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The Good Wave Projec Group

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Otto Polyakov
Otto Polyakov

Instruktsiia Key Transformation


The production of films that could cultivate citizens healthy in mind and body was aproject that the Soviet film industry was not thought to be capable ofaccomplishing alone. Pedologists and psychologists were to play no less of animportant role in this process than the filmmaker. As Pravdoliubov asked in a 1927article, how would Soviet directors possibly manage to create successful films forchildren without any knowledge of young viewers' psycho-physiology, thecharacteristics of their thinking, perception, attention, imagination, or theirneeds, interests and demands?90 A range of research cells and laboratories founded in the 1920s began toaddress these questions, accumulating medical and scientific knowledge about thechild spectator. Relied upon to provide practical instructions and advice toSoviet film producers, health professionals took on an unprecedentedly prominentrole in the transformation of film industry practices.




instruktsiia key transformation



This paper reviews the development of early Soviet drug treatment approaches by focusing on the struggle for disciplinary power between leading social and mental hygienists and clinical psychiatrists as a defining moment for Soviet drug treatment speciality that became known as "narcology." From this vantage point, I engage in the examination of the rise and fall of various treatment methods and conceptualizations of addiction in Russian metropolitan centres and look at how they were imported (or not) to other Soviet republics. As clinical psychiatrists appeared as undisputed victors from the battle with social and mental hygienists, the entire narcological arsenal was subdued in order to serve the needs of mainstream psychiatry. However, what that 'mainstream' would be, was not entirely clear. When, in 1934, Aleksandr Rapoport insisted on the need for re-working narcological knowledge in line with the Marxist approach, he could only raise questions and recognise that there were almost no "dialectically illuminated scientific data" to address these questions. The maintenance treatment of opiate users, which emerged as the most effective one based on the results of a six-year study published in 1936, was definitely not attuned to the political and ideological environment of the late 1930s. Maintenance was rather considered as a temporary solution, in the absence of radical therapeutic measures to free Soviet society from "narkomania." As the Great Terror swept across the Soviet Union, Stalin's regime achieved its objective of eliminating drug addiction from the surface of public life by driving opiate users deep underground and incarcerating many of them in prisons and the Gulag camps. In the final section, I briefly discuss the changing perceptions of drug use during the World War II and outline subsequent transformations in Soviet responses to the post-war opiate addiction [Additional file 1].


However, the decline in the authority of social hygiene research on drinking that began soon after the first findings were published, the demise of the field as well as the subsequent fall of narkodispanser cannot be fully explained without looking at the confrontation between 'hygienists' and the mainstream, clinical psychiatrists. To be sure, social hygienists' claims of hegemony over the treatment of alcoholics could not be successful without overcoming the opposition from a professional group, whose interests were directly affected. Without any expertise in treating chronic alcoholics and 'dipsomaniacs' that already put them in a disadvantaged position, social hygienists had to come up with an efficient policy and therapeutic approach to habitual drinking. However, their emphasis on "cultural work" and temperance propaganda appeared as a long-term strategy rather than a quick solution of the problem in a country which was undergoing rapid (and often forced) transformations by the end of the 1920s [[11]: p188]. Moreover, often run by 'social hygienists-narcologists', narkodispansers did not deliver as much as Sholomovich was promising. As a result, clinical psychiatrists easily emerged as winners, who by the end of the decade regained their monopoly over alcoholism and drug addictions.


The ways in which some of these 'positive', innocent men would later discover themselves in the shoes of the Russian WWI veterans and undergo a crucial transformation from 'medical addicts' to 'psychopath addicts' constitute an issue which is ripe for scholarly research. But back in the 1940s, the state had to first pay its tribute to the 'hero addict', who sacrificed everything during the Great Patriotic War and saved the Motherland. Placing him in a psychiatric asylum or a neuro-psychiatric dispanser, which lacked personnel, lacked medicines, lacked food and was catastrophically overcrowded, and making him go through the abrupt withdrawal method which he could hardly survive, would be an ultimate disgrace to the Soviet state [35]. 041b061a72


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