Author(s): Herrn R, Friedland A
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Abstract This paper tests the applicability of the qualitative analytical method known as "Grounded Theory" for examining archival patient records. We take the introduction of schizophrenia as a diagnosis in the "Psychiatrische und Nervenklinik der Charit√©" in Berlin around 1920 as an example to ask about the norms that influenced psychiatrists' clinical judgments. In a first, introductory section of the essay, we demonstrate the specific steps of an analysis based on Grounded Theory by applying it to our material and highlighting some of the difficulties we encountered in the process. In the second part of the essay, we identify three levels of medical normativity: first, general norms for dealing with patients in the course of the clinic's procedures; second, norms that extend the diagnostic gaze in time to the period before the patients' hospitalization; and third, norms for evaluating symptoms according to emotional knowledge when psychiatrists lacked objective methods for measuring affects. In the last part of the paper, we discuss the advantages and disadvantages of applying this method to archival patient records.
This article was published in Medizinhist J
and referenced in Bipolar Disorder: Open Access