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June 28, 1976

Textbook of Disturbances of Mental Life, or Disturbances of the Soul and Their Treatment

JAMA. 1976;235(26):2866. doi:10.1001/jama.1976.03260520058034

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 fluent, highly readable text, the first English translation of Johann Christian Heinroth's famous Lehrbuch der Störungen des Seelenlebens, will hold special interest for those interested in the philosophical aspects of psychiatry. Heinroth's textbook generated a heated controversy between the psychic and somatic schools of psychiatry in Germany when it was published in 1818. Although he acknowledged that there were organic causes of insanity, Heinroth, physician and philosopher, sought to give medical psychology a philosophic foundation based on the then-prevalent German Naturphilosophie. He held that the essential quality of the human spirit was freedom, and that freedom was different from nature and often conflicted with it. Reason, the instrument of God, mediated between Man and Nature. As long as man subordinated spirit to Reason by an act of will, he could live a good and sane existence in harmony with Nature. If he refused, he would be trapped in the