The Greer Lecture in Latin American History Series presents "Psychoanalyzing the Possessed"

Manuella Meyers

Date: Tuesday, Sep 26, 2023

Start time: 5:00 p.m.

End time: 6:15 p.m.

Location: James Branch Cabell Library, Room 303, 3rd floor* Please note change of location

Audience: Free and open to the public

“Psychoanalyzing the Possessed: Spirits of the Dead in Early Rio de Janeiro, Brazil” examines how the borders and circumstances of madness were defined and redefined by psychiatrists, spiritist mediums and candomblé healers in early twentieth century Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. It brings into focus the ways in which different experts responded to the mentally ill, as they pushed and were pushed through a variety of treatment systems.  Indeed, treatment systems were often cultural responses to “madness,” that uniquely revealed pathologies within a complex landscape of care and nation-building.  The talk hopes to showcase nuanced workings between medicine, religion, and spirituality in relation to the history of madness. 


Manuella Meyer, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor of History and Africana Studies at the University of Richmond. She is a historian of both the human sciences and modern Latin America. Meyer’s research focuses on the sociology of medicine, and in particular, psychiatry and public health. Her first book Reasoning Against Madness: Psychiatry and the State in Rio de Janeiro, 1830-1944 (Rochester Studies in Medical History, 2017) examines the emergence of Brazilian psychiatry, looking at how its practitioners fashioned themselves as the key architects in the project of national regeneration.  She has written articles and book chapters on public health psychiatric initiatives in early modern Brazil and in Latin America.   

Sponsor(s): Dr. Harold and Mrs. Laura Greer

Event contact: Andrea Wight,