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October 16, 1981

Benjamin Rush's Lectures on the Mind

JAMA. 1981;246(16):1839-1840. doi:10.1001/jama.1981.03320160057038

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The editors have furnished readers with a complete version of Benjamin Rush's lectures on the mind. These classes were delivered by Rush at the University of Pennsylvania between 1791 and his death in 1813. They formed part of the so-called Institutes of Medicine, an exposition of medical principles articulating both the human physiology and pathology that governed health and disease.

The volume is provided with a general introduction containing a brief biographical sketch of Rush, the man and teacher, followed by an essay on the 18th-century Institutes of Medicine tradition and their relationship to psychology. While including mental faculties and operations in these lectures, Rush recognized the impossibility of explaining them neurophysiologically. According to the editors, he was a follower of David Hartley (1705-1757), the English philosopher and physician who founded associational psychology. A perceptive commentary on the unity and peculiarity of Rush's thought that embraced Christianity, republicanism, morality, and