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Lechebnaia pedagogika: The Concept and Practice of Therapy in Russian Defectology, c. 1880–1936

  • Andy Byford (a1)


Therapy is not simply a domain or form of medical practice, but also a metaphor for and a performance of medicine, of its functions and status, of its distinctive mode of action upon the world. This article examines medical treatment or therapy (in Russian lechenie), as concept and practice, in what came to be known in Russia as defectology (defektologiia) – the discipline and occupation concerned with the study and care of children with developmental pathologies, disabilities and special needs. Defectology formed an impure, occupationally ambiguous, therapeutic field, which emerged between different types of expertise in the niche populated by children considered ‘difficult to cure’, ‘difficult to teach’, and ‘difficult to discipline’. The article follows the multiple genealogy of defectological therapeutics in the medical, pedagogical and juridical domains, across the late tsarist and early Soviet eras. It argues that the distinctiveness of defectological therapeutics emerged from the tensions between its biomedical, sociopedagogical and moral-juridical framings, resulting in ambiguous hybrid forms, in which medical treatment strategically interlaced with education or upbringing, on the one hand, and moral correction, on the other.

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This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (, which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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The article is based on a paper presented at the symposium ‘Lechenie: Thinking about Therapy in Russian/Soviet Medicine’, held at St Antony’s College, University of Oxford, on 5–6 June 2014. I am grateful to the organisers, Dan Healey, Fran Bernstein and Chris Burton, without whose invitation, feedback and encouragement this article would not have been written. I would also like to thank the two anonymous readers for their valuable feedback and suggestions for improvement. Research that went into this article was funded by the British Academy (SG101445; MD140022) and the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council (AH/J00362X/1).



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1. Charles E. Rosenberg, ‘The Therapeutic Revolution: Medicine, Meaning and Social Change in Nineteenth-Century America’, Perspectives in Biology and Medicine, 20, 4 (1977), 485–504; Guenter B. Riesse, ‘History of Therapeutics’, Clio Medica, 22 (1991), 3–11; John Harley Warner, The Therapeutic Perspective: Medical Practice, Knowledge, and Identity in America, 1820–85 (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1997).

2. On the history of defectology, especially the treatment of cognitive developmental pathologies, see Khananii S. Zamskii, Istoriia oligofrenopedagogiki (Moscow: Prosveshchenie, 1980) and Kh.S. Zamskii, Umstvenno otstalye deti: Istoriia ikh izucheniia, vospitaniia i obucheniia s drevnikh vremen do serediny XX veka (Moscow: NPO Obrazovanie, 1995). On the treatment of the deaf in Russia and the USSR, see A.G. Basova and S.F. Egorov, Istoriia surdopedagogiki (Moscow: Prosveshchenie, 1984) and Claire Shaw, Deaf in the USSR: Marginality, Community, and Soviet Identity, 1917–91 (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2017). For a more recent textbook on the history of special education in Russia, see Nikolai N. Malofeev, Spetsial’noe obrazovanie v meniaiushchemsia mire: Rossiia, 2 vols. (Moscow: Prosveshchenie, 2010; 2013). For an English-language overview of the emergence and rise of Russo-Soviet defectology, see William O. McCagg, ‘The origins of defectology’, in William O. McCagg and Lewis Siegelbaum (eds), The Disabled in the Soviet Union: Past and Present, Theory and Practice (Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1989), 39–62. See also Maria Cristina Galmarini-Kabala, The Right to be Helped: Deviance, Entitlement, and the Soviet Moral Order (DeKalb, IL: Northern Illinois University Press, 2016), 79–93, 117–33.

3. See also Andy Byford, ‘Professional Cross-Dressing: Doctors in Education in Late Imperial Russia (1881–1917)’, The Russian Review, 65, 4 (2006), 586–616.

4. Evgenii M. Balashov, Pedologiia v Rossii v pervoi tret’i XX veka (St Petersburg: Nestor-Istoriia, 2012).

5. E. Thomas Ewing, ‘Restoring Teachers to Their Rights: Soviet Education and the 1936 Denunciation of Pedology’, History of Education Quarterly, 41, 4 (2001), 471–93; Nikolai S. Kurek, Istoriia likvidatsii pedologii i psikhotekhniki (St Petersburg: Aleteia, 2004); Andy Byford, ‘Zagrobnaia zhizn’ “nauki” pedologii: K voprosu o znachenii “nauchnykh dvizhenii” (i ikh istorii) dlia sovremennoi pedagogiki’, Prepodavatel’ XXI vek, 1 (2013), 43–54; Andy Byford, ‘The Mental Test as a Boundary Object in Early-20th-Century Russian Child Science’, History of the Human Sciences, 27, 4 (2014), 22–58.

