The Normal and the Pathological

Georges Canguilhem - 1966
    It takes as its starting point the sudden appearance of biology as a science in the nineteenth century and examines the conditions determining its particular makeup.Canguilhem analyzes the radically new way in which health and disease were defined in the early nineteenth century, showing that the emerging categories of the normal and the pathological were far from objective scientific concepts. He demonstrates how the epistemological foundations of modern biology and medicine were intertwined with political, economic, and technological imperatives.Canguilhem was an important influence on the thought of Michel Foucault and Louis Althusser, among others, in particular for the way in which he poses the problem of how new domains of knowledge come into being and how they are part of a discontinuous history of human thought.

Mind Fixers: Psychiatry's Troubled Search for the Biology of Mental Illness

Anne Harrington - 2019
    She shows how the stalling of early twentieth century efforts in this direction allowed Freudians and social scientists to insist, with some justification, that they had better ways of analyzing and fixing minds.But when the Freudians overreached, they drove psychiatry into a state of crisis that a new “biological revolution” was meant to alleviate. Harrington shows how little that biological revolution had to do with breakthroughs in science, and why the field has fallen into a state of crisis in our own time.Mind Fixers makes clear that psychiatry’s waxing and waning biological enthusiasms have been shaped not just by developments in the clinic and lab, but also by a surprising range of social factors, including immigration, warfare, grassroots activism, and assumptions about race and gender. Government programs designed to empty the state mental hospitals, acrid rivalries between different factions in the field, industry profit mongering, consumerism, and an uncritical media have all contributed to the story as well.In focusing particularly on the search for the biological roots of schizophrenia, depression, and bipolar disorder, Harrington underscores the high human stakes for the millions of people who have sought medical answers for their mental suffering. This is not just a story about doctors and scientists, but about countless ordinary people and their loved ones.A clear-eyed, evenhanded, and yet passionate tour de force, Mind Fixers recounts the past and present struggle to make mental illness a biological problem in order to lay the groundwork for creating a better future, both for those who suffer and for those whose job it is to care for them.

Madness: A Brief History

Roy Porter - 2002
    Roy Porter's historical overview of madness reveals the radically different perceptions of madness and approaches to its treatment, from antiquity to the beginning of the 21st century.Looking back on his confinement to Bethlem, Restoration playwright Nathaniel Lee declared: "They called me mad, and I called them mad, and damn them, they outvoted me." As Roy Porter shows in Madness: A Brief History, thinking about who qualifies as insane, what causes mental illness, and how such illness should be treated has varied wildly throughout recorded history, sometimes veering dangerously close to the arbitrariness Lee describes and often encompassing cures considerably worse than the illness itself.Drawing upon eyewitness accounts of doctors, writers, artists, and the mad themselves, Roy Porter tells the story of our changing notions of insanity and of the treatments for mental illness that have been employed from antiquity to the present day. Beginning with 5,000-year-old skulls with tiny holes bored in them (to allow demons to escape), through conceptions of madness as an acute phase in the trial of souls, as an imbalance of "the humors," as the "divine fury" of creative genius, or as the malfunctioning of brain chemistry, Porter shows the many ways madness has been perceived and misperceived in every historical period. He takes us on a fascinating round of treatments, ranging from exorcism and therapeutic terror--including immersion in a tub of eels--to the first asylums, shock therapy, the birth of psychoanalysis, and the current use of psychotropic drugs.Throughout, Madness: A Brief History offers a balanced view, showing both the humane attempts to help the insane as well as the ridiculous and often cruel misunderstanding that have bedeviled our efforts to heal the mind of its myriad afflictions.

The Expressiveness of the Body and the Divergence of Greek and Chinese Medicine

Shigehisa Kuriyama - 1999
    But when we look into the past, our sense of reality wavers: accounts of the body in diverse medical traditions often seem to describe mutually alien, almost unrelated worlds. How can perceptions of something as basic and intimate as the body differ so? In this book, Shigehisa Kuriyama explores this fundamental question, elucidating the fascinating contrasts between the human body described in classical Greek medicine and the body as envisaged by physicians in ancient China. Revealing how perceptions of the body and conceptions of personhood are intimately linked, his comparative inquiry invites us, indeed compels us, to reassess our own habits of feeling and perceiving.The Expressiveness of the Body was awarded the 2001 Welch Medal by the American Association for the History of Medicine.

