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The Case of Psychosocial Work: The Pedagogic Discourse of Psychosocial Work in Sweden 1938-1989
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Social Work.
2007 (English)In: Social Work Education. The International Journal, ISSN 0261-5479, Vol. 26, no 3, 261-279 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This article examines the pedagogic discourse of The Mental Hygiene Course (1939–1970) and the subsequent Training in Social Treatment (1971–1989), in Stockholm.The aim is to investigate the development of the psychosocial concept in Sweden; how it was expressed when adapted to the changing discourses of psychiatry and psychoanalysis

and to the regulative discourses of social policy during the time. The interpretation is undertaken through the guidelines of critical discourse analysis and Bernstein’s structural model of the discourse of education. The outcome of the textual analysis showed that the

psychiatric and regulative discourses were transmitted into the local context of social work by a technique of case writing, and the social worker/client relationship of the cases was, throughout the period, congruent with current scientific assumptions and predominant social policy. In conclusion, the concept of psychosocial work from the 1980s, which is still in use, is a mixture of psychiatric and psychoanalytic assumptions and political demands, certifying both the function of social work and the status of the client. Finally, the problems of psychosocial work attached to the dependency of social policy and psychiatric knowledge are discussed in relation to the outcome of the investigation.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Routledge , 2007. Vol. 26, no 3, 261-279 p.
Keyword [en]
Psychosocial Work, Mental Hygiene, Training Course, Pedagogic Discourse, Social Work History
National Category
Social Work
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-6807OAI: diva2:197089
Available from: 2007-04-25 Created: 2007-04-25 Last updated: 2013-01-08Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Normalitetens gränser: En studie om 1900-talets mentalhygieniska diskurser
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Normalitetens gränser: En studie om 1900-talets mentalhygieniska diskurser
2005 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The comprehensive aim of the dissertation is to examine how ideas about mental hygiene have been elaborated and debated within the context of Swedish welfare. The dissertation is a compilation of four articles where issues of mental hygiene are examined in detail through an analysis of texts. In addition, a theoretical and methodological framework and a discussion of the concepts of mental health and normality are asserted to the dissertation. The subjects of research are (1) the launching of the movement in USA in the early twentieth, and the autobiographical narrative "A Mind That Found Itself" (Beers 1908), (2) the conception and the evolution of the movement in Sweden, (3) the psychosocial training within the education of social workers between the years 1939 –1989, and (4) the debate about the Mental health Campaign in 1969. The issues of mental hygiene and mental health discussed in the articles are elaborated in relation to the academic disciplines of Sociology of Health and Illness and the History of Public Health. The theoretical approach of these disciplines proceeds from a post-structural and social constructivist perspective of knowledge and language, a perspective also used in the interpretation of the textual materials. The section where the research methods are presented, consists of a description of how the textual materials have been selected and treated in relation to the theoretical and methodological standpoints.

The outcome of the investigation of the autobiographical book

"A Mind That Found Itself" (Beers 1908) in relation to the launching of the movement in the USA, is that the monomyth-character of the story supported an image of victory and hope, important for the movements aims to improve the reputation of psychiatry. Concerning the launching of the mental hygiene movement in Sweden two important conditions stands out as the course behind the rather hesitant start: the dominant position of custodial care and the antagonistic attitude towards psychoanalytical theories. The study of the psychosocial training of social workers showed how the skills of the clinical gaze were taught to the students by the technique of case-writing. The study of the Mental Health campaign in 1969 showed important divergences concerning the opinions of normality. Since the individual anatomy in the welfare system in Sweden is organised through the individuals position within the labour market, the issues of mental health and allied opinions of normality also contained the risks of exclusion. In conclusion, a comprehensive reflection concerning the results of the studies, is that the concept of mental hygiene, due to the mix of psychiatric and social knowledge, mediated shifting ideas about normality.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Institutionen för socialt arbete - Socialhögskolan, 2005. 206 p.
Rapport i socialt arbete, ISSN 0281-6288 ; 111-205
mental hygiene, public mental health, spychosocial work, normality
National Category
Social Work
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-445 (URN)91-7155-005-4 (ISBN)
Public defence
2005-04-23, Aula Svea, Socialhögskolan, Sveaplan, Stockholm, 10:00

At the time of the doctoral defence the following papers were unpublished and had s status as follows: Papar nr. 1: Manuscript; Paper nr. 3 Accepted Manuscript; Paper nr. 4: Manuscript.

Available from: 2005-04-06 Created: 2005-04-06 Last updated: 2013-01-08Bibliographically approved

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