6. Andy Byford, ‘The Imperfect Child in Early Twentieth-Century Russia’, History of Education, 46, 5 (2017), 595–617.

7. A.I. D’iachkov, Osnovy obucheniia i vospitaniia anomal’nykh detei (Moscow: Prosveshchenie, 1965); Maria K. Gal’marini [Maria Galmarini], ‘Moral’no defektivnyi, prestupnik ili psikhicheski bol’noi? Detskie povedencheskie deviatsii i sovetskie discipliniruiushchie praktiki: 1935–57’, in I. Kikulin, M. Maiofis and P. Safronov (eds), Ostrova utopii: Pedagogicheskoe i sotsial’noe proektirovanie poslevoennoi shkoly (1940–80e): Kollektivnaia monografiia (Moscow: Novoe literaturnoe obozrenie, 2015), 107–51; E.L. Goncharova and O.I. Kukushkina, ‘Defektologiia’, Al’manakh instituta korrektsionnoi pedagogiki RAO, 5 (2002), While the old-fashioned and potentially politically incorrect nature of some of defectology’s language, including its very name, is acknowledged today, much of its terminology remains in use and is far from discredited, even while new terms, imported and adapted from current Western discourse, are gaining ground. See Malofeev, op. cit. (note 2).

8. This phrase is closest to the German term Heilpädagogik, meaning therapeutic or curative pedagogy. McCagg, op. cit. (note 2), identifies the German nineteenth-century Heilpädagogik tradition of special education as lying at the roots of Russian defectology, given the influence of German doctors and educators on their Russian counterparts in the pre-revolutionary era.

9. I have dealt with the role of diagnostics in the history of defectology elsewhere. See Andy Byford, ‘Poniatiia subnormy i patologii v istorii rossiiskoi nauki o rebenke pervoi treti XX veka’, Voprosy psikhologii, 1 (2015), 111–22, and Byford, op. cit. (note 6).

10. On the notion of ‘professionalism’, see Terence J. Johnson, Professions and Power (London and Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1972), 51–60 (the significance of the ‘diagnostic relationship’ is elaborated on pp. 57–58). On the critical importance of the relationship between doctor and patient for understanding therapeutics, see Rosenberg, op. cit. (note 1).

11. Archival sources used in this article come principally from the Scientific Archive of the Russian Academy of Education in Moscow (Nauchnyi Arkhiv Rossiiskoi Akademii Obrazovaniia; hereafter NA RAO), especially the collections of V.P. Kashchenko (f. 139) and Kh.S. Zamskii (f. 113), as well as those of the Rukavishnikov juvenile correctional facility (f. 115).

12. Georges Canguilhem, The Normal and the Pathological (New York: Zone Books, 1991).

13. On the mélange of mutually competing normative regimes and modes of diagnostics that were harnessed in the identification of ‘imperfection’ among Russia’s children during the first three decades of the twentieth century, resulting in the plurality, indeterminacy and vagueness of determining what constituted infringements of the norm, see Byford, op. cit. (note 6).

14. For a comparative discussion of the treatment of the most important categories of ‘imperfection’ in the child population in Russia and the USSR, see D. Karoli [Dorena Caroli], ‘Deti invalidy v dorevoliutsionnoi i sovetskoi Rossii’, in Vitalii G. Bezrogov, Ol’ga E. Kosheleva and Mariia V. Tendriakova (eds), Maloletnie poddannye bol’shoi imperii (Moscow: RGGU, 2012), 138–96.

15. McCagg, op. cit. (note 2), 47–9, presents this as typical of the ‘holism’ of German Heilpädagogik.

16. On the concept of ‘tension’ that lies at the heart of the rhetorical functions of metaphor, see Paul Ricœur, The Rule of Metaphor: The Creation of Meaning in Language (London and New York: Routledge, 2003), 291–3. On the role of rhetoric in medicine more generally see, for example, Judy Z. Segal, Health and the Rhetoric of Medicine (Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois University Press, 2008). On the deployment of medical metaphors in the development of psychology as a discipline, see JoAnne Brown, The Definition of a Profession: The Authority of Metaphor in the History of Intelligence Testing, 1890–1930 (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1992), 76–95. For an anthropological take on ‘performance’ in medicine and healing, see, for example, Effie Gemie-Iordanou et al. (eds), Medicine, Healing and Performance (Oxford and Philadelphia: Oxbow Books, 2014).

17. This was, of course, a worldwide phenomenon. See, for example, Daniel Pick, Faces of Degeneration: A European Disorder, c.1848–1919 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989); Nikolas Rose, The Psychological Complex: Psychology, Politics and Society in England, 1869–1939 (New York: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1985); Mathew Thomson, The Problem of Mental Deficiency: Eugenics, Democracy, and Social Policy in Britain c.1870–1959 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1998); Sol Cohen, ‘The Mental Hygiene Movement, the Development of Personality, and the School: The Medicalization of American Education’, History of Education Quarterly, 23, 2 (1983), 123–49; Julia Rodriguez, Civilizing Argentina: Science, Medicine and the Modern State (Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 2006); Christian Promitzer, Sevasti Trubeta and Marius Turda (eds), Health, Hygiene and Eugenics in Southeastern Europe to 1945 (Budapest and New York: Central European University Press, 2011). For examples concerning Russia, see John F. Hutchinson, Politics and Public Health in Revolutionary Russia, 1890–1918 (Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1990); Daniel Beer, Renovating Russia: The Human Sciences and the Fate of Liberal Modernity, 1880–1930 (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2008); Laura Engelstein, The Keys to Happiness: Sex and the Search for Modernity in Fin-de-Siècle Russia (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1992); Irina Sirotkina, Diagnosing Literary Genius: A Cultural History of Psychiatry in Russia, 1880–1930 (Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2002); Alexander Etkind, Eros of the Impossible: The History of Psychoanalysis in Russia (Boulder, CO: Westview, 1997).

