Into the Snake Pit: An Interview with Ben Harris, PhD
Two doctors discuss the controversial, highly debated film, The Snake Pit.
We Think We Have Problems? 5 Supernatural Entities the Premodern World Had to Worry About
Throughout history and across cultures, monsters have helped communities teach lessons and affirm their values.
The Spanish Flu Pandemic and Mental Health: A Historical Perspective
Have we learned anything? Looking back at the Spanish flu epidemic as the world deals with the COVID pandemic.
The Legacy of Political Persecution
As historians and mental health professionals both know, in the words of the writer William Faulkner, “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.”
Before Personality: Character Assessment and Its Troubled History
The 20th century introduced a number of new concepts to psychiatry and clinical psychology. One of the most influential has been the notion of personality.
Five Trends in Historical Research on Psychiatry and Mental Health
An assessment of what has been accomplished, how the field is changing, and new directions for scholarship as we forge ahead into the next year.
A “Sickness of Our Time”: How Suicide First Became a Research Question
In 1897, the French sociologist Émile Durkheim (1858-1917) published Le suicide: Étude de sociologie [Suicide: A Study in Sociology]. With it, Durkheim largely succeeded in achieving one of his main goals.
5 New Books in the History of Psychiatry to Read for 2018
A selection of noteworthy books to add to your reading list. Can you think of others?
ECT: History of a Psychiatric Controversy
The author interviews Jonathan Sadowsky, PhD, historian of psychiatry, about his book Electroconvulsive Therapy in America: The Anatomy of a Medical Controversy.
The Holiday Syndrome: Who Exactly Came Up With the Idea of Those Christmas Blues?
Since ancient times, doctors have shown a good deal of interest in identifying seasonal patterns in the incidence of symptoms and disease. Could the holiday blues be a myth?
A Methamphetamine Dictatorship? Hitler, Nazi Germany, and Drug Abuse
What do we know about the health and drug consumption habits of the Nazi leader of the German people from 1933 to 1945?
Madness, Psychiatry, and the Visual Arts in History
While much in the history of “madness” has changed over the course of time, one of the most consistent-yet sometimes overlooked-features of that history has been the presence of the visual arts.
Top 10 Changes in Psychiatry
The events here were cited as the most important changes in psychiatry since 1945.
The 10 Most Important Changes in Psychiatry Since 1945: An Invitation to Readers
The views of mental health experts on changes in psychiatric theory and practice since World War II.
Can Climate Be Hazardous to Your Mental Health? A View From History
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.
The Psychiatrist, the Aliens, and “Going Native”
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.
The First World War and the Legacy of Shellshock
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.
A “Painful and Toilsome Tour”: Revisiting Dorothea Dix’s Advocacy for the Mad
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.
Psychiatry, Clinical Psychology, and Psychotherapy: The Question of Politics
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.
The Medicalization of Grief: What We Can Learn From 19th-Century Nervousness
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.
Taking Stock of the History of Psychiatry at H-Madness
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.
Voices From the Past: Work and the Permeable Walls of the Asylum
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.
Psychagogy: Psychotherapy’s Remarkably Resilient Predecessor
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.
Hypersexual Disorder: An Encounter With Don Juan in the Archives
Historical records reveal Don Juan syndrome was a recognized diagnosis that referred to forms of hypersexuality and sex addiction.
Voices From the Past: An Asylum Superintendent on the Importance of Structures
In last month’s column, I discussed how 19th century psychiatrists began recognizing the possibility that a mental disorder might affect only one facet of an individual’s personality (volition), leaving others relatively untouched.
“Actions Involuntary, Instinctive, Irresistible”: The Disordered Will of the 19th Century
Psychology and psychiatry at the turn of the last century considered the will an indispensable category. Not so today.
The Early Psychiatrist: A Piercing Eye and Commanding Presence
What is often forgotten, however, is that things such as client-centered therapy, “mental hygiene,” and “self-help” were also responses to another phenomenon-the charismatic physician.
Beyond Right and Wrong: Standards by Which to Measure the Past
In a recent college course, Dr Eghigian asked his students to discuss long-term patterns and trends in the history of the handling of mental illness. He was struck by a recurring tendency. Most students portrayed the history of mental health in one of two ways.
Voices From the Past: Lightner Witmer’s “Clinical Psychology”
While there has been a robust interest for decades among scholars in the history of psychiatry, comparatively little has been shown the history of clinical psychology, despite its marked impact on mental health care.
When Discipline Was the Therapy: Hans Fallada’s The Drinker
Alcohol has had a long and checkered history in human affairs. Dating back millennia to ancient Egypt, its consumption has been associated with sacredness as well as frivolity.
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