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Books, Journals, New Media
August 24/31, 2005


Author Affiliations

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 Commonwealth University.

JAMA. 2005;294(8):968-969. doi:10.1001/jama.294.8.968-b

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.

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