18. On the role of medicine in establishing norms of childhood development, see André Turmel, A Historical Sociology of Childhood: Developmental Thinking, Categorization and Graphic Visualization (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008), 217–35.

19. Byford, op. cit. (note 3).

20. A classic example of this discourse would be Petr F. Lesgaft, Semeinoe vospitanie rebenka i ego znachenie (St Petersburg: Benke, 1910–12). For other examples, see Andy Byford, ‘Roditel’, uchitel’ i vrach: K istorii ikh vzaimootnoshenii v dele vospitaniia i obrazovaniia v dorevoliutsionnoi Rossii, Novye rossiiskie gumanitarnye issledovaniia, 8 (2013),

21. E.L., ‘Pedagogicheskaia diagnostika’, Vestnik obrazovaniia, 12 (1909), 369–80.

22. See Elizaveta S. Drentel’n, ‘Lechit’ ili vospityvat’?’, Vestnik vospitaniia, 3 (1900), 161–89 (187). This is a speech by Drentel’n, a female psychiatrist, in which she sought to persuade an audience of mothers that one could treat a ‘nervous child’ by pedagogical means.

23. Byford, op. cit. (note 3), 597–607. At the root of the noun vospitanie is the verb pitat’ (to feed or nourish). The term therefore implies ‘nurture’ in a broad sense that includes socialisation, moral instruction, and the inculcation of ‘culture’.

24. School doctors did, however, play a more important role in extreme cases of ‘pathological’ behaviour, such as suicides of schoolchildren. These were considered to have reached ‘epidemic’ proportions in the wake of the 1905 Revolution. See Aleksandr B. Liarskii, Samoubiistva uchashchikhsia kak fenomen sotsializatsii v Rossii na rubezhe XIX–XX vekov (St Petersburg: MIEP, 2010); Susan K. Morrissey, Suicide and the Body Politic in Imperial Russia (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006), 312–45; Andy Byford, ‘Trauma and Pathology: Normative Crises and the Child Population in Late Tsarist Russia and the Early Soviet Union, 1904–24’, Journal of the History of Childhood and Youth, 9, 3 (2016), 450–69 (451–4).

25. Byford, op. cit. (note 3), 607–14.

26. Byford, ‘Poniatiia subnormy i patologii’, op. cit. (note 9), 120.

27. For more detail, see Zamskii, Istoriia oligofrenopedagogiki, op. cit. (note 2).

28. Another example would be the Medico-Pedagogical Institute for Underdeveloped, Retarded and Nervous Children, set up in 1904 in Kiev by Olga and Elena Sikorskie, the daughters of Ivan A. Sikorskii, a well-known psychiatrist, who had a strong interest in child development and was one of the pioneers of child study in Russia. Ibid., 285–6.

29. Zamskii, Istoriia oligofrenopedagogiki, op. cit. (note 2), 274–85.

30. Adrian S. Griboedov, Nenormal’nye deti v sem’e i shkole: Ocherki po detskoi psikhopatologii i patologicheskoi pedagogike (Moscow, 1914). Pavel I. Kovalevskii, Otstalye deti (idioty, otstalye i prestupnye detei), ikh lechenie i vospitanie (St Petersburg: Vestnik dushevnykh boleznei, 1906).

31. ‘Po voprosu ob organizatsii shkoly dlia umstvenno otstalykh detei’, Pedagogicheskii listok, 2 (1907), 93–8.

32. 2-i s”ezd russkikh deiatelei po tekhnicheskomu i professional’nomu obrazovaniiu. 1896–99: Sektsiia XII, otdel IV (Moscow, 1898), 33 (quoted in Zamskii, Istoriia oligofrenopedagogiki, op. cit. (note 2), 259).

33. For more detail, see Byford, op. cit. (note 3), 611–3.

34. This is not to say, however, that some of the other institutions, especially Gracheva’s shelters, did not contribute to pioneering new forms of special education, most notably the education of those who were both deaf and blind. See T.A. Basilova, ‘Kak nachinalos’ obuchenie slepoglukhikh detei v Rossii’, Defektologiia, 2 (1999), 61–3.

35. Andy Byford, ‘Turning Pedagogy into a Science: Teachers and Psychologists in Late Imperial Russia (1897–1917)’, Osiris, 23 (2008), 50–81.

