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Wendy Gonaver

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Latest 8 Jan 2022 | Updated Daily

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Wendy Gonaver — The Peculiar Institution and the Making of Modern Psychiatry

Perspectives on Science

In this episode of Perspectives, we speak with Wendy Gonaver, author of The Peculiar Institution and the Making of Modern Psychiatry, 1840-1880. Wendy Gonaver reveals the history of the Eastern Lunatic Asylum in Williamsburg, Virginia and its superintendent, John M. Galt. Gonaver explains the Asylum's exceptional status as the only psychiatric facility to accept both slaves and free blacks as patients and to employ slaves as attendants. Although Eastern Lunatic Asylum instituted a progressive form of "moral therapy" that reflected Enlightenment values (including doing away with mechanical restraints and corporal punishment), it nevertheless reflected and upheld the institution of slavery and, later, the racially discriminatory society of the antebellum South.Gonaver describes how superintendent John M. Galt believed that "religious fanaticism," as manifested in the abolitionist movement, was more harmful to a person's mental health than any sort of intemperance or "insanity." Despite this fact, Galt was the only psychiatric superintendent in the South to advocate for integrated wards and both black and white attendants. Careful not to romanticize Galt or his work, Gonaver explains how his advocacy of integrated institutions led to him becoming a pioneer in the development of outpatient psychiatric care. However, after Galt's death in 1862, Eastern Lunatic Asylum became segregated like all of the other psychiatric facilities in the South. As a result, psychiatric facilities for black patients in the antebellum South came to mimic the slave plantations that had existed beforehand, leading to abuse and involuntary imprisonment, without even the pretense of adequate or humane care.Wendy Gonaver is the author of The Peculiar Institution and the Making of Modern Psychiatry, 1840-1880. She received her Ph.D. in 2012 from the College of William and Mary. She taught as an adjunct at several universities, and currently works at the Frank Mt. Pleasant Library of Special Collections and Archives at Chapman University. For more resources on this topic, please visit: https://www.chstm.org/video/116.

32mins

7 Apr 2021

Episode artwork

Wendy Gonaver, "The Peculiar Institution and the Making of Modern Psychiatry, 1840–1880" (UNC Press, 2019)

New Books in African American Studies

Dr. Wendy Gonaver discusses her book, The Peculiar Institution and the Making of Modern Psychiatry, 1840-1880 (University of North Carolina Press, 2019), the Eastern Lunatic Asylum in Virginia, and the roles that race, the institution of slavery, and slave labor played in the development of psychiatric diagnosis and care through the nineteenth century and beyond.Though the origins of asylums can be traced to Europe, the systematic segregation of the mentally ill into specialized institutions occurred in the United States only after 1800, just as the struggle to end slavery took hold. In this book, Wendy Gonaver examines the relationship between these two historical developments, showing how slavery and ideas about race shaped early mental health treatment in the United States, especially in the South. She reveals these connections through the histories of two asylums in Virginia: the Eastern Lunatic Asylum in Williamsburg, the first in the nation; and the Central Lunatic Asylum in Petersburg, the first created specifically for African Americans. Eastern Lunatic Asylum was the only institution to accept both slaves and free blacks as patients and to employ slaves as attendants.Drawing from these institutions' untapped archives, Gonaver reveals how slavery influenced ideas about patient liberty, about the proper relationship between caregiver and patient, about what constituted healthy religious belief and unhealthy fanaticism, and about gender. This early form of psychiatric care acted as a precursor to public health policy for generations, and Gonaver's book fills an important gap in the historiography of mental health and race in the nineteenth century.Beth A. English is director of the Liechtenstein Institute's Project on Gender in the Global Community at Princeton University. She also is a past president of the Southern Labor History Association. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoicesSupport our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/african-american-studies

56mins

15 Nov 2019

Similar People

Episode artwork

Wendy Gonaver, "The Peculiar Institution and the Making of Modern Psychiatry, 1840–1880" (UNC Press, 2019)

