CFP – Useful Film in (Neuro) Psychiatry Europe, 1900–1950. Update on Current Research

Workshop – University of Lausanne 3-4 March 2022

Since its inception, the cinematograph had many applications in the medical field, and particularly in the fields of psychiatry, neurology and neuropsychiatry (Lorusso & Venturini 2019). With surgeons, neurologists and psychiatrists are at the forefront of using film as a tool for analyzing, storing, archiving, and transmitting knowledge. For a long time, the (neuro) psychiatric films made by doctors as part of their teaching and research have been overshadowed by educational and health films. But since 2000, and especially 2010, scholars from different disciplines are increasingly interested in these practices. Several interdisciplinary teams have conducted research, with the aim of rehabilitating film as a privileged source for both the history of medicine and the history of cinema.

This interest stems partly from discoveries of films thought to be lost, such as the Magnus-Rademaker collection (1909–1940) (Koehler, Lameris & Hielscher 2015; Koehler & Lameris 2016). We can also mention the research in Italy on the Vincenzo Neri collection (Lorusso, Vanone & Venturini 2012; Vanone, Lorusso & Venturini 2015; Venturini & Lorusso 2013); in Germany on the Arthur Simmons and Max Nonne collections (Holdorff 2010, 2012, 2016); in Belgium on the Van Gehuchten collection (Aubert 2002a, 2002b, 2009, 2016); or in Rumania on the G. Marinescu collection (Buda et al. 2009). All these studies, and many others, show the dynamism of a field of research in continuous expansion.

Scholars face several challenges in front of films made by mental health professionals. How to locate objects that are poorly (or not at all) identified? How to understand them in the absence of sufficient information about their production and distribution context? How to work on films that are in poor condition? How to solve problems of access to sensitive data? How to establish productive transdisciplinary collaborations? Indeed, there is still much to be done to build on these documents defying traditional classifications (e.g. the distinction between documentary and fiction) and even escape knowledge altogether, as they “sleep” at the bottom of a closet, in a hospital, a bunker or the cellar of private owners.

Such investigations involve observing the contexts in which the film medium is used. But also, how scientific practices, observation protocols and discursive logics discipline-specific shape the medium and the uses of film. If the film is embedded in a preexisting framework that it modifies, it is itself also transformed in return by its environment of use. For this reason, it would be essential to question the consensus on the epistemic value of the “medical gaze” as mediated by film.

Focusing on the study of films shown in medical institutions, in lecture halls and at scientific conferences, this workshop has several goals: to map the state of research on works devoted to useful films in the field of neurology, psychiatry and neuropsychiatry, in Europe between 1900 and 1950; to highlight investigations on poorly known or unknown film collections; to serve as a starting point for one to two publications (journal issues). The main purpose is thus to increase our knowledge on practices that have long been considered “marginal” both in the medical humanities and in the history of cinema (and the media

We seek papers that may provide some answers to one or other of these questions:

  • In which context (historical, institutional, scientific, etc.) do doctors appropriated the filmic medium?
  • What are their needs and expectations regarding film?
  • What are their explicit and implicit goals?
  • What conception(s) of cinema underlie(s) the use of the moving image?
  • What formal elements of the technology are considered productive or counterproductive?
  • Which criteria lead doctors to emphasize certain technical properties of the medium to the expense of others?
  • Which issues are raised by the films in the medical community?
  • How are the films distributed and watched?
Film reel, Waldau collections, Cinémathèque suisse (picture by MB)

Contributions can include but are not limited to the following topics:

  • Study of specific film collections, or other related media as film operates in conjunction with other visual media (Lorusso, Venturini 2019)
  • Methodological issues raised by the examination of such sources, including issues related to their preservation and storage
  • Theoretical questions, as long as they are supported by a case study
  • Investigation of institutional or personal synergies on a European scale (Switzerland, France, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands, Great Britain, etc.), given the intense circulation of medical expertise during the twentieth century