36. Ludwig Strümpel, Die pädagogische Pathologie oder die Lehre von den Fehlern der Kinder (Leipzig: Boehmes Nachfolger, 1890). See E. Lozinskii, ‘Pedagogicheskaia patologiia’, Vestnik vospitaniia, 8 (1910), 106–33, and Adrian V. Vladimirskii, L. Orshanskii and G. Fal’bork (eds), Voprosy pedagogicheskoi patologii v sem’e i shkole, 2 vols. (St Petersburg: Shkola i zhizn’, 1912). See also Gracheva’s diary in Zamskii, Umstvenno otstalye deti, op. cit. (note 2), 355–86.

37. A.S. Griboedov and N.P. Kazachenko-Trirodov (eds), Zapiski kratkosrochnykh pedagogicheskikh kursov po podgotovke personala v uchrezhdeniiakh dlia defektivnykh detei (Petrograd: Kommissariat Sotsial’nogo Obespecheniia, 1918). See also NA RAO f. 139 op. 1 d. 126 ll. 1–2, which describes V.P. Kashchenko’s course in lechebnaia pedagogika from 1921.

38. At the St Petersburg Pedagogical Academy the subject was taught by A.S. Griboedov, at V.M. Bekheterev’s Psycho-Neurological Institute by A.V. Vladimirskii, and at the Moscow Pedagogical Courses by G.I. Rossolimo. See V.P. Kashchenko (ed.), Defektivnye deti i shkola (Moscow: Tikhomirov, 1912), 262–3. Major influences in the practice of running specialist facilities for the mentally defective in late tsarist Russia were the Francophone pioneers of this field, namely the Frenchman, Édouard Séguin and the Belgian, Jean Demoor. These authorities were translated in the early 1900s. See Edvar Segen, Vospitanie, gigiena i nravstvenoe lechenie umstvenno-nenormal’nykh detei, trans. M.P. Lebedeva, ed. V.A. En’ko (St Petersburg: Likhtenshtadt, 1903) and Zhan Demor, Nenormal’nye deti i ikh vospitanie doma i v shkole, trans. Raisa B. Pevzner, ed. Grigorii I. Rossolimo (Moscow: Sytin, 1909).

39. Catriona Kelly, Children’s World: Growing up in Russia, 1890–1991 (New Haven, CT, and London: Yale University Press, 2007), 180–92. L.I. Beliaeva, Stanovlenie i razvitie ispravitel’nykh zavedenii dlia nesovershennoletnikh pravonarushitelei v Rossii (seredina XIX–nachalo XX vv.) (Moscow: Akademiia MVD Rossii, 1995).

40. Dmitrii A. Dril’, Maloletnie prestupniki, 2 vols. (Moscow: Mamontov, 1884; 1888). D.A. Dril’, ‘Nashi ispravitel’no-vospitatel’nye zavedeniia i voprosy ispravitel’nogo vospitaniia’, Zhurnal ministerstva iustitsii, 8 (1898), 173–93; 9 (1898), 88–120; 10 (1898), 101–49; D.A. Dril’, ‘Voprosy ispravitel’nogo vospitaniia’, Tiuremnyi vestnik, 3 (1903), 244–59; 4 (1903), 346–57; D.A. Dril’, O merakh bor’by s prestupnost’iu nesovershennoletnikh (St Petersburg: Senatskaia tipografiia, 1908). For the broader context, see Pavel I. Bel’skii, ‘Prestupnost’ i deti’, Psikhologiia i deti, 1 (1917), 41–51; 2 (1917), 48–56; D.A. Dril’, Prestupnost’ i prestupniki: Uchenie o prestupnosti i merakh bor’by s neiu (Moscow: INFRA-M, 2006). S.S. Ostroumov, Prestupnost’ i ee prichiny v dorevoliutsionnoi Rossii (Moscow: Izd. MU (Moscow University Press), 1960).

41. The best example is the Rukavishnikov correctional facility in Moscow. See especially NA RAO f. 115 op. 1 d. 5 ll. 18-21ob. This is a booklet titled Instruktsii Rukavishnikovskogo priiuta (1888–89), which includes a brief section on the role of the resident doctor as the one responsible for the facility’s health and hygiene procedures (sanitarno-gigienicheskaia chast’). For more on this institution, see M.M. Khin, ‘Moskovskii gorodskoi Rukavishnikovskii ispravitel’nyi priiut dlia maloletnikh prestupnikov (1864–86 gg.)’, Iuridicheskii vestnik, 8 (1886), 581–605.

42. I. Tarasov, ‘K voprosu ob ispravitel’nykh zavedeniiakh dlia maloletnikh prestupnikov’, Iuridicheskii vestnik, 12 (1881), 567–76.

43. On this, see D.T., ‘Ispravlenie maloletnikh prestupnikov v Rossii’, Iuridicheskii vestnik, 2 (1885), 325–62, 331–2.

44. See Zamskii, Istoriia oligofrenopedagogiki, op. cit. (note 2), 249–52; See also Valentin V. Gorinevskii, ‘Vrachebno-vospitatel’noe zavedenie Dr-a I. V. Maliarevskogo (Iz ekskursii po Pervoi Vserossiiskoi gigienicheskoi vystavke)’, Vestnik obrazovaniia, 10 (1893), 328–36.