The Pasteurization of France

Bruno Latour - 1984
    It is the operation of these forces, in combination with the talent of Pasteur, that Bruno Latour sets before us as a prime example of science in action.Latour argues that the triumph of the biologist and his methodology must be understood within the particular historical convergence of competing social forces and conflicting interests. Yet Pasteur was not the only scientist working on the relationships of microbes and disease. How was he able to galvanize the other forces to support his own research? Latour shows Pasteur’s efforts to win over the French public—the farmers, industrialists, politicians, and much of the scientific establishment.Instead of reducing science to a given social environment, Latour tries to show the simultaneous building of a society and its scientific facts. The first section of the book, which retells the story of Pasteur, is a vivid description of an approach to science whose theoretical implications go far beyond a particular case study. In the second part of the book, “Irreductions,” Latour sets out his notion of the dynamics of conflict and interaction, of the “relation of forces.” Latour’s method of analysis cuts across and through the boundaries of the established disciplines of sociology, history, and the philosophy of science, to reveal how it is possible not to make the distinction between reason and force. Instead of leading to sociological reductionism, this method leads to an unexpected irreductionism.

Sanity, Madness and the Family: Families of Schizophrenics

R.D. Laing - 1964
    Intrigued, Laing engaged another Glaswegian, Dr. Aaron Esterson, in an intensive phenomenological study of more than 100 families of diagnosed schizophrenics in the London area. In 1962, Laing travelled to meet Bateson and his co-workers in Palo Alto (and elsewhere across the U.S.A.) In 1964, Laing and Esterson published the results of their study in a brilliant and deeply disturbing book, Sanity, Madness & The Family, which John Bowlby described as the most important book about families in the 20th century.

The Psychopath: Emotion and the Brain

James Blair - 2005
    This timely and controversial new book summarises what we already know about psychopathy and antisocial behavior and puts forward a new case for its cause - with far-reaching implications. Presents the scientific facts of psychopathy and antisocial behavior. Addresses key questions, such as: What is psychopathy? Are there psychopaths amongst us? What is wrong with psychopaths? Is psychopathy due to nature or nurture? And can we treat psychopaths? Reveals the authors' ground-breaking research into whether an underlying abnormality in brain development leaves psychopaths with an inability to feel emotion or fear. The resulting theory could lead to early diagnosis and revolutionize the way society, the media and the state both views and contends with the psychopaths in our midst.

The Book of Woe: The DSM and the Unmaking of Psychiatry

Gary Greenberg - 2013
    An exposé of the psychiatric profession’s bible from a leading psychotherapist, The Book of Woe reveals the deeply flawed process by which mental disorders are invented and uninvented—and why increasing numbers of therapy patients are being declared mentally ill.

Freud: A Very Short Introduction

Anthony Storr - 1989
    Only now, with the hindsight of the half-century since his death, can we assess his true legacy to current thought. As an experienced psychiatrist himself, Anthony Storr offers a lucid and objective look at Freud's major theories, evaluating whether they have stood the test of time, and in the process examines Freud himself in light of his own ideas. An excellent introduction to Freud's work, this book will appeal to all those broadly curious about psychoanalysis, psychology, and sociology. About the Series: Combining authority with wit, accessibility, and style, Very Short Introductions offer an introduction to some of life's most interesting topics. Written by experts for the newcomer, they demonstrate the finest contemporary thinking about the central problems and issues in hundreds of key topics, from philosophy to Freud, quantum theory to Islam.

The Manufacture of Madness

Thomas Szasz - 1970
    Szasz examines the similarities between the Inquisition and institutional psychiatry. His purpose is to show "that the belief in mental illness and the social actions to which it leads have the same moral implications and political consequences as had the belief in witchcraft and the social actions to which it led."

The Depths: The Evolutionary Origins of the Depression Epidemic

Jonathan Rottenberg - 2012
    Such a simple defect should be fixable, yet despite all of the resources that have been devoted to finding a pharmacological solution, depression remains stubbornly widespread. Why are we losing this fight?In this humane and illuminating challenge to defect models of depression, psychologist Jonathan Rottenberg argues that depression is a particularly severe outgrowth of our natural capacity for emotion. In other words, it is a low mood gone haywire. Drawing on recent developments in the science of mood—and his own harrowing depressive experience as a young adult—Rottenberg explains depression in evolutionary terms, showing how its dark pull arises from adaptations that evolved to help our ancestors ensure their survival. Moods, high and low, evolved to compel us to more efficiently pursue rewards. While this worked for our ancestors, our modern environment—in which daily survival is no longer a sole focus—makes it all too easy for low mood to slide into severe, long-lasting depression.Weaving together experimental and epidemiological research, clinical observations, and the voices of individuals who have struggled with depression, The Depths offers a bold new account of why depression endures—and makes a strong case for de-stigmatizing this increasingly common condition. In so doing, Rottenberg offers hope in the form of his own and other patients’ recovery, and points the way towards new paths for treatment.

