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Masters of the Mind: Exploring the Story of Mental Illness from Ancient Times to the New Millennium [Hardcover]

Theodore Millon

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Book Description

Aug. 6 2004
The compelling story of the quest to understand the human mind - and its diseases

This engaging presentation of our evolving understanding of the human mind and the meaning of mental illness asks the questions that have fascinated philosophers, researchers, clinicians, and ordinary persons for millennia: What causes human behavior? What processes underlie personal functioning and psychopathology, and what methods work best to alleviate disorders of the mind? Written by Theodore Millon, a leading researcher in personality theory and psychopathology, it features dozens of illuminating profiles of famous clinicians and philosophers.

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A magnificent work from an author who is, himself, a master of the mind. — Raymond D. Fowler, Ph.D. (Past President and former CEO of the American Psychological Association)

Sweeping in scope and truly impressive in its scholarship, Millon’s text traces historical developments and identifies the thinkers and scientists who from antiquity to the present time have shaped contemporary understanding of how the mind works. This captivating and informative volume will be appreciated and valued by all readers interested in the history of ideas. —Irving B. Weiner, Ph.D. (University of South Florida)

Wide ranging, cohesive and imminently readable, Theodore Millon’s Masters of the Mind is a tour de force from one of the world’s leading psychologists....a major touchstone for all those interested in these fascinating stories of mental disorders and the search for systems to understand and treat [them]. —Jeffrey J. Magnavita, Ph.D. (Connecticut Center for Short-Term Dynamic Psychotherapy)

A fascinating, informative, comprehensive, broad-minded, brilliant and perceptive tour of the universe of views of mental function and dysfunction, this book helps the reader understand contributions from nearly every conceivably relevant discipline throughout history. Himself, a long time advocate and practitioner of creative and integrative theory supported by data (as well as measurement techniques designed to generate such data), Millon provides enlightening commentary at the end of each chapter as well as in an epilogue at the end of the book. After reviewing a breathtaking array of perspectives, he offers a simple but profound suggestion for how to put it together. "Intrinsic unity cannot be invented.. by arbitrary efforts to synthesize disparate and disjunctive theoretical schemas... The natural sythesis.. inheres within patients themselves." In this wisdom, he urges all of us - clinicians, theorists and researchers alike – to stay close to the data offered !by real persons- whole human beings seen in the broad array of contexts marked by Millon in this amazing and wonderful book I shall ask that all of my trainees read and re-read it, whether they are still in professional schools, or returning for continuing education. — Lorna Smith Benjamin, Ph.D.(University of Utah)

From the Inside Flap

An enlightening study of how philosophers and clinicians throughout history have understood the mind and mental illness

What is thought? What are dreams? Do thoughts and dreams lead us to do the things we do, or are there unknown factors that shape our behavior? If a person’s actions are aberrant or disturbing, does the cause lie in their mental state, their cultural environment, the brain? What in fact causes these disorders? Such questions regarding the mind, its maladies, and its health have fascinated thinkers around the world since–and no doubt before–the beginning of recorded thought.

A dazzling piece of intellectual, scientific, and medical history, Theodore Millon’s Masters of the Mind takes you on a grand tour of humankind’s attempts to understand itself. Millon, a major figure among today’s psychological experts, considers the full scope of mental science, from its precedents in early thought, through the rise of its disciplines in the twentieth century, and on to the newest paradigms at work in the twenty-first century.

You’ll discover how some of the world’s first civilizations regarded mental illness, from Chinese descriptions of "diseases of the wind," to the ancient Egyptian characterization of hysteria, to Greek ideas of divine retribution. Moving easily through the centuries, Millon traces the rise of rationality in philosophy and the beginnings of scientific diagnosis and treatment. In clear, vibrant prose, accompanied by original illustrations, he introduces a cast of characters that includes the great contributors as well as the minor yet fascinating figures who too often are excluded from large-scale histories.

