Pinel in the Maghreb

in Colonial Madness

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print May 2007 | ISBN: 9780226429724
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226429779 | DOI:
Pinel in the Maghreb

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This chapter explores the condition of the mentally ill and the movement to reform mental health care in Tunisia, Morocco, and Algeria. The establishment of the Tunisian protectorate in 1881 and increasing European settlement in the Maghreb drew the attention of French doctors, students, politicians, tourists, and concerned citizens to the plight of the indigenous insane. For French psychiatrists, abusive treatment of the mentally ill in the North African colonies prompted a humanitarian call to arms. Images of fettered patients languishing in the maristans, or hospices for the mentally ill, called to mind the condition of the European insane before the reforms of the eighteenth century led by Philippe Pinel. Citing Pinel's legacy, French psychiatrists sought to modernize the care of the mentally ill in Algeria, Tunisia, and Morocco in the name of scientific progress. Their efforts, however, drew attention to the central paradox of asylum-based psychiatry. Reformers' propositions to deliver these patients from their chains aimed at confining the insane in institutional settings, limiting this liberation to the boundaries of the asylum.

Keywords: mental illness; reforms; mental health care; Tunisia; Morocco; Algeria; Maghreb; Philippe Pinel; asylum; psychiatry

Chapter.  12201 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of Science and Technology

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