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A History of Psychiatry: From the Era of the Asylum to the Age of Prozac Paperback – Mar 3 1998


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (March 3 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0471245313
  • ISBN-13: 978-0471245315
  • Product Dimensions: 23 x 16 x 3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 726 g
  • Average Customer Review: 2.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #195,011 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents


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Before the end of the eighteenth century, there was no such thing as psychiatry. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Mira de Vries TOP 1000 REVIEWER on Aug. 8 2011
Format: Paperback
Maybe I was wrong. When I reviewed Gemma Blok's history of anti-psychiatry in the Netherlands, I criticized her for interjecting her opinions, instead of sticking to reporting the facts. Perhaps that's not how historians see their role. Edward Shorter never even bothers to make a pretense of objectivity. I do admit that his unashamedly judgmental writing style makes for a stirring read. Let me be equally unashamedly judgmental about him.

For one thing, Shorter loves psychiatry. That's clear. For another, there's no mistaking what his favored model of psychiatry is. He lavishes praise on early German psychiatry which was well-funded by the state, enabling plenty of experimentation, as "the triumphs of science" add to the national prestige. He even goes so far as describing the structure within which Kraepelin worked as "majesty." On France of the same period he pours scorn for being "a second-rate psychiatric power," whereas in pitiful England, where teaching hospitals were dependent on charity, there was little science at all, according to Shorter.

Shorter credits Kraepelin, a neurologist according to him, with being the inventor of psychotherapy, although it wasn't called that at the time of course. Wealthy people loathed asylums, so they avoided them by pretending their personal problems were neurological diseases. That's why they became known as neuroses. Neurologists soon recognized the role of placebo treatments (which worked) for these non-diseases, although neurology is actually, according to Shorter, the science of unusual and incurable diseases of the central nervous system.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on Nov. 18 2000
Format: Paperback
Shorter's book is an important addition to the history of psychiatry. It falls short because of Shorter's "over kill" in his polemic against psychoanalysis. The Freudian perspective needs thoughtful criticism, but Shorter's attacks become carping. Psychoanalysis has made important cultural contributions, and many people have received benefit from the analyst's couch. Good history should have a direction, even a perspective. But Shorter's history would have been better served with a calmer and more balanced voice.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By G Marx on Sept. 2 2003
Format: Paperback
I really enjoyed the part of this book on the history of psychiatry. Unfortunately only about 60% of the book is on this topic and the rest consists of Shorter's unbalanced opinions. As a Psychiartic Registrar/resident slightly more simpathetic to the Biological approach, even I found this book extremely biased. Shorter's concrete style of reasoning makes him far more suitable to write a book on the history of surgery. The finer nuances and richness of the field of psychiatry is clearly outside his grasp.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on Nov. 18 2000
Format: Paperback
Shorter's book is an important addition to the history of psychiatry. It falls short because of Shorter's "over kill" in his polemic against psychoanalysis. The Freudian perspective needs thoughtful criticism, but Shorter's attacks become carping. Psychoanalysis has made important cultural contributions, and many people have received benefit from the analyst's couch. Good history should have a direction, even a perspective. But Shorter's history would have been better served with a calmer and more balanced voice.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 24 1999
Format: Paperback
This book is a one-sided polemic. The author clearly believes that only the "biological" approach to psychiatry is worth anything, but instead of presenting his case as an honest argument, he gives us a weighted, colored, and biased view of history. I was very disappointed.
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