Therapy in Neurology – Neurological Gymnastics between Kurort and Academic Medicine, 1880-1933

Katja Guenther, Princeton University

Philadelphia Area Center for History of Science, Regional Colloquium

Friday, April 22, 2011 - 5:00pm

The College of Physicians of Philadelphia, 19 S. 22nd Street.

Abstract: This paper examines two interconnected themes. First, it focuses on a neglected topic in the history of neurology: therapy, and in particular a form of movement therapy (Übungstherapie) that developed in the German-speaking world in the late nineteenth century. Second, it suggests that the development of this form of therapeutics contributed to the formation of neurology as a medical discipline, distinct from psychiatry and internal medicine. The paper traces how Übungstherapie developed in the peculiar medical space of the spa town (Kurort), and found cultural plausibility by aligning itself with the German Turnbewegung (gymnastics movement). It then follows Übungstherapie as it moved out of the spa context into the heart of academic medicine, recasting itself as an integral part of neurological practice. Katja Guenther specializes in the history of modern medicine and the mind sciences. She is a trained doctor (M.D., University of Cologne) who has worked in hospitals in Germany, France, and the United Kingdom, and holds a research degree in neuroscience (M.Sc., Oxford University). She embarked on the study of the history of science and medicine at Harvard University before coming to Princeton on the completion of her Ph.D. in 2009. Her work has been funded by the ACLS/ Mellon Foundation, the Krupp Foundation, the Medical Research Council, and the Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes. Carin Berkowitz is the associate director of the Chemical Heritage Foundation's Beckman Center, where she works with CHF fellows and Philadelphia-area historians of science to continue to develop CHF as a center for independent research and scholarly community.