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Books, Journals, New Media
April 22/29, 1998

History of Psychiatry: Mental Ills and Bodily Cures: Psychiatric Treatment in the First Half of the Twentieth Century

Author Affiliations

Harriet S.MeyerMD, Contributing EditorJonathan D.EldredgeMLS, PhD, Journal Review EditorRobertHoganMD, adviser for new media


Not Available

JAMA. 1998;279(16):1316-1317. doi:10.1001/jama.279.16.1316-JBK0422-2-1

In Mental Ills and Bodily Cures, Joel Braslow can be seen to have three purposes. First, he paints a picture of state hospital psychiatry as it existed in the United States in the first 50 years of this century. Second, he proposes a thesis that the treatment efforts of the period were almost uniformly directed toward the body as the seat of the patient's disorder, with little or no attention paid to the person's uniqueness or the effects on the patient of the social relationships within the hospital. Third, he offers a warning, derived from this history, that the current dominion of biological thinking in the treatment of psychiatrically ill patients may be a repetition of what he sees as the errors of the past. The book is in the mode of current, more critical historiographic views of what has happened in psychiatry, and it is in this sense akin to the deconstructionist efforts of Michel Foucault and Erving Goffman.