As editors of the special issue, we try to summarize here the historiographic trends of the field. We argue that the field of research is accommodating the diversity of the institutional, social and political developments. But there is no narrative in sight which can explain the psychiatry of the 20th century, comparable to the authoritative coherence achieved for the 19th century. In contrast, the efforts to extend these narratives to the 20th century are largely missing the most impressive transformation of psychiatric treatment — and self-definition.
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