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Greg Eghigian, PhD

Greg Eghigian, PhD

Greg Eghigian, PhD, Section Editor for Psychiatric Times History of Psychiatry, is Associate Professor of Modern History and former Director of the Science, Technology, and Society Program at Penn State University, University Park, Pa. He writes and teaches on the history of madness, mental illness, and mental health in the Western world. He is the editor and author of numerous books, most recently From Madness to Mental Health: Psychiatric Disorder and its Treatment in Western Civilization (Rutgers University Press; 2010). He is also co-editor of the scholarly blog, h-madness.

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The views of mental health experts on changes in psychiatric theory and practice since World War II.

It is clear that unless things change radically in the coming decades, psychiatry—like other branches of medicine—will have to accommodate itself to the effects of disruptions to existing ecosystems.

After years of working with troubled individuals claiming to have been abducted by extraterrestrials, Harvard University Professor John Mack published a book. What made Mack and the book so controversial was the fact that he had come to accept that his patients’ stories were an accurate description of real events.

In the history of psychiatry, the First World War is often identified with the rise of the disorder of “shellshock.” However, many in both the medical community and the military establishment were dubious of the claim that war could produce psychiatric symptoms.

During the first half of the 19th century, the asylum appeared to offer an innovative way for society to humanely manage and effectively treat mental illness.

If historians have demonstrated anything, it is that psychiatry, clinical psychology, and psychotherapy cannot be neatly associated with any one particular kind of political ideology or movement.

Concerns are raised about DSM-5 revisions in the definition of depression. Many worry that eliminating the bereavement exception in the guidelines for the diagnosis of major depressive disorder represents a dangerous move.

Very important—but generally neglected—aspects of the history of psychiatry provide something of a glimpse of what historians of mental health and illness are mulling over these days.

The history of the 19th and early 20th century asylum is a history of locking up patients . . . or so it has seemed. Since the 1950s and 1960s when the history of psychiatry first took off, scholars have generally conceded that asylums were primarily institutions of confinement.

A common misconception about the history of mental illness is that, before Freud and psychoanalysis, there was no such thing as talk therapies or what is commonly known today as psychotherapy.


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