45. Ibid.

46. For the late tsarist period, apart from the already quoted works by Dmitrii Dril’, see especially the contributions of Pavel I. Kovalevskii, op. cit. (note 30), and Vyrozhdenie i vozrozhdenie: Prestupniki i bor’ba s prestupnost’iu (sotsialno-psikhologicheskie eskizy) (St Petersburg: Akinfiev & Lopatov, 1903). For the early Soviet period, see Deti besprizornye – psikhopaty (Moscow: Zhizn’ i znanie, 1924); A.S. Griboedov, Mediko-pedagogicheskaia ekspertiza i komissii po delam o nesovershennoletnikh (Moscow and Petrograd: Gos. izd., 1924); T.E. Segalov, Psikhopatologiia imushchestvennykh prestuplenii, sovershaemykh nesovershennoletnimi, issue 1 (Moscow: Pravo i zhizn’, 1924).

47. M.N. Gernet, Sotsial’nye faktory prestupnosti (Moscow: Un. tip. (Moscow University Press), 1905). M.N. Gernet, Deti-prestupniki (Moscow: Znamenskii, 1912). M.N. Gernet, Moral’naia statistika (Moscow: Izd. Tsentral’nogo statisticheskogo upravleniia, 1922). M.N. Gernet, Izbrannye proizvedeniia (Moscow: Iuridicheskaia literatura, 1974).

48. Galmarini-Kabala, op.cit. (note 2), 82–93; Byford, op. cit. (note 24), 456–60.

49. See Alan M. Ball, And Now my Soul is Hardened: Abandoned Children in Soviet Russia, 1918–30 (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1994) and Dorena Caroli, L’Enfance abandonné et délinquante dans la Russie soviétique, 1917–37 (Paris: L’Harmattan, 2004).

50. Cited in Iurii Iu. Bekhterev, ‘Samoupravlenie kak odna iz form ispravitel’no-trudovogo vozdeistviia na nesovershennoletnikh pravonarushitelei, lishennykh svobody’, Sovetskoe pravo, 2 (1926), 121–6 (121–2); translation mine.

51. Zamskii, Umstvenno otstalye deti, op. cit. (note 2), 283–301.

52. See Bekhterev, op. cit. (note 50). See also Marina Goloviznina, ‘Politika sotsial’nogo kontrolia prestupnosti nesovershennoletnikh v SSSR (1917-konets 1980-kh gg.)’, Zhurnal issledovanii sotsial’noi politiki, 3, 2 (2005), 223–40.

53. Dorena Caroli, ‘Socialisme et protection sociale: Une tautologie? L’enfance abandonnée en URSS (1917–31)’, Annales. Histoire, Sciences Sociales, 54, 6 (1999), 1291–1316: 1296–8.

54. See especially A.S. Griboedov and S.M. Birger (eds), Spravochnik po voprosam sotsial’no-pravovoi okhrany nesovershenoletnikh i detskoi defektivnosti (Moscow and Petrograd: Gos. izd., 1924) and V.P. Kashchenko (ed.), Problemy izucheniia i vospitaniia rebenka (Moscow: Moskovskoe aktsionerskoe izdatel’skoe obshchestvo, 1926). See also NA RAO, f. 139, op. 1, d. 238, ll. 1–6, which contains minutes from the founding meeting of the Society for the Study and Struggle against Child Defectiveness and Bezprizornost’ (Obshchestvo izucheniia i bor’by s detskoi defektivnost’iu i besprizornost’iu) of 29 August 1923, chaired by Kashchenko.

55. Zamskii, Umstvenno otstalye deti, op. cit. (note 2), 295.

56. Inter-professional and interdisciplinary interactions were highly relevant in other arenas of occupational work and social action as well. For some examples of areas in which medicine closely interacted with other professional domains in the late tsarist and early Soviet eras, see Frances Bernstein, The Dictatorship of Sex: Gender, Health, and Enlightenment in Revolutionary Russia, 1918–31 (DeKalb, IL: Northern Illinois University Press, 2007); Sharon A. Kowalsky, Deviant Women: Female Crime and Criminology in Revolutionary Russia, 1880–1930 (DeKalb, IL: Northern Illinois University Press, 2009); Dan Healey, Bolshevik Sexual Forensics: Diagnosing Disorder in the Clinic and the Courtroom, 1917–39 (DeKalb, IL: Northern Illinois University Press, 2009); Kenneth Pinnow, Lost to the Collective: Suicide and the Promise of Soviet Socialism, 1921–29 (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2010); Elisa M. Becker, Medicine, Law and the State in Imperial Russia (Budapest: Central European University Press, 2011). For a more general sociological account of what is at stake in inter-professional and interdisciplinary collaborations, see Andrew Abbott, The System of Professions: An Essay on the Division of Expert Labor (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1988), and Michael E. Gorman (ed.), Trading Zones and Interactional Expertise: Creating New Kinds of Collaboration (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2010).

57. The underlying tension here is between the ‘sameness’ and ‘difference’ of lechenie, vospitanieand ispravlenie respectively – a tension which is the property of metaphor itself. See Ricœur, The Rule of Metaphor, 232.

