Morals, Madness, and the Mind: Facts and fantasies regarding colonial psychiatry in the Dutch East Indies during the Dutch Ethical Policy, ca. 1890 – 1930
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In 1901, Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands officially established the Dutch Ethical Policy. This new policy was supposed to bring reforms into the Dutch colonies, in order to make sure that the indigenous population would be treated in a more humane way. This paper researches the effects on mental health care, specifically. It was not until the 1890s that the Dutch government started to show interest in psychiatric institutions – around the same time Ethical Policy made its way into political discourse. Other European colonies in Southeast Asia seemed to be going through similar developments as well. These developments seemed promising, but after 1901, when Dutch Ethical Policy officially became the Dutch colonial policy, the interest in psychiatric care seemed to quickly decrease. In 1908, the government even announced cutbacks in the budget for mental health care. Although the nineties seemed promising, the actual establishment of Ethical Policy did not influence psychiatry in the Dutch East Indies until the 1920s.