Organization committee: Mireille Berton, Elodie Murtas, Raphaël Tinguely

Scientific committee: Mireille Berton, Christian Bonah, Peter Koehler, Lorenzo Lorusso, Simone Venturini

Proposals submission

  • Abstract submission deadline: October 30, 2021
  • Ideally, each abstract should articulate: 1) an issue or research question to be discussed, 2) a source-based case study 3) a methodological or critical framework used, and 4) expected findings or conclusions
  • Decisions will be communicated to the authors by November 30, 2021
  • Title and abstract (400 words max.), and a short bio (200 words max.) should be submitted in Word format to Mireille.Berton@unil.ch 

Practical info

  • Language: English
  • Location: University of Lausanne, Dorigny campus, Switzerland
  • Expenses covered: one night’s accommodation, meals, travel within Europe
  • No payment from the participants will be required
  • Contact: Mireille.Berton@unil.ch or Raphael.Tinguely@unil.ch

Timeline

  • October 30, 2021: application deadline
  • November 30, 2021: notification of acceptance
  • February 1, 2022: submission of a long abstract (500-600 words)
  • March 3-4, 2022: workshop
  • September 1, 2022: submission of the articles for publication

Bibliography

AUBERT, Geneviève (2016), “Cinema and Neuroscience: Development and Application of Cinematography in the Field of Neurosciences”, Journal of History of Neurosciences, Vol. 25, Nr. 1, 1–2.

AUBERT, Geneviève (2009), “Neurological Illustration: From Photography to Cinematography”, Handbook of Clinical Neurology, Nr. 95, 289–302.

AUBERT, Geneviève (2002a), “Arthur Van Gehuchten Takes Neurology to the Movies”, Neurology, Vol. 59, Nr. 10 (November 26), 1612–1618.

AUBERT, Geneviève (2002b), “From Photography to Cinematography: Recording Movement and Gait in a Neurological Context”, Journal of the History of Neuroscences, Nr. 11, 248–257.

Buda O., Arsene D., Ceausu M., Dermengiu D. & Curca G. C. (2009), “Georges Marinesco and the Early Research in Neuropathology”, Neurology, Vol. 72, Nr. 1 (January 6), 88–91.

CURTIS, Scott (2016), “Dissecting the Medical Training Film”, in Marta Braun, Charlie Keil, Rob King, Paul Moore & Louis Pelletier (ed.), Beyond the Screen. Institutions, Networks and Publics of Early Cinema, Bloomington, Indiana University Press, 161–167.

CURTIS, Scott (2015), The Shape of Spectatorship. Art, Science, and Early Cinema in Germany, New York, Columbia University Press.

HOLDORFF, Bernd (2016), “Arthur Simons (1877-1942) and Tonic Neck Reflexes With Hemiplegic ‘Mitbewegungen’ (Associated Reactions): Cinematography From 1916-1919”, Journal of History of Neurosciences, Vol. 25, Nr. 1, 63–71.

HOLDORFF, Bernd (2012), “Arthur Simons (1877-1942) über tonische Halsreflexe beim Hemiplegiker mit Demonstration seines Film (mit Fällen aus den Jahren 1916-1919)”, Der Nervenartz, Nr. 83, 514–520.

HOLDORFF, Bernd (2010), “Max Nonne und die Kriegsneurose: Mit Filmdarstellung der Kriegszitterer vor und nach Hypnose von Max Nonne/Hamburg (1918). Zur Erinnerung an Max Nonnes 50. Todestag”, Schriftenreihe der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Geschichte der Nervenheilkunde, Nr. 16, 197–208.

LORUSSO, Lorenzo & VENTURINI, Simone (2020), “Cinema and Neurology: From History to Therapy”, dans Bruno Colombo (ed.), Brain and Art. From Æsthetics to Therapeutics, Cham/CH, Springer, 95–120.

