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Att bota en drinkare: idéer och praktik i svensk alkoholistvård 1885 - 1916
Örebro University, Department of Humanities.
2004 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)Alternative title
To cure a drunkard : ideas and practice in swedish alcoholic treatment 1885 - 1916 (English)
Abstract [sv]

The focus for this thesis is the alcoholic care in Sweden from the establishment of the first alcoholic institution in 1885 and the years right after the compulsory care act was passed in 1913. In the thesis the practical activity at the four first alcoholic institutions is examined, but also the ideas concerning alcoholic care that were formulated by the men that were the institutions initiators and responsible for the activities.

The research has its starting point in and also confirms care as a sociocultural phenomenon and not merely a medical issue, and that there is an agreement in terms of meaning between the ideals expressed by the medicine as well as other societal interests. Both idea and actual practice have been examined in order to answer the question how the alcoholic care was shaped as a result of the medicalization of the drunkenness problem, but also the consequences of this alcoholic care. Especially the American and the British research position has proved that conceptions about will and morals have been significant to the shaping of a care ideology concerning the alcoholism and its treatment. A second question the research has intended to answer is if, an if then how, such conceptions affected the care ideology and the actual care in practice also in Sweden.

One of the results of this thesis is that the early alcoholic care in Sweden ideologically claimed to represent and originate from medical principles and knowledge, even though the treatment methods proposed and practiced originated from the conception about alcoholism as a willpower illness. The purpose with the treatment was primarily to affect the will and moral and consequently the traditional medical science and pharmaceutics were given a subordinated position compared to the medical methods that proceeded from a holistic view on the human, as for example hypnosis and water therapy. The treatment was also individualized according to a relation between the doctor and each patient.

The examinations confirm the alcoholic care as a sociocultural phenomenon that aimed at and resulted in functions where medical interests coincided with those of the society in general. This is shown by the fact that treatment methods as well as the aim with the alcoholic’s treatment were the same at those kinds of institutions with a medical starting point as well as at the Floda colonies, in spite of the fact that the latter was an alcoholic institution that dismissed alcoholism as a medical issue.

The first alcoholic institutions functioned as improvement machines, where alcoholics regarded as bad for the society were pressed in at the one end, to in the other come out as ideal men and citizens - hard working family men, self-controlled and physically powerful. With these ideals medical definitions of health coincided with social definitions of the meaning of being a worthy citizen.

Among the foremost consequences of the first alcoholic care was the presentation of an alternative solution on the societal problem drunkenness and an optimistic belief in the alcoholic’s potential to be cured. Other consequences were the ones that concerned the individual – a state of illness will result in changes in the individual’s status in society and that the ill person has to admit to be the deviating one that is to be corrected. On the side of the therapeutical function, the first alcoholic care also had a normative function, though only within the social class that the heads at the institutions themselves belonged to. The alcoholic care was during this period accordingly not an expression for the upper classes’ social control of the lower classes, but rather a self improvement project by the middle class. Finally the alcoholic care during the examined period also had consequences for the later alcoholic care. During the period 1885 – about 1916 the practical experiences made lead to a revision of the care ideology. A private alcoholic care for volunteering patients was still the principle, but in reality an increased state involvement as well as force could be motivated.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Örebro: Örebro universitetsbibliotek , 2004. , p. 303
Series
Örebro Studies in History, ISSN 1650-2418 ; 5
Keyword [en]
Historia, alcoholism, alcoholism treatment, alcoholism treatment institutions, historia
National Category
History
Research subject
History
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:oru:diva-85ISBN: 91-7668-418-0 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:oru-85DiVA, id: diva2:137351
Public defence
2004-12-17, Hörsal F, Forumhuset, Örebro universitet, Örebro, 10:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2004-11-24 Created: 2004-11-24 Last updated: 2017-10-18Bibliographically approved

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Prestjan, Anna

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