New Books in the American South

Dr. Wendy Gonaver discusses her book, The Peculiar Institution and the Making of Modern Psychiatry, 1840-1880 (University of North Carolina Press, 2019), the Eastern Lunatic Asylum in Virginia, and the roles that race, the institution of slavery, and slave labor played in the development of psychiatric diagnosis and care through the nineteenth century and beyond.Though the origins of asylums can be traced to Europe, the systematic segregation of the mentally ill into specialized institutions occurred in the United States only after 1800, just as the struggle to end slavery took hold. In this book, Wendy Gonaver examines the relationship between these two historical developments, showing how slavery and ideas about race shaped early mental health treatment in the United States, especially in the South. She reveals these connections through the histories of two asylums in Virginia: the Eastern Lunatic Asylum in Williamsburg, the first in the nation; and the Central Lunatic Asylum in Petersburg, the first created specifically for African Americans. Eastern Lunatic Asylum was the only institution to accept both slaves and free blacks as patients and to employ slaves as attendants.Drawing from these institutions' untapped archives, Gonaver reveals how slavery influenced ideas about patient liberty, about the proper relationship between caregiver and patient, about what constituted healthy religious belief and unhealthy fanaticism, and about gender. This early form of psychiatric care acted as a precursor to public health policy for generations, and Gonaver's book fills an important gap in the historiography of mental health and race in the nineteenth century.Beth A. English is director of the Liechtenstein Institute's Project on Gender in the Global Community at Princeton University. She also is a past president of the Southern Labor History Association. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoicesSupport our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/american-south

56mins

15 Nov 2019

Episode artwork

Wendy Gonaver, "The Peculiar Institution and the Making of Modern Psychiatry, 1840–1880" (UNC Press, 2019)

New Books in Medicine

Dr. Wendy Gonaver discusses her book, The Peculiar Institution and the Making of Modern Psychiatry, 1840-1880 (University of North Carolina Press, 2019), the Eastern Lunatic Asylum in Virginia, and the roles that race, the institution of slavery, and slave labor played in the development of psychiatric diagnosis and care through the nineteenth century and beyond.Though the origins of asylums can be traced to Europe, the systematic segregation of the mentally ill into specialized institutions occurred in the United States only after 1800, just as the struggle to end slavery took hold. In this book, Wendy Gonaver examines the relationship between these two historical developments, showing how slavery and ideas about race shaped early mental health treatment in the United States, especially in the South. She reveals these connections through the histories of two asylums in Virginia: the Eastern Lunatic Asylum in Williamsburg, the first in the nation; and the Central Lunatic Asylum in Petersburg, the first created specifically for African Americans. Eastern Lunatic Asylum was the only institution to accept both slaves and free blacks as patients and to employ slaves as attendants.Drawing from these institutions' untapped archives, Gonaver reveals how slavery influenced ideas about patient liberty, about the proper relationship between caregiver and patient, about what constituted healthy religious belief and unhealthy fanaticism, and about gender. This early form of psychiatric care acted as a precursor to public health policy for generations, and Gonaver's book fills an important gap in the historiography of mental health and race in the nineteenth century.Beth A. English is director of the Liechtenstein Institute's Project on Gender in the Global Community at Princeton University. She also is a past president of the Southern Labor History Association. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoicesSupport our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/medicine

56mins

15 Nov 2019

Most Popular

Episode artwork

Wendy Gonaver, "The Peculiar Institution and the Making of Modern Psychiatry, 1840–1880" (UNC Press, 2019)

New Books in American Studies

Dr. Wendy Gonaver discusses her book, The Peculiar Institution and the Making of Modern Psychiatry, 1840-1880 (University of North Carolina Press, 2019), the Eastern Lunatic Asylum in Virginia, and the roles that race, the institution of slavery, and slave labor played in the development of psychiatric diagnosis and care through the nineteenth century and beyond.Though the origins of asylums can be traced to Europe, the systematic segregation of the mentally ill into specialized institutions occurred in the United States only after 1800, just as the struggle to end slavery took hold. In this book, Wendy Gonaver examines the relationship between these two historical developments, showing how slavery and ideas about race shaped early mental health treatment in the United States, especially in the South. She reveals these connections through the histories of two asylums in Virginia: the Eastern Lunatic Asylum in Williamsburg, the first in the nation; and the Central Lunatic Asylum in Petersburg, the first created specifically for African Americans. Eastern Lunatic Asylum was the only institution to accept both slaves and free blacks as patients and to employ slaves as attendants.Drawing from these institutions' untapped archives, Gonaver reveals how slavery influenced ideas about patient liberty, about the proper relationship between caregiver and patient, about what constituted healthy religious belief and unhealthy fanaticism, and about gender. This early form of psychiatric care acted as a precursor to public health policy for generations, and Gonaver's book fills an important gap in the historiography of mental health and race in the nineteenth century.Beth A. English is director of the Liechtenstein Institute's Project on Gender in the Global Community at Princeton University. She also is a past president of the Southern Labor History Association. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoicesSupport our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/american-studies

