Archive for the ‘ book ’ Category

New book – “The Inkblots: Hermann Rorschach, his Iconic Test, and the Power of Seeing” (Damion Searls)

inkblotsH-Madness readers might be interested in the newly published book The Inkblots: Hermann Rorschach, his Iconic Test, and the Power of Seeing by Damion Searls (Penguin Random House, 2017).

The publisher’s website reads:

The captivating, untold story of Hermann Rorschach and his famous inkblot test

In 1917, working alone in a remote Swiss asylum, psychiatrist Hermann Rorschach devised an experiment to probe the human mind: a set of ten carefully designed inkblots. For years he had grappled with the theories of Freud and Jung while also absorbing the aesthetic movements of the day, from Futurism to Dadaism. A visual artist himself, Rorschach had come to believe that who we are is less a matter of what we say, as Freud thought, than what we see.

After Rorschach’s early death, his test quickly made its way to America, where it took on a life of its own. Co-opted by the military after Pearl Harbor, it was a fixture at the Nuremberg trials and in the jungles of Vietnam. It became an advertising staple, a cliché in Hollywood and journalism, and an inspiration to everyone from Andy Warhol to Jay Z. The test was also given to millions of defendants, job applicants, parents in custody battles, and people suffering from mental illness or simply trying to understand themselves better. And it is still used today.

In this first-ever biography of Rorschach, Damion Searls draws on unpublished letters and diaries and a cache of previously unknown interviews with Rorschach’s family, friends, and colleagues to tell the unlikely story of the test’s creation, its controversial reinvention, and its remarkable endurance—and what it all reveals about the power of perception. Elegant and original, The Inkblots shines a light on the twentieth century’s most visionary synthesis of art and science.

For more information, click here.

For a recent NPR interview with the author, click here.

Book announcement – Law and the Modern Mind Consciousness and Responsibility in American Legal Culture

9780674048935-lgSusanna L. Blumenthal, Professor of Law and Associate Professor of History at the University of Minnesota, has published a book on “the jurisprudence of insanity” across the long nineteenth century in the United States. The blurb reads:

In postrevolutionary America, the autonomous individual was both the linchpin of a young nation and a threat to the founders’ vision of ordered liberty. Conceiving of self-government as a psychological as well as a political project, jurists built a republic of laws upon the Enlightenment science of the mind with the aim of producing a responsible citizenry. Susanna Blumenthal probes the assumptions and consequences of this undertaking, revealing how ideas about consciousness, agency, and accountability have shaped American jurisprudence.

Focusing on everyday adjudication, Blumenthal shows that mental soundness was routinely disputed in civil as well as criminal cases. Litigants presented conflicting religious, philosophical, and medical understandings of the self, intensifying fears of a populace maddened by too much liberty. Judges struggled to reconcile common sense notions of rationality with novel scientific concepts that suggested deviant behavior might result from disease rather than conscious choice. Determining the threshold of competence was especially vexing in litigation among family members that raised profound questions about the interconnections between love and consent. This body of law coalesced into a jurisprudence of insanity, which also illuminates the position of those to whom the insane were compared, particularly children, married women, and slaves. Over time, the liberties of the eccentric expanded as jurists came to recognize the diversity of beliefs held by otherwise reasonable persons.

In calling attention to the problematic relationship between consciousness and liability, Law and the Modern Mind casts new light on the meanings of freedom in the formative era of American law.

To get more information, click here.

Book announcement – Freud by Elisabeth Roudinesco

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The French Freud biography by Elisabeth Roudinesco has now be translated and published by Harvard University Press. The blurb reads

Élisabeth Roudinesco offers a bold and modern reinterpretation of the iconic founder of psychoanalysis. Based on new archival sources, this is Freud’s biography for the twenty-first century—a critical appraisal, at once sympathetic and impartial, of a genius greatly admired and yet greatly misunderstood in his own time and in ours.

Roudinesco traces Freud’s life from his upbringing as the eldest of eight siblings in a prosperous Jewish-Austrian household to his final days in London, a refugee of the Nazis’ annexation of his homeland. She recreates the milieu of fin de siècle Vienna in the waning days of the Habsburg Empire—an era of extraordinary artistic innovation, given luster by such luminaries as Gustav Klimt, Stefan Zweig, and Gustav Mahler. In the midst of it all, at the modest residence of Berggasse 19, Freud pursued his clinical investigation of nervous disorders, blazing a path into the unplumbed recesses of human consciousness and desire.

Yet this revolutionary who was overthrowing cherished notions of human rationality and sexuality was, in his politics and personal habits, in many ways conservative, Roudinesco shows. In his chauvinistic attitudes toward women, and in his stubborn refusal to acknowledge the growing threat of Hitler until it was nearly too late, even the analytically-minded Freud had his blind spots. Alert to his intellectual complexity—the numerous tensions in his character and thought that remained unresolved—Roudinesco ultimately views Freud less as a scientific thinker than as the master interpreter of civilization and culture.

For more information, click here.

