Cite: Razi, Treating Children in the Psycho-Hygiene Clinic in Mandate Tel Aviv

Razi, Tammy. “Immigration and its Discontents: Treating Children in the Psycho-Hygiene Clinic in Mandate Tel Aviv.” Journal of Modern Jewish Studies 11.3 (2012): 339-356.





During the 1930s and 1940s hundreds of children were diagnosed in Tel Aviv’s Psycho-Hygiene Clinic for Children as suffering mainly from organic retardation or neurosis. Those diagnosed as retarded or “educationally impaired” were sent either to special education institutions or to vocational schools and, in severe cases, to closed institutions. The children diagnosed as neurotic were usually treated individually at the clinic or in private clinics by mental health specialists and remained with their families. In most cases those diagnosed as retarded were children of Mizrahi origin whilst the children diagnosed as suffering from neurosis were of Ashkenazi origin. This paper argues that the diagnosis of so many children as problematic, as well as the relationship between their diagnosis and their ethnic origin, embodies two basic trends in yishuv society, especially prominent during the British Mandate: the labelling of the Mizrahim in general, and Mizrahi children in particular, as culturally and mentally inferior; and a high degree of intervention on the part of mental health specialists. The involvement of psychiatrists, psychoanalysts and specialists in fields such as mental hygiene and Psycho-Hygiene created a pathologization of social and economic problems, and by doing so obscured the harsh realities of immigration.

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