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Some may recall an article posted back in May in regard a most remarkable woman whose life story is both poignant and powerful.  It was entitled,  Alice Ricciardi-von Platen: Against the Grain, courtesy of Vaughan over at MindHacks.  MindHacks is currently undergoing a move to a new home and unable to accept comments temporarily.  A reminder:


I’ve just discovered the powerful story of the German psychiatrist Alice Ricciardi-von Platen. She refused to take part in the growing eugenics movement in the 1930s Germany that targeted people with mental illness for sterilisation and euthanasia, resisted the Nazi party and wrote a book documenting Nazi medical abuses of psychiatric patients after being asked to observe the Doctors Trial at Nuremberg.


As a result, she was ostracised from the German medical community and her book was repressed. It wasn’t rediscovered by German historians until thirty years after it was published in 1948.


Afterwards she became highly respected for her work developing group therapy and worked in Britain and Italy right into her late nineties.


There is surprisingly little about her online or in the academic literature although she received two glowing obituaries in the British press when she died in 2008.


We like to think that each of us would stand up to human rights abuses even if everyone else around us was involved but we know from countless social psychology experiments that it is an incredibly difficult thing to do. Consequently, I always have immense admiration for people like Ricciardi-von Platen who did so in the most difficult of circumstances.


We also like to think that the Nuremberg trials put an end to the political abuse of psychiatry but a recent article Schizophrenia Bulletin tracked the history of these abusive practices noting that they have been regularly used throughout the 20th century and into the 21st.


From the Soviet use of sluggishly progressing schizophrenia to silence dissidents, to the Nazi’s incorporation of psychiatry into eugenics, to psychiatrists’ collaboration with torture during dictatorial regimes in Latin America, to China’s use of psychiatric hospitals to persecute Falun Gong members and to the collaboration with ‘war on terror’ torture in the US (albeit in the light of outright condemnation from the American Psychiatric Association).


Sadly, psychiatry has been co-opted many times over as a tool of oppression. Complacency is the enabler of these abuses and people like Alice Ricciardi-von Platen are a reminder that even the most powerful forces can be resisted.



Link to obituary from The Times.
Link to obituary from The Guardian.


http://www.aspie-editorial.com/2011/01/22/alice-ricciardi-von-platen-against-the-grain/

 

 

Ms Ricciardi von Platen’s daughter-in-law, Bernadine Grafin Platen Hallermu is currently seeking assistance in financing the very valuable project of having her mother-in-law’s biography published in both German and English.  Ms Grafin Platen Hallermu wrote yesterday, “I have initiated the process of having a biography written, which is planned to be published by the Campus Publishing Company in the first half of 2012. Writers are expensive and I am currently looking for help in financing this project in the hope that the book will be released not only in the German but also in the English language and her fascinating story, spanning almost an entire Century, will finally be told.”


For anyone wishing to assist, please leave a comment either privately or publicly here. Thankyou.

 


1. sample_2010 left…

Monday, 8 November 2010 10:30 am

Dear Bernadine Grafin Platen Hallermu, i write from the University of Bari. We published a book on Alice von Platen in the 2010. We would like to send you a copy of the book. If you want contact me, i give you this temporary email address. If you write to this address, i’ll give you my real address. Thanks. sample_2010@libero.it


2. Helen Tomkins left…

Saturday, 15 January 2011 2:01 pm

Dear Bernardine, I am a very old friend of Alice’s and last saw her in 2003 at Cortona. We kept in touch over many years from 1959 until her death. I would have liked to be at her funeral. I don’t know that I can help much with financing the biograph, though I would like to. There are other things I would like to ask – could you send me your email to my email above. I found the black background very difficult to read. Yours with my good wishes for 2011 Helen Tomkins (nee Caruana Galizia)



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