Psychiatry of the ‘in-between’ world: Revolution and re-imagining the psyche in socialist Yugoslavia

Lecture format: on site + online.
Room: 2R-EG-07 (lecture hall of the Institute for Eastern European History).
Street address: Spitalgasse 2, Campus of the University of Vienna, Hof 3.

This lecture explores the relationship between psychiatry and political ideology in the context of the Cold War and non-alignment. It focuses on the importance of revolution and ideas of radical reform for the development of socialist psychiatry in Yugoslavia. It looks at how the experience of social and political revolution transformed the clinical practice and intellectual frameworks of Yugoslavia’s ‘psy’ disciplines but also how the concept of revolution and reform was worked into psychiatric theories and initiatives.

Following the Second World War, Yugoslav psychiatrists’ theorisation of the interplay between broader societal influences and individual psyche developed in a direction much more radical than mainstream social psychiatry in western Europe had ever seen. At the same time, in addition to reshaping psychiatry, the revolution became one of its central themes, and Yugoslav psychiatry dedicated significant efforts to describing, interpreting, and treating psychological consequences of the socialist revolution.

The lecture places these developments in the context of Yugoslavia’s multiple globalizations and internationalizations, and explores Yugoslav psychiatrists’ contacts with the decolonizing world, analyzing how their ideas of revolutionary psychiatry at home shaped their contributions to broader political discussions about decolonization, anti-imperialism and non-alignment.

Ana Antic is a professor of European history and medical humanities at the University of Copenhagen, where she directs the Centre for Culture and the Mind. She is the author of Therapeutic Fascism: Experiencing the Violence of the Nazi New Order (2017) and Non-aligned psychiatry in the Cold War (2022).

Please note that registration is required only from those guests who wish to participate via ZOOM broadcast.