Back Magazine. Subscribe Issue Archive. Back Today. Consider Sleep and Screen Time. Inflammation and the 3 Paths of Depression in Older Adults. Neel Burton M.
Follow me on Twitter. Friend me on Faceook. A Brief History of Psychiatry The history of psychiatry reflects paradigmatic shifts in the history of ideas. Submitted by David Petropoulos on June 5, - am. A Great piece! Post Comment Your name. E-mail The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
Notify me when new comments are posted. All comments.
Replies to my comment. Leave this field blank. About the Author. In Print:. Hypersanity: Thinking Beyond Thinking. View Author Profile. More Posts.
Is the Joker Hypersane? He combined his considerable abilities as historian, teacher, writer and broadcaster to put together books remarkable for their intelligence, wit and clarity. Porter is scholarly without being abstruse, and can be brief without being superficial.
To some extent, Madness: A Brief History is a pocket-sized distillation of Porter's long-standing interest in the history of psychiatry and mental illness. In he published A Social History of Madness. Four years later his Faber Book of Madness appeared.
- Your Right to Know: A Citizens Guide to the Freedom of Information Act;
- The history of psychiatry reflects paradigmatic shifts in the history of ideas..
- Fundamentals of error-correcting codes?
- Octopus: The Oceans Intelligent Invertebrate.
- Fuzzy Systems and Knowledge Discovery: Second International Conference, FSKD 2005, Changsha, China, August 27-29, 2005, Proceedings, Part II.
- Gender, Planning and Human Rights (International Studies of Women and Place).
Over the last three decades he wrote or edited 80 books. One reviewer observed that Porter wrote faster than most people read. He was also guided by the rules of eco-friendly writing: reduce, reuse, recycle. For instance, the story of medieval mystic, Margery Kempe, appeared in A Social History of Madness ; 15 years later, for Madness: A Brief History , he edited the borrowed bits to create a shorter and more energetic version. Madness: A Brief History is a fast-paced, panoramic survey of madness through the ages, accompanied by historical highlights of the enterprise we now call psychiatry.
From the outset his purpose is clear:. Porter's account starts with the Babylonians and ends with the fourth revision of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.
Madness: A Brief History
To read Porter is to enjoy not only his lively and polemical style, but also his memorable phrasemaking: therapeutic terror, medical materialism, institutional solution, atavistic degenerationism, and myth-maestro another reference to Freud. Magnus Huss in , and Johann Christian Reil at the turn of the 19th century, respectively.
Not coincidentally, I have another brief history of madness on my desk. Psychiatry in Canada: 50 years, edited by Quentin Rae-Grant, is a page collection of essays on psychiatry in Canada during the second half of the 20th century.
Whereas Porter's work is painted on a large canvas, this volume is a microhistory published to mark the 50th anniversary of the Canadian Psychiatric Association. Although Psychiatry in Canada differs in scope and style from Porter's book, I suspect that Porter would have agreed with one of Rae-Grant's conclusions about the long and winding road that is the history of psychiatry:. Before walking away in despair from the issue of mental illness, we should recognize that at least part of this despair may derive from the fact that we have no cures.
Indeed, we have no illnesses. The most admirable thing about the book is the way it balances multiple themes. Nineteenth-century asylum-building is highlighted, but not at the expense of nineteenth-century efforts to explain mental disorders as brain disorders.
Madness: a brief history by Porter, Roy,
Porter is always urbane but never bland. The account of America's mid-twentieth-century lobotomy craze, for instance, appreciates all the pressures that psychiatry was under at the time but still exudes righteous indignation. Obviously, doctors, their theories and their practices, feature prominently in the book but Porter reserves some of his most deeply-felt passages for the opinions and experiences of mad people themselves.
It is remarkable how much information is packed into the pages of this tiny volume: sentences sum up entire episodes, parenthetical remarks sketch world-views, and even the captions to the skilfully chosen illustrations supplement the text. Although any reader with any interest in the subject would find this a clear, compassionate and witty introduction, experts alone will appreciate quite how comprehensive and generous it is—and how free of the ideological obsessions and jargon-laden prose that the recent historiography of psychiatry seems unable to transcend.
National Center for Biotechnology Information , U. Journal List Med Hist v.