Books, Journals, New Media Section Editor: Harriet
S. Meyer, MD, Contributing Editor, JAMA; Journal
Review Editor: Brenda L. Seago, MLS, MA, Medical College of Virginia, Virginia
Andrew Scull’s Madhouse: A Tragic Tale of Megalomania
and Modern Medicine, is an account of the work of psychiatrist Henry
Cotton at the Trenton State Hospital in the 1920s. During that period, Cotton
worked aggressively to treat insanity (the scientific term of the time) through
a systematic removal of patients’ teeth, tonsils, and other organs that
he believed were the site of focal infections that were causing insanity.
As Scull points out, the theory that focal infection was the cause of mental
illness had a number of adherents at the time, and Cotton was supported in
his efforts by Adolf Meyer, the influential chairman of psychiatry at the
Johns Hopkins University.
Hirshbein LD. History. JAMA. 2005;294(8):968-969. doi:10.1001/jama.294.8.968-b