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ERIC Number: EJ883515
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2010-Jun
Pages: 19
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-0030-9230
Before Ritalin: Children and Neurasthenia in the Netherlands
Bakker, Nelleke
Paedagogica Historica: International Journal of the History of Education, v46 n3 p383-401 Jun 2010
This article is concerned with the history of the neurological disorder that preceded ADHD: "neurasthenia" or nervousness, conceived of as a functional disease of the nervous system. Around 1900 it appeared on the scene of children's disorders and it disappeared at the time of the pharmacological turn in psychiatry by the late 1960s. In spite of a series of adversary conditions neurasthenia survived. To explain this the author traces the history of neurasthenia and its more popular equivalents through a discursive analysis of Dutch child-rearing literature. The focus is directed at the shifting content of the diagnosis, its symptoms and aetiology and on the advantages for people using this label. Neurasthenia is followed from the early twentieth century when "weak" or "oversensitive" nerves were discovered and discussed by experts, through the interwar years when schools were accused of producing "nervous" children and the disease had to compete with psychoanalytical "neurosis" and, finally, the immediate post Second World War period when concern for children's mental health increased rapidly and "nervositas" was one of its major expressions. The conclusion is drawn that childhood neurasthenia as a hereditary disease has been functional for experts, teachers, parents, and children in a variety of ways. (Contains 73 footnotes.)
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Netherlands