Professor Dany Nobus to receive Sarton Medal

Published: Friday 10 June 2016
Professor Dany Nobus
Professor Dany Nobus

Professor Nobus will receive the award in April 2017 

The Sarton Committee of the University of Ghent has announced that Professor Dany Nobus, Brunel's Pro-Vice-Chancellor for External Affairs, will be awarded the 2016-17 Sarton Medal, in recognition of his many outstanding contributions to the history and theory of psychoanalysis. The Medal is named after George Sarton (1884-1956), who is considered the founding father of the history of science as an academic discipline, and who was an alumnus of Ghent University.

Professor Nobus was proposed by the University's Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences, and his nomination was subsequently ratified by the Sarton Committee. The Medal will be bestowed at a public ceremony on 27 April 2017. He commented, "I feel both exceptionally honoured and deeply humbled by the Sarton Committee's decision to bestow this award upon me. Much of what I know about the history, theory and practice of psychoanalysis I learnt at the University of Ghent, which is my alma mater, so this award also comes in recognition of all the wonderful people who taught me there, and who continue to inspire me. In addition, given how psychoanalysis is generally perceived as an outdated pseudo-science in psychology departments, it is also particularly gratifying to see how the nomination was driven by the University's Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences, which may mean that there is still hope for academics like myself working in a division of psychology!"

Following the laudatio Professor Nobus will deliver a public lecture entitled 'Freud Unbound: The Shaping of Psychoanalysis by the Great War'. In the lecture he will investigate the historical reasons as to why psychoanalysis, both in theory and clinical practice, gained so much momentum after World War I. Professor Nobus will argue that psychoanalysis benefited enormously from the great war, so much so that Freud wrote to his colleague Sandor Ferenczi in Hungary saying that in one sense it was a shame the war was over: "No sooner does it [psychoanalysis] begin to interest the world on account of the war neuroses than the war ends." 

During WW1 many soldiers returned from the front with so-called shell-shock syndrome, not showing any observable internal and/or external lesions, yet displaying the same motor and sensory symptoms as hysterical patients. This observation made many clinicians reconsider the value of psychoanalysis, and in the end the psychoanalytic theory of neurosis (and its application to war neurosis) prevailed as an explanation.

Page last updated: Friday 10 June 2016