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Psychiatry and Its Discontents
Scull, Andrew
University of California Press / Hardcover / 2019-08-01 / 0520305493
Psychiatry / Social & Political Issues
reg price: $40.95 our price: $ 36.86
376 pages
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Written by one of the world’s most distinguished historians of psychiatry, Psychiatry and Its Discontents provides a wide-ranging and critical perspective on the profession that dominates the treatment of mental illness. Andrew Scull traces the rise of the field, the midcentury hegemony of psychoanalytic methods, and the paradigm’s decline with the ascendance of biological and pharmaceutical approaches to mental illness. The book’s historical sweep is broad, ranging from the age of the asylum to the rise of psychopharmacology and the dubious triumphs of “community care.” The essays in Psychiatry and Its Discontents provide a vivid and compelling portrait of the recurring crises of legitimacy experienced by “mad-doctors,” as psychiatrists were once called, and illustrates the impact of psychiatry’s ideas and interventions on the lives of those afflicted with mental illness.


“An enthralling collection that will shock many, enrage some, and entertain all.”—Simon Rich, author of Hits and Misses

“A must-read for those interested in learning about the fraught history of psychiatry.”—Susannah Cahalan, author of Brain on Fire

“Andrew Scull’s deep historical knowledge of the interlocking fields of neurology, psychiatry, psychoanalysis, neuroscience, and psychology give him unparalleled insight into mental health. Psychiatry and Its Discontents should be read by historians, social scientists, practitioners, and patients alike.”—Lisa Appignanesi, author of Everyday Madness and Mad, Bad, and Sad

“The definitive account of the treatment of mental illness from its beginnings to the present day. An outstanding accomplishment.”—Patrick McGrath, author of Spider, Asylum, and Trauma

“Scull is a master of the complex space where history, sociology, social policy, and ethics meet. An indispensable book for anyone concerned with history and health policy.”—Charles E. Rosenberg, author of Our Present Complaint

“A bracing and important contribution to the history of psychiatry. I may disagree with several of its conclusions and the things Scull chooses to emphasize, but the book is meant to be provocative. It engages the reader in thinking about the controversies that attend the study and treatment of mental illness.”—Kay Redfield Jamison, author of Robert Lowell: Setting the River on Fire

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations

1. Introduction: The Travails of Psychiatry

PART 1. The Asylum and Its Discontents
2. The Fictions of Foucault’s Scholarship: Madness and Civilization Revisited
3. The Asylum, the Hospital, and the Clinic
4. A Culture of Complaint: Psychiatry and Its Critics
5. Promises of Miracles: Religion as Science, and Science as Religion

PART 2. Whither Twentieth-Century Psychiatry?
6. Burying Freud
7. Psychobiology, Psychiatry, and Psychoanalysis: The Intersecting Careers of Adolf Meyer, Phyllis Greenacre, and Curt Richter
8. Mangling Memories
9. Creating a New Psychiatry: On the Rockefeller Foundation and the Rise of Academic Psychiatry

PART 3. Transformations and Interpretations
10. Shrinks: Doctor Pangloss
11. The Hunting of the Snark: The Search for a History of Neuropsychiatry
12. Contending Professions: Sciences of Brain and Mind in the United States, 1900–2013

PART 4. Neuroscience and the Biological Turn
13. Trauma
14. Empathy: Reading Other People’s Minds
15. Mind, Brain, Law, and Culture
16. Left Brain, Right Brain, One Brain, Two Brains
17. Delusions of Progress: Psychiatry’s Diagnostic Manual


About the Author:

Andrew Scull is Distinguished Research Professor of Sociology and Science Studies at the University of California, San Diego. He is past president of the Society for the Social History of Medicine and the author of numerous books, including Madness in Civilization, Hysteria, and others.

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