Professor Dany Nobus to receive Sarton Medal

The Sarton Committee of the University of Ghent has announced that Professor Dany Nobus, Chair of the Trustees of the Freud Museum London, will be awarded the 2016-17 Sarton Medal, in recognition of his many outstanding contributions to the history and theory of psychoanalysis.

The Medal is named after George Sarton (1884-1956), who is considered the founding father of the history of science as an academic discipline, and who was an alumnus of Ghent University.

Professor Nobus was proposed by the University’s Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences, and his nomination was subsequently ratified by the Sarton Committee.

The Medal will be bestowed at a public ceremony on 27 April 2017. Following the laudatio Professor Nobus will deliver a public lecture entitled ‘Freud Unbound: The Shaping of Psychoanalysis by the Great War’. In the lecture he will investigate the historical reasons as to why psychoanalysis, both in theory and clinical practice, gained so much momentum after World War I.

Professor Nobus will argue that psychoanalysis benefited enormously from the great war, so much so that Freud wrote to his colleague Sandor Ferenczi in Hungary saying that in one sense it was a shame the war was over: “No sooner does it [psychoanalysis] begin to interest the world on account of the war neuroses than the war ends.”

During WW1 many soldiers returned from the front with so-called shell-shock syndrome, not showing any observable internal and/or external lesions, yet displaying the same motor and sensory symptoms as hysterical patients. This observation made many clinicians reconsider the value of psychoanalysis, and in the end the psychoanalytic theory of neurosis (and its application to war neurosis) prevailed as an explanation.

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