56mins

15 Nov 2019

Episode artwork

Wendy Gonaver, "The Peculiar Institution and the Making of Modern Psychiatry, 1840–1880" (UNC Press, 2019)

New Books in Psychology

Dr. Wendy Gonaver discusses her book, The Peculiar Institution and the Making of Modern Psychiatry, 1840-1880 (University of North Carolina Press, 2019), the Eastern Lunatic Asylum in Virginia, and the roles that race, the institution of slavery, and slave labor played in the development of psychiatric diagnosis and care through the nineteenth century and beyond.Though the origins of asylums can be traced to Europe, the systematic segregation of the mentally ill into specialized institutions occurred in the United States only after 1800, just as the struggle to end slavery took hold. In this book, Wendy Gonaver examines the relationship between these two historical developments, showing how slavery and ideas about race shaped early mental health treatment in the United States, especially in the South. She reveals these connections through the histories of two asylums in Virginia: the Eastern Lunatic Asylum in Williamsburg, the first in the nation; and the Central Lunatic Asylum in Petersburg, the first created specifically for African Americans. Eastern Lunatic Asylum was the only institution to accept both slaves and free blacks as patients and to employ slaves as attendants.Drawing from these institutions' untapped archives, Gonaver reveals how slavery influenced ideas about patient liberty, about the proper relationship between caregiver and patient, about what constituted healthy religious belief and unhealthy fanaticism, and about gender. This early form of psychiatric care acted as a precursor to public health policy for generations, and Gonaver's book fills an important gap in the historiography of mental health and race in the nineteenth century.Beth A. English is director of the Liechtenstein Institute's Project on Gender in the Global Community at Princeton University. She also is a past president of the Southern Labor History Association. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoicesSupport our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/psychology

56mins

15 Nov 2019

Episode artwork

Wendy Gonaver, "The Peculiar Institution and the Making of Modern Psychiatry, 1840–1880" (UNC Press, 2019)

New Books in History

Dr. Wendy Gonaver discusses her book, The Peculiar Institution and the Making of Modern Psychiatry, 1840-1880 (University of North Carolina Press, 2019), the Eastern Lunatic Asylum in Virginia, and the roles that race, the institution of slavery, and slave labor played in the development of psychiatric diagnosis and care through the nineteenth century and beyond.Though the origins of asylums can be traced to Europe, the systematic segregation of the mentally ill into specialized institutions occurred in the United States only after 1800, just as the struggle to end slavery took hold. In this book, Wendy Gonaver examines the relationship between these two historical developments, showing how slavery and ideas about race shaped early mental health treatment in the United States, especially in the South. She reveals these connections through the histories of two asylums in Virginia: the Eastern Lunatic Asylum in Williamsburg, the first in the nation; and the Central Lunatic Asylum in Petersburg, the first created specifically for African Americans. Eastern Lunatic Asylum was the only institution to accept both slaves and free blacks as patients and to employ slaves as attendants.Drawing from these institutions' untapped archives, Gonaver reveals how slavery influenced ideas about patient liberty, about the proper relationship between caregiver and patient, about what constituted healthy religious belief and unhealthy fanaticism, and about gender. This early form of psychiatric care acted as a precursor to public health policy for generations, and Gonaver's book fills an important gap in the historiography of mental health and race in the nineteenth century.Beth A. English is director of the Liechtenstein Institute's Project on Gender in the Global Community at Princeton University. She also is a past president of the Southern Labor History Association. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoicesSupport our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/history

56mins

15 Nov 2019