Syllabus: Kushner, “Mental Health and Public Health” and “Madness, the Brain, and Culture in Interdisciplinary Perspective”

This is another installment in our series on university and college courses dealing with the history of madness, mental illness, and psychiatry.

Howard I. Kushner is the Nat C. Robertson Distinguished Professor of Science & Society at Emory University where he holds a joint appointment as Professor in the Department of Behavioral Sciences and Health Education in Rollins School of Public Health and in the Graduate Institute of Liberal Arts in the College of Arts and Sciences. Kushner, a historian of medicine, is author of four books, including American Suicide: A Psychocultural Exploration (1991) and A Cursing Brain? The Histories of Tourette Syndrome (1999) and numerous articles on medical and psychiatric history in journals including Lancet, the Bulletin of the History of Medicine, Perspectives in Biology & Medicine, Journal of the History of Medicine, Journal of Pediatric Infectious Disease, and Pediatric Cardiology.  He is co-editor of a special issue of BioSocieties, 5 (March 2010) entitled “Drugs, addiction and society.”  He is currently working on a book-length study of the history of laterality and mental disorders.

Kushner’s course, “Madness, the Brain, and Culture in Interdisciplinary Perspective,” is an interdisciplinary exploration of mental disorders in psychological, neurobiological, historical and cultural perspective. Conditions examined include autism, hysteria, schizophrenia, depression, bi-polar disorders, post traumatic stress disorder, multiple personality disorder, eating disorders, attention deficit, and Tourette syndrome.  The reading and discussions consider the impact of racism, class, and gender on the construction of, explanations for, and interventions developed to treat mental illnesses. All these syndromes will also be viewed in the context of an increasing public health concern with mental health and mental illness.  Attention is paid to the putative neurobiological and psychiatric mechanisms associated with these disorders.

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