58. The term ozdorovleniewas typical of the rhetoric of medicalisation that targeted society in the broadest of ways. Daniel Beer has highlighted its use in criminological and psychiatric discourse on degeneration. See Beer, op. cit. (note 17). The same word was used in certain eugenically-minded proposals for school reforms, which called for ‘making the school healthy’ (ozdorovlenie shkoly). See V.I., ‘Gimnasticheskie zaly, kak laboratorii legochnykh boleznei’, Vestnik vospitaniia, 1 (1894), 247–50. Another way it could be used, was, for example, to argue that a ‘healthy environment’ (zdorovaia sreda) could in and of itself re-educate a child. This was made synonymous with the statement that pleasant surroundings and the education of the spirit (vospitanie dukha) acted therapeutically on the soul of a ‘defective’ child. See V.P. Kashchenko and S.N. Kriukov, Vospitanie i obuchenie trudnykh detei: Iz opyta sanatoria-shkoly doktora V.P. Kashchenko (Moscow: Drukar’, 1913).

59. V.P. Kashchenko, Defektivnye deti shkol’nogo vozrasta i vseobshchee obuchenie (Moscow, 1910). V.P. Kashchenko (ed.), Defektivnye deti i shkola (Moscow: Tikhomirov, 1912). I.I. Voskoboinkov, ‘Iz zhizni sanatoria shkoly’, Vestnik vospitaniia, 3 (1914), 98–121; V.P. Kashchenko, Nervnost’ i defektivnost’ v doshkol’nom i shkol’nom vozrastakh: Okhrana dushevnogo zdorov’ia detei (Moscow: Tseput’kul’t, 1919). Kashchenko, Problemy izucheniia, op. cit. (note 54). NA RAO f. 113 op. 1 d. 152 ll. 1–35ob.

60. Kashchenko and Kriukov, op. cit. (note 58).

61. NA RAO f. 139 op. 1 d. 20, ll. 1–7. NA RAO f. 139 op. 1 d. 6, ll. 23–6.

62. Kollektsii spetsial’nykh posobii dlia formal’nogo razvtiia i issledovaniia umstvenno-defektivnykh shkol’nikov i dlia zaniatii v detskikh sadakh (Moscow, 1912).

63. Kashchenko and Kriukov, op. cit. (note 58).

64. Zamskii, Istoriia oligofrenopedagogiki, op. cit. (note 2), 293.

65. Ibid., 291–2; See also Galmarini-Kabala, op. cit. (note 2), 124–9.

66. Many of them emerged in Petrograd/Leningrad under the auspices of V.M. Bekhterev’s Psycho-Neurological Academy. See A.S. Griboedov (ed.), Novoe v defektologii (Moscow: Gos. Psikho-Nevrologicheskaia Akademiia, 1928), and V.M. Bekhterev, ‘Otchet o deiatel’nosti Vospitatel’no-Klinicheskogo Instituta dlia nervnykh detei imeni Akademika V.M. Bekhtereva Psikho-Nevrologicheskoi Akademii’, Voprosy izucheniia i vospitaniia lichnosti, 2–3 (1926), 231–4.

67. E.P. Punina-Griboedova, ‘Desiat’ let defektologicheskoi i pedologicheskoi raboty’, in Griboedov, ibid., 1–17.

68. On the training of defectologists in the early Soviet era, see A.I. Zhivina, ‘Osnovnye etapy razvitiia sistemy podgotovki uchitelei defektologov v SSSR’, Defektologiia, 2 (1974), 68–74, and V. Lapshin and A. Zhivina, ‘60 let vysshego defektologicheskogo obrazovaniia v SSSR i rol’ defektologicheskogo fakul’teta MGPI im. V. I. Lenina v podgotovke defektologov s vysshim obrazovaniem’, Defektologiia, 6 (1981), 78–81. On the continuity between pre-revolutionary and Soviet approaches to training in this area, see Griboedov and Kazachenko-Trirodov, op. cit. (note 37).

69. For a heuristic overview of the division of responsibilities between the different Commissariats, see Galmarini-Kabala, op. cit. (note 2), 84–7.

70. On early divisions of labour between doctor and educator in the context of defectology, see Kashchenko, Nervnost’ i defektivnost’, op. cit. (note 59), 6–15. Kashchenko expressed these two roles more ambiguously as vrach-pedagog vs. pedagog-vrach.

71. A.S. Griboedov, A.K. Borsuk and V.V. Belousov (eds), Voprosy vospitaniia normal’nogo i defektivnogo rebenka (Moscow and Petrograd: Gos. izd., 1924).

72. Johnson, op. cit. (note 10), 57–8.

73. V.P. Kashchenko and G.V. Murashev, Pedologiia v pedagogicheskoi praktike: Pedagogicheskaia klinika (Moscow: Mediko-Pedagogicheskaia stantsiia, 1926).

