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Book and Media Reviews
August 20, 2008

History of Psychiatry and Medical Psychology

JAMA. 2008;300(7):854-855. doi:10.1001/jama.300.7.jbk0820-f

This book is for someone who is really, really interested in the history of psychiatry. Each era or topic touched on—classical antiquity, German Romantic psychiatry, Freud, psychopharmacology—is covered in exceptional detail. Gaps in one's knowledge of psychiatric concepts and practice during past epochs are generously filled in, along with more than a dollop of cultural context. Chapter authors make commendable use of primary sources, providing pertinent, sometimes lengthy quotations. The movers and shakers get meticulous attention. Their ideas are thoroughly discussed, as are the forces, cultural and otherwise, that influenced them. Readers learn that Benjamin Rush, considered the father of American psychiatry, not only promoted bleeding as the treatment for all forms of madness, he also invented a tranquilizing chair and dabbled in nosology; tristimania, manalgia, and manicula are among the diagnoses he proposed.

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