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History of Psychiatry

Welcome to the History Page

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. For Dr Eghigian's author page, please click here.

 

History of Psychiatry

A limited sampling presented here lends no support to Dr Thomas Szasz’s claim that 19th century physicians regarded the term “mental disease” as merely a figure of speech; on the contrary, several prominent physicians of this era recognized such conditions as both real and debilitating.

In the 1980s, thousands of patients insisted they were recovering childhood memories of physical and sexual abuse during Satanic cult rituals. Here: a look back at the moral panic.

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.

In the run-up to publication of DSM-5, there was much discussion of the extent to which the pharmaceutical industry—“Big Pharma”—stood to profit from the revisions.

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.

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