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Ind Psychiatry J. 2018 Jan-Jun;27(1):21-26. doi: 10.4103/ipj.ipj_69_16.

History of psychiatry: An Indian perspective.

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Department of Psychiatry, Central Institute of Psychiatry, Ranchi, Jharkhand, India.


A knowledge of history becomes important in learning the way concepts have evolved and how they are understood in different and conflicting traditions in psychiatry. Modern psychiatry and its history has always been observed through the prism of western science which has its own evolutionary line in which the eastern sciences can't fit and are always at a disadvantage. Especially the colonial bid to prove its legitimacy as a civilizing mission led to representation of European medicine as morally superior to the eastern practices resulting in a biased history. Though in reality, the history of psychiatry is heterogeneous and consists of many different scientific and cultural traditions which vary between populations. hence the Indian concept of "unmada" can't be compared or conformed to "schizophrenia" without addressing its cultural and historical contexts. Many suggest that in case of Indian patients, an understanding of illness through a Vedantic model of psych seems more appealing in comparison to the western constructs, as such an attitude has been transferred over generations. Therefore, a knowledge of history of psychiatry, especially from an Indian perspective becomes important.


History; India; psychiatry

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