Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences

Alcohol, Psychiatry and Society

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Alcohol, Psychiatry and Society

Who this event is for

  • Everyone
  • Academic community


St Anne’s College, Oxford


Alcohol consumption is currently seen as a major public health hazard across the globe. The medicalisation of alcohol use has become a prominent discourse that guides policy makers and impacts public perceptions of alcohol and drinking. This symposium intends to map the historical and cultural dimensions of these phenomena. Emphasis is on medical attitudes and theories regarding alcohol consumption and the changing role of alcohol in the fields of psychiatry and mental healing. The intention is to explore the shift from the use of alcohol in clinical treatment, as part of dietary regimens, incentive to work and reward for desirable behaviour during earlier periods to the emergence of alcoholism as a disease category that requires medical intervention, is covered by medical insurance and considered as a threat to public health. 

DAY ONE: 29 June 2017
8.30-9.00 Registration
9.00-9.40 Panel 1
Chair: Thomas Mueller, History of Psychiatry, Ulm/Ravensburg, Germany
David Korostyshevsky, History of Medicine, University of Minnesota, USA
“From Aqua Vitae to Poison: The early-modern transformation of alcohol in the Anglo-phone world”
9.40-10.20 Aude Fauvel, History of Psychiatry, Institut universitaire d’histoire de la médecine et de la santé publique, University of Lausanne, Switzerland
“Alcoholic Beasts: Alienists and the Problem of Animal Drunkenness in Nineteenth-century France”
10.20-10.40 Break
10.40-11.20 James E. Moran, History, University of Prince Edward Island, Charlottetown, Canada
“Alcohol and Alienation in New Jersey, c. 1810 to 1890”
11.20- 12.00 Mauricio Becerra Rebolledo, History of Science, CEHIC, Universitat Autónoma de Barcelona, Spain
“From nervous food to powerful agent of degeneration: Alcoholism and alcoholic psychosis in Rio de Janeiro and Santiago de Chile (18701920)
12.00-13.00 Lunch
13.00-13.40 Panel 2
Chair: Len Smith, History of Medicine, University of Birmingham
Jasmin Brötz, History, University of Koblenz-Landau, Germany “Healing the Nation’s Mind. The fight against alcoholism in the public discourse on rationalisation in late nineteenth and early twentieth- century Germany”
13.40-14.20 Simon Heap, History, Oxford Brookes University, UK
“ ‘In the Hot and Trying Climate of Nigeria the European has a Much Stronger Temptation to Indulge in Alcohol than the Native’: Alcoholism in Nigeria, c. 1880 to 1940”
14.20-15.00 Break
15.00-15.40 Iain D. Smith, Consultant Addiction Psychiatrist, NHS GGC and Researcher, Centre for History of Medicine, University of Glasgow, UK
“ ‘Finish’ Drinking and ‘Secret Cures’: A Snapshot of Alcohol, Psychiatry and Society in Scotland in 1895”
15.40-16.20 Konstantinos Gkotsinas, History, University of Crete, Rethymnon, Greece
  “ ‘Disciples of Asclepius ‘or ‘Advocates of Hermes’? Greek psychiatrists and alcohol at the turn of the twentieth century”

Informal Conference Dinner (preceded by lemonade etc. in the pub…)

Al-Shami Lebanese Restaurant http://www.al-shami.co.uk/

DAY TWO: 30 June 2017

Panel 3

Chair: TBC

Adéla Gjuričová, History, Institute of Contemporary History, Czech Academy of Science, Prague, Czech Republic
  “A Cradle of Psychotherapy: Alcohol addiction treatment in Socialist Czechoslovakia, 1948-1989”
9.40-10.20 Christian Werkmeister, History, Martin Luther University, HalleWittenberg, Germany
  “ ‘Doctor, now from face to face, answer quick: Will there be a diagnosis, or rather a verdict?’ Medical, moral, and political treatment of alcoholics in late Soviet psychiatry, 1970-1991”
10.20-10.40 BREAK
10.40-11.20 Nina Salouâ Studer, History, University of Bern, Switzerland “Assimilation by Alcohol: The role of France’s Mission Civilisatrice in the spread of alcoholism in twentieth-century Algeria”
11.20- 12.00 Akira Hashimoto, History of Psychiatry, Aichi Prefectural University, Japan
“Medical and Social Approaches to Alcoholism in Post-WWII Japan”
12.00-12.40 Thomas Mueller, History of Psychiatry, Ulm/Ravensburg, Germany
“German psychiatry and medical attitudes to alcohol consumption, c. 1820-1990”
12.40-14.00 Lunch
14.00-15.00 Panel 4
Discussion opened by Len Smith’s, Thomas Mueller’s and Waltraud Ernst’s comments on main themes


The conference is a collaborative initiative and supported by Humanities and Social Sciences at Oxford Brookes University (UK) and the Research Unit for the History of Medicine at the Centre for Psychiatry Südwürttemberg,Ravensburg (FRG).

Conference organisers

Additional Information for conference delegates