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September 11, 1996

A History of Clinical Psychiatry: The Origin and History of Psychiatric Disorders

Author Affiliations

Culver City, Calif

JAMA. 1996;276(10):836. doi:10.1001/jama.1996.03540100080036

This article is only available in the PDF format. Download the PDF to view the article, as well as its associated figures and tables.


This unique book deals with the origin of psychiatric disorders. There is a sweep of 4000 years, going back to the Greeks, who were the first to classify and accept psychiatric diseases as natural disorders. The disorders, which had been considered a sign of divine punishment, could instead then be studied and treated.

The volume has three parts: "Neuropsychiatric Disorders," "Functional Psychoses," and "Neuroses and Personality Disorders." There are 44 contributors and very detailed chapter bibliographies. Each topic has both a clinical section and a social section, which adds to the comprehensiveness. Some conditions described by these British authors, eg, strokes, parkinsonism, Huntington disease, epilepsy, and multiple sclerosis, are not treated by American psychiatrists, but rather neurologists.

The authors provide a panoramic understanding of the diseases as viewed by physicians of different eras, such as Galen, who described dynamic and static tremors, and Parkinson, who described the gradual and insidious