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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.
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.
"From the Victorian asylum era and the rise and fall of psychoanalysis to the arrival of psychopharmacology and neuroscience, Scull chronicles the medicalization of mental illness with balance and scepticism. He is trenchant on psychiatry’s failures, from prefrontal lobotomy to ‘care in the community’; critical of neuro-reductionism; eloquent on diagnosis debates; and ever aware of the human suffering at his chronicle’s core.” — Nature
“As a collection of previously published material gathered from diverse sources, this book suffers from a certain amount of repetition; however the author has done a service in bringing it together, the writing is lively, the scandals attached to its principal actors are dutifully weighed and the scholarship is impressive.” — Times Literary Supplement
"A lucid mixture of biography, bibliography, and historiography – a personal narrative of the shifting terrain of madness scholarship over five decades." — Medical Health News
“Scull’s encyclopedic knowledge of American (and British) psychiatry has something to teach any reader.” — Social Service Review
“[Scull’s] writing combines the structural curiosity of the sociologist with the historian’s quizzical eye and interest in causation. Scull’s significant corpus in the history of madness ranges from the rise of the asylum and psychiatry’s slow, fitful emergence under its eaves to a magisterial study of madness in world civilisations. It provides necessary ballast for the volume’s freewheeling adventurism.”
— Australian Book Review
“Our most accomplished historian of madness and its treatments . . . . Scull, as always, is acute in his assessment and critique. . . . A vital and original perspective on the reshaping of mental medicine.” ?
— Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences
"Scull writes with style and wit. He is, by turns, skeptical, combative and passionate, especially in his denouncements of treatments. . . . Although one may not agree with all of Scull's opinions, these essays offer a stimulating and provoking account of psychiatry, past and present." — British Journal of Psychiatry
"Andrew Scull is without a doubt one of the major names in the history of late 20th-century psychiatry. In a period of historiographical renewal that, influenced by such authors as Foucault and Goffman, came to offer highly critical views of psychiatry—against the backdrop of anti-psychiatry and the emergence of the survivors of psychiatry movement—Scull's work always maintained a balance, which was not always easy to hold. . . . The collection does have the virtue of offering an overview of Scull's thinking on the subject."
"Scull is able to bring to each lively and engaging chapter, no matter how seemingly narrow in focus, a wealth of historical research, sociological analysis, and humane reflection that places each fragmentary account into a richer and more coherent historical narrative." — Society