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Histories of suspicion in a time of conspiracy: a reflection on Aubrey Lewis's history of paranoia

By David J. Harper


In this paper, I will develop a reading of an account of the history of the category of mental disorder known as 'paranoia', written by an eminent British psychiatrist, Aubrey Lewis. The analysis will draw on both the ideological context in which the account is embedded and the interests dominant and subjugated within the text. I will argue that Lewis' paper depicts the history of paranoia as continuous, scientific, coherent and empirically optimistic and thus renders itself acontextual, failing to pay regard to a whole range of influences both on its development as a concept (ideological, professional, political and so on) and in its practical usage

Year: 1994
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