74. Ibid., 14.

75. The role, personality and conduct of the teacher was also viewed as a vital component of the pedagogical model fostered in Anton Makarenko’s influential method for re-educating juvenile delinquents, exemplified in Nikolai Ekk’s 1931 film Road to Life (Putevka v zhizn’). See A.S. Makarenko, Pedagogicheskaia poema (Moscow: Molodaia gvardiia, 1985). See also: Vospitanie grazhdanina v pedagogike A.S. Makarenko (Moscow: Akademicheskii Proekt Al’ma Mater, 2006); E.N. Medynskii, A.S. Makarenko: Zizn’, deiatel’nost’, pedagogicheskaia sistema (Moscow: Molodaia Gvardiia, 1944); A.V. Zhilina, N.D. Skvortsova and L.Iu. Gordin (eds), A.S. Makarenko: K 100-letiiu so dnia rozhdeniia: Ukazatel’ trudov i literatury o zhizni i deiatel’nosti (Moscow: Pedagogika, 1988).

76. Kashchenko, Nervnost’ i defektivnost’, op. cit. (note 59), 9.

77. Needless to say, this was an ideal rather than a reality, as testified by many poorly trained vospitateliin the various children’s homes that had to be established at breakneck speed across a vast territory over the course of the 1920s. See Ball, op. cit. (note 49).

78. On the relationship between paedology and defectology in this era, see Kashchenko, Problemy izucheniia, op. cit. (note 54). See also Byford, ‘Poniatiia subnormy i patologii’, op. cit. (note 9), 120.

79. Kashchenko, Problemy izucheniia, op. cit. (note 54),153, 162, 172.

80. Ibid., 168; See also NA RAO f. 113 op. 1 d. 141 l. 11. On the broader context of educational reforms of this era, see E.Iu. Bykova, ‘Reformirovanie sistemy shkol’nogo obrazovaniia v SSSR v 1917–30 gg.: Organizatsionye i ideologicheskie aspekty’, Vestnik Tomskogo gosudarstvennogo universiteta, 1 (2011), 179–89.

81. Konstantin N. Venttsel’, Novye puti vospitaniia i obrazovaniia detei (Moscow: Zemlia i fabrika, 1923). See also, Stanislav T. Shatskii, Izbrannye pedagogicheskie sochineniia (Moscow: Gos. uch.-ped. izd. Min. Pros. RSFSR, 1958); A.A. Romanov, Opytno-eksperimental’naia pedagogika pervoi treti XX veka (Moscow: Shkola, 1997), 139-261; William Partlett, ‘Bourgeois Ideas in Communist Construction: The Development of Stanislav Shatskii’s Teacher Training Methods’, History of Education, 2006, 35 (4–5), 453–74.

82. Kashchenko, Problemy izucheniia, op. cit. (note 54), 165.

83. ‘Curative pedagogy’ (Heilpädagogik) or ‘curative education’ was also the term that Rudolf Steiner, an influence on Venttsel’, used in his anthroposophical framing of special education. See Rudolf Steiner, Curative Education: Twelve Lectures for Doctors and Curative Teachers in Donarch from 25th June to 7th July 1924 (London: Steiner, 1972).

84. Needless to say, early Soviet educational reforms and pedagogical ideas cannot be reduced to these strands. For more detail on this period of educational reformism in the USSR, in terms of policy, practice and pedagogical ideas, see Larry E. Holmes, The Kremlin and the School House: Reforming Education in Soviet Russia, 1917–31 (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1991).

85. These values are, of course, closely tied to the rise of professions more generally, for which the growth of the middle class, as clients, was crucial. See Johnson, op. cit. (note 10).

86. Larry E. Holmes, Stalin’s School: Moscow’s Model School No. 25, 1931–37 (Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1999). Gail Warshovsky Lapidus, ‘Educational strategies and cultural revolution: the politics of Soviet development’, in Sheila Fitzpatrick (ed.), Cultural Revolution in Russia, 1928–31 (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1978), 78–104.

87. Byford, ‘Poniatiia subnormy i patologii’, op. cit. (note 9), 115–8. Byford, op. cit. (note 6), 615–7; Zamskii, Umstvenno otstalye deti, op. cit. (note 2), 332–5.

88. Kashchenko, Nervnost’ i defektivnost’, op. cit. (note 59), 4. For broader context, see Beer, op. cit. (note 17).

89. For broader context, see, for example, Tricia Starks, The Body Soviet: Propaganda, Hygiene, and the Revolutionary State (Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press, 2008); David L. Hoffmann, Cultivating the Masses: Modern State Practices and Soviet Socialism, 1914–39 (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2011); Raymond A. Bauer, The New Man in Soviet Psychology (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1952).

90. Zamskii, Umstvenno otstalye deti, op. cit. (note 2), 301.

91. Kashchenko used the variant korrektivnaia, rather than korrektsionnaia, pedagogika. He also saw this term as effectively synonymous with lechebnaia pedagogika (NA RAO f. 139 op. 1 d. 234 ll. 4–5). For an example of a contemporary textbook in ‘corrective pedagogy’, see N.V. Mal’tseva, Korrektsionnaia pedagogika s osnovami spetsial’noi psikhologii: Uchebno-metodicheskoe posobie (Omsk: OOIPKRO, 2009).