Shrinks: The Untold Story of Psychiatry

Jeffrey A. Lieberman - 2015
    Psychiatry has come a long way since the days of chaining "lunatics" in cold cells and parading them as freakish marvels before a gaping public. But, as Jeffrey Lieberman, MD, reveals in his extraordinary and eye-opening book, the path to legitimacy for "the black sheep of medicine" has been anything but smooth. In Shrinks, Dr. Lieberman traces the field from its birth as a mystic pseudo-science through its adolescence as a cult of "shrinks" to its late blooming maturity -- beginning after World War II -- as a science-driven profession that saves lives. With fascinating case studies and portraits of the luminaries of the field - from Sigmund Freud to Eric Kandel -- Shrinks is a gripping and illuminating read, and an urgent call-to- arms to dispel the stigma of mental illnesses by treating them as diseases rather than unfortunate states of mind.

Madhouse: A Tragic Tale of Megalomania and Modern Medicine

Andrew Scull - 2005
    It shows how a leading American psychiatrist of the early twentieth century came to believe that mental illnesses were the product of chronic infections that poisoned the brain. Convinced that he had uncovered the single source of psychosis, Henry Cotton, superintendent of the Trenton State Hospital, New Jersey, launched a ruthless campaign to “eliminate the perils of pus infection.” Teeth were pulled, tonsils excised, and stomachs, spleens, colons, and uteruses were all sacrificed in the assault on “focal sepsis.”Many patients did not survive Cotton’s surgeries; thousands more were left mangled and maimed. Cotton’s work was controversial, yet none of his colleagues questioned his experimental practices. Subsequent historians and psychiatrists too have ignored the events that cast doubt on their favorite narratives of scientific and humanitarian progress.In a remarkable feat of historical detective work, Andrew Scull exposes the full, frightening story of madness among the mad-doctors. Drawing on a wealth of documents and interviews, he reconstructs in vivid detail a nightmarish, cautionary chapter in modern psychiatry when professionals failed to police themselves.

Madness Explained: Psychosis and Human Nature

Richard P. Bentall - 2003
    This groundbreaking work argues that we cannot define madness as an illness to be cured like any other; that labels such as 'schizophrenia' and 'manic depression' are meaningless, based on nineteenth-century classifications; and that experiences such as delusions and hearing voices are in fact exaggerations of the mental foibles to which we are all vulnerable.We need, Bentall argues, a radically new way of thinking about psychiatric problems - one that does not reduce madness to bain chemistry, but understands and accepts it as part of human nature.'Bentall destroys many of the foundations underlying psychiatric thinking' - Oliver James'A monumental study ... brave, well-researched and accessible' - Scotland on Sunday'Bental demystifies psychosis and restores the patient to a proper place with the rest of humankind' - Aaron T. Beck

Saving Normal: An Insider's Revolt Against Out-Of-Control Psychiatric Diagnosis, DSM-5, Big Pharma, and the Medicalization of Ordinary Life

Allen Frances - 2013
    The DSM is the bible of psychiatry; the go-to place to find out who is sick and who is not. Because it will radically stretch the boundaries of what is and what is not a psychiatric illness, DSM 5 will dramatically change how lives are lived. Under DSM 5's new definitions, millions of people now considered normal will be diagnosed as mentally ill, causing unnecessary, costly, and sometimes dangerous treatments for misidentified 'patients' who don't really need them.Will the DSM 5 destroy what is considered normal?Frances argues that DSM 5 offers a radical and reckless set of proposals that will overnight turn 'normal' people into 'mental patients'. Everyday aches, pains, disappointments, stresses, and existential sufferings are being reframed as mental illnesses with such exuberance that it is getting hard for anyone to get through life without a psychiatric diagnosis. Is grief a useful, inevitable and poignant sign of a broken heart or is it Major Depressive Disorder? Are temper tantrums a normal part of childhood or a sign of mental illness? Are you nervous about an upcoming presentation or job interview or do you have Mixed Anxiety Depression? If you don't remember a face or a fact once in a while, do you have Dementia?Frances maintains we all have psychiatric symptoms from time to time, but this doesn't mean we are all flirting with mental illness. Whenever we arbitrarily add a new 'disease', we subtract from what previously was 'normal' and lose something of ourselves in the process. Not all human suffering can or should be labeled and treated away. The grief and sorrows, the stresses, the disappointments, the aches and pains, the slings and arrows, the innate and acquired inequalities, the set-backs, the stumbles, the emotional gut-shots; this is part of life and of living in a complex and not always fair society- they should not all to be explained away as psychiatric disease.