University of Oulu

Myllykangas, M. (2020). "The curse and the gift of modernity in late nineteenth-century suicide discourse in Finland". In Progress and pathology. Manchester, England: Manchester University Press.

The curse and the gift of modernity in late nineteenth-century suicide discourse in Finland

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Author: Myllykangas, Mikko
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.4 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Manchester University Press, 2020
Publish Date: 2020-11-13


In this chapter, Mikko Myllykangas considers the phenomenon of suicide as discursively connected both to the conditions of modern life and to social degeneration and decline at the fin de siècle. In Finland, the principal case study of the chapter, the psychiatrist Thiodolf Saelan explicitly attributed the slowly increasing suicide rates in Finland to modern urban lifestyles, in an effort to accentuate the cultural differences between so-called ‘modernised’ Western nations, and other cultures. Myllykangas interrogates such claims in the context of Finnish society, which, he notes, was at a very different stage of industrial transition than many of its Western European counterparts. Analysis of the divergent constructions of the role of modernity in relation to suicide ultimately illustrate the ways in which physiological and psychological problems of the period were being constituted in relation to their social contexts and to the changing dynamics of urbanisation and industrialisation.

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ISBN: 978-1-5261-4754-7
ISBN Print: 978-1-5261-3368-7
Pages: 194 - 213
DOI: 10.7765/9781526147547.00016
Host publication: Progress and pathology: Medicine and culture in the nineteenth century
Host publication editor: Dickson, Melissa
Taylor-Brown, Emilie
Shuttleworth, Sally
Type of Publication: A3 Book chapter
Field of Science: 3142 Public health care science, environmental and occupational health
615 History and archaeology
Copyright information: © Manchester University Press 2020. While copyright in the volume as a whole is vested in Manchester University Press, copyright in individual chapters belongs to their respective authors.This electronic version has been made freely available under a Creative Commons (CC-BY-NC-ND) licence which permits non-commercial use, distribution and reproduction provided the editors, chapter authors and Manchester University Press are fully cited and no modifications or adaptations are made. Details of the licence can be viewed at