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Psychiatry and Surrealism

  • Patrick Bracken (a1)
Extract

A recent edition of the Bulletin contained a letter which was originally published in La Révolution Surréaliste 60 years ago. The letter was probably written by André Breton and was basically an attack on psychiatry as then practised in France and in particular on the process of involuntary admission. The letter appeared in the Bulletin under the title ‘An Historical Vignette: Surrealism and Anti-Psychiatry’. While there can be little doubt that the surrealists were antagonistic to psychiatry I would like to argue that a great deal of their work is of potential interest to psychiatrists. The surrealist movement was opposed to any form of rationalism. It was opposed to anything which could possibly limit the imagination and this was the source of its conflict with psychiatry. But surrealist art and literature was essentially an exploration of the bizarre, the irrational and the unconscious and these are subjects which are, of necessity, of importance to the psychiatrist and the psychotherapist.

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Copyright
This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY) license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
References
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1. La Revolution Surréaliste (1984) An historical vignette: surrealism and anti-psychiatry. Bulletin of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, 8, 175.
2. Balakian, A. (1972) Surrealism: The Road to the Absolute. Page 131. London: Unwin Books.
3. Breton, A. (1969) Manifestoes of Surrealism. Page 14. University of Michigan Press.
4. Breton, A. (1969) Manifestoes of Surrealism. Page 160. University of Michigan Press.
5. Ades, D. (1982) Dali. Page 121. London: Thames & Hudson.
6. Breton, A. (1978) What is Surrealism? Page 49. London: Pluto Press.
7. Ades, D. (1982) Dali. Page 82. London: Thames & Hudson.
8. Ades, D. (1982) Dali. Page 126. London: Thames & Hudson.
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BJPsych Bulletin
  • ISSN: 0140-0789
  • EISSN: 2514-9954
  • URL: /core/journals/bjpsych-bulletin
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Psychiatry and Surrealism

  • Patrick Bracken (a1)
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