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Tijdschrift voor Psychiatrie 23 (1981) 2, 86 - 101

Short report

The history of psychiatry, reconstruction and psychiatric epidemology

S. Tuinier †

A comparison is made between the historie description of Immanuel Wallerstein and Fernand Braudel and the usual ways of writing the history of psychiatry. It would seem very useful to add to history of great men and ideas another one dealing with psychiatry; one which puts the emphasis more on quantitative, historical methods and material limits aimed at detecting unconsious historical processes. The same comparison is made with what is referred to as reconstruction in psychiatry and psychoanalysis. This reconstruction does not, in fact, need the science of history but there is a striking resemblance between the two methods in both sciences which raises the question whether there is a possible relation between the rise of psychoanalysis and the paradigmatic change in the science of history. Furthermore, a number of remarks are made on the great technical difficulties which would arise if epidemiology were to occupy itself with the historical development of psychiatric disturbances in the individual.