Crisis and Caring for Inner Selves: Psychiatric Crisis as a Social Classification in Sweden in the 1970s


  • Kristofer Hansson Department of Arts and Cultural Sciences, Lund University, Sweden



Psychiatric crisis, crisis psychotherapy, inner growth, self, self-care, social classification, classificatory looping


This article aims to contribute to the understanding concerning the introduction of crisis psychotherapy in the 1970s in psychiatric clinics in Sweden. The article discusses how this psychotherapy became central in the work of the clinics in supporting patients to well-being and inner growth. The ambition was that patients in an acute crisis-situation would be offered care immediately, aiming at a short and intensive contact with the professionals to avoid hospitalization and long-term sick leave. These ideas were by no means new; in the 1960s, a Western debate had emerged in which the hospitalization in psychiatric clinics had received criticism. In Sweden, the psychiatrist Johan Cullberg was a key actor during the 1970s in the introduction of the psychiatric crisis perspectives. Here, his publication ’The psychic trauma’ from 1971 is analysed. The publication inspired psychiatric clinics to introduce crisis psychotherapy in three different pilot projects. The projects were presented in articles in the Swedish Medical Journal. These articles have also been analysed here. Self-care is highlighted through this material as a concept to be analysed. The question is discussed as to how the concept of the psychiatric crisis initiated and institutionalized a new form of social classification in which the patients were to take more responsibility for their own inner growth.


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How to Cite

Hansson, K. (2012) “Crisis and Caring for Inner Selves: Psychiatric Crisis as a Social Classification in Sweden in the 1970s”, Culture Unbound, 4(3), pp. 499–512. doi: 10.3384/cu.2000.1525.124499.



Theme: Self-care Translated into Practice