Neither an endless catalogue of central thinkers nor a plodding parade of clinical theories, Masters of the Mind is instead a layered work, deftly tracing the different intellectual strands modern psychology and psychiatry have drawn on and woven together. In doing so, it reveals a field humming with an astonishing diversity of seven key perspectives–humanist, neurological, socio-cultural, and personologic among them–each with its own historic roots, yet all carrying on great traditions of inquiry and healing.

The Roman scholar Cicero wrote, "Those who know only their own generation always remain children." Masters of the Mind opens a door to earlier generations’ pondering the mind and consciousness; this link gives the ideas of the present a new clarity. Anyone working in psychology and the neurosciences today–and indeed anyone who loves the story of human knowledge–will want to pick up this wide-ranging, enjoyable, and illuminating book.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
Current theories and known facts about personality and behavior are the product of a long and continuing history of human curiosity and achievement (Millon, 1969). Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.5 out of 5 stars  4 reviews
37 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome one-of-a-kind history of psychology! Aug. 22 2004
By Doctor Robert - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
If you are a true lifelong student of psychology and the mind, you have got to read this book. It truly is the most comprehensive, interesting, and honest history of clinical psychology available today.

Among the best features of the book is its honest and inspiring look at the multiple perspectives which abound in today's psychology and how they can be traced to ancient times. The ancient/sacred, neuroscience, psychoanalytic, cognitive, behavioral, gestalt, humanistic and socio-cultural perspectives are all traced and detailed. Millon avoids disparaging each perspective. Instead, he shares the strengths and weaknesses in the words and actions of the scientists and philosophers whose works represent the critical thoughts in each area.

While it is difficult to read more than one chapter at a time (it is that comprehensive and detailed), a chapter a day will certainly make for an excellent review of psychology for a good two weeks. In fact, the last two weeks have been remarkably educational. (I decided to read this book during a two week break from graduate classes).

For each perspective, Millon follows a three stage process of detailing its hisory. First, he offers a summary and review of the major historical movements within the perspective. Then, a detailed history (person by person, country by country) is proffered. Finally, Millon offers his own unique and insightful commentary. Millon and his daughter's own artwork (portraits of key scientists and philosophers) provide helpful context. In addition, each scientist's contributions are shared in concert with a brief biography. Finally, in those cases where Millon actually met or worked with one of the psychologists, he shares his own observations. For example, Beck truly does appear to be a nice guy, while Ellis appears truly narcissistic and arrogant.

I'll admit that the average reader may find Millon's style, at times, difficult. He loves to use big words and assumes some level of prior understanding of psychological constructs. However, as a psychology instructor and student, I found his book enlightening, interesting, at times funny, and many times educational. The book offered incredible food for my college lectures and inspired me to continue to hold on to a multi-perspective, eclectic view of the cause of mental illness. It truly appears likely from history that a multi-perspective view is most consistent with a view of humans as complex with behaviors that could result from the interaction of numerous causes.

That's just my opinion...
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Masters of the Mind: Exploring the Story of Mental Illness from Ancient Times to the New Millenium Oct. 20 2013
By Dawn B. - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is one of my favorite books. I typically write about psych topics for college, so it has become an invaluable part of my growing collection. This book is fascinating, informative, comprehensive--a truly magnificent work. I would love to see a newer edition to include the past decade.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent & insightful May 11 2013
By Amazon Customer - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This book is a significant contribution to the field of psychology. The skillful weaving together of so many diverse, conflicting, but interdependent views is a daunting task that I think is well executed. However - when Millon discusses Millon in the third person, there is something quite peculiar going on. Then, in the section on Marsha Linehan, when Millon, for no logical reason that I can deduce, continues his commentary on Millon . . . You don't need to be a psychologist to appreciate the foible on display for all to see, but it helps. It also makes me feel much better about my own foibles.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars To keep handy Nov. 1 2011
By Old_doc - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
It is a great book to follow the time line of thoughts about Mental Illness. It is a great book for academics/ researchers in the field. It is not an easy reading, but all in all it is a "must have" for people in the mental health field and also interested in history.

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