This article investigates how an imported Soviet psychiatric model affected Bulgarians who experienced psychological crisis by examining therapeutic possibilities that were available and foreclosed in the People’s Republic of Bulgaria. Bulgarians struggling with psychological disorders in the present day experience polar forms of marginalization: non-recognition on one extreme, and chronic medicalization on the other. Both tendencies can be traced to the Communist-period remodeling of mental healthcare, which outlawed private practice and individual-centered therapy, which reified empirically observable, physiological underpinnings of pathology while suppressing therapies that engaged with the existential context of mental illness. I argue that the reproduction of a Soviet psychiatric model instigated a modernization process but failed to anticipate the idiosyncrasy of economic and social conditions within the country. Furthermore, that this model rejected a therapeutic focus on the individual but developed no effective alternative for identifying and treating subjective characteristics of mental illness. Bulgaria’s history of psychiatry has received little scholarly attention beyond Bulgarian psychiatrists who documented the development of their field. This article presents archival, literary and oral history footholds towards the development of a social history of Bulgarian psychiatry—a perspective that is especially and problematically missing.
"Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry" – Springer Journals
Published: Nov 18, 2017
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