'The winds of change are blowing': Australian psychiatry and anti-psychiatry in the 1960s

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Wilson, E. (2012). 'The winds of change are blowing': Australian psychiatry and anti-psychiatry in the 1960s. In S. Robinson & J. Ustinoff (Eds.), The 1960s in Australia: People, power and politics (pp. 97- 122). Tyne, United Kingdom: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.

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2012 HERDC submission. FoR code: 220207

© Copyright Shirleene Robinson and Julie Ustinoff and contributors, 2012





The 1960s was a revolutionary decade in many ways, and psychiatry was far from immune from societal pressures. The profession was at a nexus between developments in society and their effects on medicine as a whole; certainly, many members of the profession felt that they were the focus of pressures originating in societal upheavals which would have repercussions on all facets of medical practice. The result of this feeling was a strong defensive reaction, which reveals a great deal about both the profession and the impact of the 1960’s on Australian society generally.

This article uses the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry (ANZJP) to explore the Australian psychiatric profession’s reaction to many of the developments of the 1960s, and in particular debates about their role in the changing world. This conservative organ of the official psychiatric profession in Australasia reported on many of the developments of the period. While it tended, unsurprisingly, to be defensive of outside criticism of the profession, it of necessity, had to acknowledge many of the currents swirling within it, and the many ‘anti-psychiatry’ ideas which were promulgated or adopted by psychiatry during this pivotal decade was also highlighted. The majority of articles considered in this paper were published in the 1970s, but refer to developments of the previous decade. This reflects the time lag in adopting new ideas and acknowledging the changing society faced by the Journal.

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