LORUSSO, Lorenzo, VANONE, Federico & VENTURINI, Simone (2012), “L’arrivo e le sue tracce: la collezione Vincenzo Neri”, Immagine. Note di storia del cinema, Nr. 6 (July-August), 32–54.

KOEHLER, Peter J., LAMERIS, Bregt & HIELSCHER, Eva (2016), “Neurocinematography in Pre-World War II Netherlands: The Magnus-Rademaker Collection”, Journal of the History of the Neurosciences, Vol. 25, Nr. 1, 84–101.

KOEHLER, Peter, J. & LAMERIS, Bregt (2016), “The Magnus-Rademaker Scientific Film Collection: Ethical Issues on Animal Experimentation (1908-1940)”, Journal of History of Neurosciences, Vol. 25, Nr. 1, 102–121.

VENTURINI, Simone & LORUSSO, Lorenzo (2013), “Vincenzo Neri: Anatomy of a Finding”, Tijdschrift voor Mediageschiedenis, Vol. 16, Nr. 1, 112–116.

Neuropatologia (Camillo Negro) 1915 – Museo del cinema

Les films neuropsychiatriques d’Ernst Grünthal au Laboratoire d’anatomie cérébrale (LAC) de la Waldau

(Résumé du projet de thèse sous la direction de Mireille Berton, MER-UNIL)

Les archives d’Ernst Grünthal (1894-1972) conservées par le Musée de la Psychiatrie de Berne constituent un patrimoine tout à fait exceptionnel puisqu’elles permettent de retracer l’histoire des films du psychiatre réalisés au sein du Laboratoire d’anatomie cérébrale (LAC) de la Waldau entre 1934 et 1965.

C’est en effet au cours de ces années-là qu’Ernst Grünthal supervise et tourne, sur le site de l’hôpital psychiatrique de Berne, plus d’une centaine de courts et moyens métrages 16 mm mettant en scène des patientes et des patients qui souffrent de troubles psychiatriques ou neurologiques (dépression, alcoolisme, schizophrénie, démence sénile, troubles mnésiques, troubles du langage, maladie de Parkinson, chorée de Huntington, etc.).

La recherche a donc pour but de reconstituer la nature, le contexte et le rôle de ces films. Il s’agira de montrer de quelle manière le cinéma est intégré, au quotidien, dans les activités de recherches du LAC : comment Ernst Grünthal se familiarise-t-il avec le dispositif cinématographique ? Quel type de matériel mobilise-t-il ? Dans quel(s) but(s) fait-il appel au cinéma ? Quelle place occupent concrètement les patientes et les patients au moment des tournages ? Quels sont les principaux interlocuteurs et interlocutrices d’Ernst Grünthal à la Waldau et hors les murs de l’institution ? Quelles sont les conditions de diffusion et de circulation de l’ensemble des films du psychiatre à l’échelle de la Suisse ?

À partir de ces analyses, il faudra ensuite mener une réflexion théorique plus critique sur l’emploi du « film utilitaire » (film qui vise à faire passer un message) et du « film éphémère » (film qui possède une durée de vie très courte) dans le champ de la neuropsychiatrie. Trop souvent négligées dans l’historiographie classique, ces catégories offrent de fait la possibilité de saisir les enjeux pratiques, discursifs et épistémologiques, caractéristiques du cinéma de non-fiction et du cinéma non-commercial auxquels on peut aisément rattacher les films du LAC.

Enfin, il s’avérera utile de se pencher plus avant sur les politiques d’archivage de l’hôpital psychiatrique bernois qui ont permis de sauvegarder de nombreuses pellicules très fragiles des assauts du temps. Cette volonté de préservation se trouve notamment incarnée par le célèbre psychiatre de la Waldau Walter Morgenthaler qui, dès le tournant des années 1900, en appelle à la création d’un centre d’archives national réunissant les artéfacts de divers asiles, hôpitaux et cliniques psychiatriques.

Laboratoire d’anatomie cérébrale (LAC) de la Waldau (env. 1950)