92. NA RAO f. 139 op. 1 d. 20 l. 7. See also V.P. Kashchenko, Pedagogicheskaia korrektsiia: Ispravlenie nedostatkov kharaktera u detei i podrostkov (Moscow: Academia, 1999).

93. NA RAO f. 113 op. 1 d. 141 l. 9.

94. Kashchenko and Murashev, op. cit. (note 73), 15–6.

95. Kashchenko, op. cit. (note 54), 165. NA RAO f. 113 op. 1 d. 152 ll. 7–9.

96. Zamskii, Umstvenno otstalye deti, op. cit. (note 2), 299–300. Graborov trained at V.M. Bekhterev’s Psycho-Neurological Institute before the revolution and from the early 1920s headed the Petrograd Pedagogical Institute for the Social Education of the Normal and Defective Child – one of a number of defectological units within the Psycho-Neurological Academy network. He was a major promoter and defender of special schools for the defective. See N.P. Dolgoborodova, ‘Aleksei Nikolaevich Graborov – sovetskii uchenyi-oligofreno-pedagog’, Defektologiia, 5 (1972), 82–5.

97. On the therapeutic metaphor in Binet, see Brown, The Definition of a Profession, 82. Binet’s ‘mental orthopaedics’ closely matched his psychometrics. The exercises he recommended were expected to develop (therapeutically) the same functions that the tests measured (diagnostically). ‘Mental orthopaedics’ was vital to Binet’s insistence that the level of mental functioning that his tests measured was not fixed but could be improved by such ‘orthopaedics’. See Stephen J. Gould, The Mismeasure of Man (New York and London: Norton, 1996), 176–88.

98. Zamskii, Umstvenno otstalye deti, op. cit. (note 2), 298.

99. Kashchenko and Murashev, op. cit. (note 73), 11–23.

100. Punina-Griboedova, op. cit (note 67), 7. See also A.S. Griboedov, ‘Trudnovospituemye deti i piskhoanaliz’, Voprosy izucheniia i vospitaniia lichnosti, 1926, no. 1, 57–68.

101. Kashchenko and Murashev, op. cit. (note 73), 20–21.

102. NA RAO f. 113 op. 1 d. 152 l. 8. NA RAO f. 113 op. 1 d. 141 ll. 9–10. See also V.P. Kashchenko (ed.), Putem tvorchestva: Stranichka zhizni i opyta odnoi eksperimental’noi shkoly (Moscow: TsUSTRAN, 1922).

103. Kashchenko and Murashev, op. cit. (note 73), 16–20. NA RAO f. 113 op. 1 d. 141 l. 11. ‘Social correction’ is here contrasted with the ‘natural correction’ (estestvennaia korrektsiia) of sensory analysers and motor reactions.

104. Punina-Griboedova, op. cit (note 67), 6.

105. NA RAO f. 113 op. 1 d. 152 l. 7.

106. Zamskii, Umstvenno otstalye deti, op. cit. (note 2), 295. See esp. A.N. Graborov, Vspomogatel’naia shkola: Shkola dlia umstvenno-otstalykh detei (Moscow and Petrograd: Gos. izd. tip. im. N. Bukharina, 1923).

107. Griboedov, op. cit. (note 66), v.

108. Contrast with Michel Foucault’s ‘the incorrigibles’ as a ‘support’ of modern practices of correction, described in his essay ‘The abnormals’, in Michel Foucault, Ethics: Subjectivity and Truth (London: Penguin, 2000), 51–57 (52–53).

109. See Lev S. Vygotskii, Sobranie sochinenii, Vol. 5 (Moscow: Pedagogika, 1983), which is devoted in its entirety to Vygotsky’s contributions to defectology. For background on Vygotsky and defectology, see René van der Veer and Jaan Valsiner, Understanding Vygotsky: A Quest for Synthesis (Oxford and Cambridge, MA: Blackwell, 1991), 60–77, and Peter Smagorinsky, ‘Vygotsky, “Defectology”, and the Inclusion of People of Difference in the Broader Cultural Stream’, Journal of Language & Literacy Education, 8, 1 (2012), 1–25.

110. Zamskii, Umstvenno otstalye deti, op. cit. (note 2), 304–7, 311–14.

111. Ibid., 305, 315. See especially L.S. Vygotskii (ed.), Voprosy vospitaniia slepykh, glukhonemykh i umstvenno-otstalykh detei (Moscow, 1924), 16.

112. Zamskii, Umstvenno otstalye deti, op. cit. (note 2), 311.

The article is based on a paper presented at the symposium ‘Lechenie: Thinking about Therapy in Russian/Soviet Medicine’, held at St Antony’s College, University of Oxford, on 5–6 June 2014. I am grateful to the organisers, Dan Healey, Fran Bernstein and Chris Burton, without whose invitation, feedback and encouragement this article would not have been written. I would also like to thank the two anonymous readers for their valuable feedback and suggestions for improvement. Research that went into this article was funded by the British Academy (SG101445; MD140022) and the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council (AH/J00362X/1).


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Lechebnaia pedagogika: The Concept and Practice of Therapy in Russian Defectology, c. 1880–1936

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