Written by one of the world’s most distinguished historians of psychiatry, Psychiatry and Its Discontents provides a wide-ranging and critical perspective on the profession that dominates the treatment of mental illness. Andrew Scull traces the rise of the field, the midcentury hegemony of psychoanalytic methods, and the paradigm’s decline with the ascendance of biological and pharmaceutical approaches to mental illness. The book’s historical sweep is broad, ranging from the age of the asylum to the rise of psychopharmacology and the dubious triumphs of “community care.” The essays in Psychiatry and Its Discontents provide a vivid and compelling portrait of the recurring crises of legitimacy experienced by “mad-doctors,” as psychiatrists were once called, and illustrates the impact of psychiatry’s ideas and interventions on the lives of those afflicted with mental illness.
About the Author
Andrew Scull is Distinguished Research Professor of Sociology and Science Studies at the University of California, San Diego. He is past president of the Society for the Social History of Medicine and the author of numerous books, including Madness in Civilization, Hysteria, and others.
"From the Victorian asylum era and the rise and fall of psychoanalysis to the arrival of psychopharmacology and neuroscience, Scull chronicles the medicalization of mental illness with balance and scepticism. He is trenchant on psychiatry’s failures, from prefrontal lobotomy to ‘care in the community’; critical of neuro-reductionism; eloquent on diagnosis debates; and ever aware of the human suffering at his chronicle’s core.”
“As a collection of previously published material gathered from diverse sources, this book suffers from a certain amount of repetition; however the author has done a service in bringing it together, the writing is lively, the scandals attached to its principal actors are dutifully weighed and the scholarship is impressive.”
— Times Literary Supplement