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Healing the NationPrisoners of War, Medicine and Nationalism in Turkey, 1914-1939$
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Yucel Yanikdag

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780748665785

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2013

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748665785.001.0001

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Degenerationist Pathway to Eugenics:Neuropsychiatry, Social Pathology and Anxieties Over National Health

Degenerationist Pathway to Eugenics:Neuropsychiatry, Social Pathology and Anxieties Over National Health

Chapter:
(p.208) Chapter 6 Degenerationist Pathway to Eugenics:Neuropsychiatry, Social Pathology and Anxieties Over National Health
Source:
Healing the Nation
Author(s):

Yücel Yanikdağ

Publisher:
Edinburgh University Press
DOI:10.3366/edinburgh/9780748665785.003.0007

Chapter 6 argues that from the perspective of the neuro-psychiatrists, war neurosis, shell-shock, malingering, and breakdown of prisoners of war in captivity were all signs that psychopathy, degeneracy, and other hereditary weaknesses had advanced more than they had imagined during the war. They estimated that more than one-third of Turkish citizens were ‘low-value’ individuals. As in Europe, the war served as a defining moment in further development of eugenic thinking in post-war Turkey. They argued that the war had taken the brave and the fit and left behind the degenerate and the psychopath, who now put the future of the nation in danger because of their higher proclivity to procreate. As agents of the state, neuro-psychiatrists and other doctors began to portray the nation as a biological entity whose natality, longevity, morbidity, and morality needed to be managed actively. In this environment, they proposed plans for preventing those they identify as degenerate and psychopathic from re-populating the nation. Re-population of the nation could best be done through social engineering.

Keywords:   degeneracy, eugenics, social engineering, psychopathy, heredity, population, Ziya Gökalp, military selection, sterilisation, positive eugenics

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