Seeking to align psychiatric practice with general medicine following the inauguration of the National Health Service, psychiatric hospitals in post-war Britain deployed new treatments designed to induce somatic change, such as ECT, leucotomy and sedatives. Advocates of these treatments, often grouped together under the term 'physical therapies', expressed relief that the social problems encountered by patients could now be interpreted as symptomatic of underlying biological malfunction rather than as a cause of disorder that required treatment. Drawing on the British Journal of Psychiatric Social Work, this article analyses the critique articulated by psychiatric social workers based within hospitals who sought to facilitate the social reintegration of patients following treatment. It explores the development of 'psychiatric social treatment', an approach devised by psychiatric social workers to meet the needs of people with enduring mental health problems in hospital and community settings that sought to alleviate distress and improve social functioning by changing an individual's social environment and interpersonal relationships. 'Physical' and 'social' models of psychiatric treatment, this article argues, contested not only the aetiology of mental illness but also the nature of care, treatment and cure.
|Publication status||Published - Apr 2011|