Book announcement – Therapeutic Revolutions Pharmaceuticals and Social Change in the Twentieth Century

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Even if the book edited by Jeremy A. Greene, Flurin Condrau, and Elizabeth Siegel Watkins is not limited to the history of psychiatry – far from that – the volume certainly is of interest for the readers of h-madness and not only due to the article by Nicolas Henckes entitled “Magic Bullet in the head? Psychiatric revolutions and their aftermath”. The blurb reads:

When asked to compare the practice of medicine today to that of a hundred years ago, most people will respond with a story of therapeutic revolution: Back then we had few effective remedies, but now we have more (and more powerful) tools to fight disease, from antibiotics to psychotropics to steroids to anticancer agents.

This collection challenges the historical accuracy of this revolutionary narrative and offers instead a more nuanced account of the process of therapeutic innovation and the relationships between the development of medicines and social change. These assembled histories and ethnographies span three continents and use the lived experiences of physicians and patients, consumers and providers, and marketers and regulators to reveal the tensions between universal claims of therapeutic knowledge and the actual ways these claims have been used and understood in specific sites, from postwar West Germany pharmacies to twenty-first century Nigerian street markets. By asking us to rethink a story we thought we knew, Therapeutic Revolutions offers invaluable insights to historians, anthropologists, and social scientists of medicine.

For more information, click here.

Book announcement – Deinstitutionalisation and After Post-War: Psychiatry in the Western World

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Despo Kritsotaki, Vicky Long and Matthew Smith have finally published the long-awaited – at least by the author of this post – results of their conference organised in 2013 on “Deinstitutionalisation and After: Post-War Psychiatry in Global Perspective”. The blurb reads:

The book relates the history of post-war psychiatry, focusing on deinstitutionalisation, namely the shift from asylum to community in the second part of the twentieth century.
After the Second World War, psychiatry and mental health care were reshaped by deinstitutionalisation. But what exactly was involved in this process? What were the origins of deinstitutionalisation and what did it mean to those who experienced it? What were the ramifications, both positive and negative, of such a fundamental shift in psychiatric care? Post-War Psychiatry in the Western World: Deinstitutionalisation and After seeks to answer these questions by exploring this momentous change in mental health care from 1945 to the present in a wide range of geographical settings. The book articulates a nuanced account of the history of deinstitutionalisation, highlighting the constraints and inconsistencies inherent in treating the mentally ill outside of the asylum, while seeking to inform current debates about how to help the most vulnerable members of society.

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Book announcement – Electroconvulsive Therapy in America: The Anatomy of a Medical Controversy

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Jonathan Sadowsky, the Theodore J. Castele Professor of Medical History at Case Western Reserve University, has published a new book entitled “Electroconvulsive Therapy in America
The Anatomy of a Medical Controversy”. The cover blurb reads:

Electroconvulsive Therapy is widely demonized or idealized. Some detractors consider its very use to be a human rights violation, while some promoters depict it as a miracle, the “penicillin of psychiatry.” This book traces the American history of one of the most controversial procedures in medicine, and seeks to provide an explanation of why ECT has been so controversial, juxtaposing evidence from clinical science, personal memoir, and popular culture. Contextualizing the controversies about ECT, instead of simply engaging in them, makes the history of ECT more richly revealing of wider changes in culture and medicine. It shows that the application of electricity to the brain to treat illness is not only a physiological event, but also one embedded in culturally patterned beliefs about the human body, the meaning of sickness, and medical authority.

For more information, click here.

Book announcement – Hearing Voices: The History of Psychiatry in Ireland

 

 

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Hearing Voices: The History of Psychiatry in Ireland is a monumental work by one of Ireland’s leading psychiatrists, encompassing every psychiatric development from the Middle Ages to the present day, and examining the far-reaching social and political effects of Ireland’s troubled relationship with mental illness.

From the “Glen of Lunatics”, said to cure the mentally ill, to the overcrowded asylums of later centuries – with more beds for the mentally ill than any other country in the world – Ireland has a complex, unsettled history in the practice of psychiatry. Kelly’s definitive work examines Ireland’s unique relationship with conceptions of mental ill health throughout the centuries, delving into each medical breakthrough and every misuse of authority – both political and domestic – for those deemed to be mentally ill.

Through fascinating archival records, Kelly writes a crisp and accessible history, evaluating everything from individual case histories to the seismic effects of the First World War, and exploring the attitudes that guided treatments, spanning Brehon Law to the emerging emphasis on human rights. Hearing Voices is a marvel that affords incredible insight into Ireland’s social and medical history while providing powerful observations on our current treatment of mental ill health in Ireland.

Table of Contents

  • Birth of Psychiatry in Ireland
  • The Nineteenth Century: Growth of the Asylums
  • Inside the Asylums
  • The Broader Context: Psychiatry and Society in the 1800s
  • Early Twentieth-Century Psychiatry
  • Reformation and Renewal in the 1900s
  • Decline of the Institution
  • The Twenty-First Century: New Policy, New Law
  • The Future of Psychiatry in Ireland

 

About the Author

Brendan Kelly is Professor of Psychiatry at Trinity College Dublin and Consultant Psychiatrist at Tallaght Hospital, Dublin. He is the author of ‘Ada English: Patriot and Psychiatrist’ (Irish Academic Press, 2014).

For more information, click here.

Found thanks to Historiens de la Santé.

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