Remembering the west end: social science, mental health and the American urban environment, 1939-1968

Matthew Smith, Edmund Ramsden

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

In 1958, the Boston Redevelopment Authority began its demolition of a 48-acre portion of Boston’s West End, displacing 2,700 lower-working class families. For Erich Lindemann, chief of psychiatry at the nearby Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), this urban renewal programme offered a unique opportunity. By studying the effect of acute stress and loss on the population, they could contribute to the emerging field of social psychiatry which sought to prevent mental illness through identifying and a meliorating the effects of destructive factors in the social and physical environment. The results of Lindemann’s project, ‘Relocation and Mental Health: Adaptation Under Stress’, would not only contribute to an emerging community mental health programme, but would also become critical to debates surrounding urban renewal and the relationship between the built environment and mental health more generally. Such was the case in Boston, where ‘Remember the West End!’ became a rallying call for those who lamented the destruction of a once vibrant neighbourhood, and throughout the US, where urban renewal was increasingly seen to inflict unreasonable upheaval upon socially and economically disadvantaged populations for questionable purposes.
LanguageEnglish
Number of pages22
JournalUrban History
Early online date10 Feb 2017
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 10 Feb 2017

Fingerprint

urban renewal
mental health
social science
community psychiatry
demolition
redevelopment
move
relocation
psychiatry
working class
mental illness
community
Remembering
West End
Social Sciences
Mental Health
Urban Environment
Urban Renewal
effect
programme

Keywords

  • Boston regeneration
  • urban renewal
  • mental health

Cite this

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Remembering the west end : social science, mental health and the American urban environment, 1939-1968. / Smith, Matthew; Ramsden, Edmund.

In: Urban History, 10.02.2017.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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