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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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The history of madness and its treatment is a fascinating one. At one time, the mentally ill were diagnosed as demonically possessed; later, when mental illness became the province of psychoanalysts, those conditions that are actually physical in nature, such as schizophrenia or manic depression, went insufficiently treated, their sufferers consigned to asylums. In his book, A History of Psychiatry, Edward Shorter, a medical historian at the University of Toronto, presents a concise chronology of mental illness and its treatment. Shorter favors a biological understanding of these disorders, concentrating on medical approaches to helping the seriously mentally ill. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Shorter cites recent research indicating that adult-onset schizophrenia is genetically influenced and often traceable to uterine trauma or difficult birth. In his view, brain biology and genetics underlie much mental illness, and biological psychiatry-combining drugs with psychotherapy-has replaced Freudian psychoanalysis as the dominant paradigm for explaining and treating a host of disorders. In this richly informative, iconoclastic, sure-to-be-controversial chronicle, Shorter, professor of the history of medicine at the University of Toronto, argues that Freud, by turning psychoanalysis into a movement instead of a method of objective inquiry, fostered a stifling orthodoxy, therapists' arrogance toward patients and scientific stagnation. He defends electroshock as a valuable tool in the treatment of depression; identifies German physician Emil Kraepelin, systematizer of diagnoses-rather than Freud-as the central figure in the history of psychiatry; and dismisses as unhistorical nonsense Michel Foucault's theory that psychiatry arose in a collusion between capitalism and the state as a means to control deviant individuals. While this study won't end the nature-versus-nurture debate, it mounts a formidable challenge to strict adherents of the talking therapies. Photos.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
As an aside, the occassional sarcastic, almost judgemental comments the author threw didn't sit well with me. If they had been present within an otherwise amazing narrative, perhaps I wouldn't have minded as much.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
This is an unbalanced, often inaccurate, and entirely adulatory history of psychiatry, masquerading as scholarship. Read morePublished on Nov. 14 2003 by Paul Gruchow
This book is a well written acount of the development of psychiatry through the ages. It shows in great detail (sometimes too much, hence only 4 stars) the rise, fall and rise of... Read morePublished on Jan. 10 2000
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... Read morePublished on May 24 1999
Highly intelligent, principled writing. Not opinionated, but has opinions, argues for them, convinces the reader. Read morePublished on March 1 1998
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