By Richard Noll
2012 BMA scientific publication Award, hugely recommended in Psychiatry, British clinical Association
2012 Cheiron e-book Prize, Cheiron, overseas Society for the historical past of the Behavioral and Social Sciences
In 1895 there has been now not a unmarried case of dementia praecox suggested within the usa. through 1912 there have been tens of millions of individuals with this prognosis locked up in asylums, hospitals, and jails. by way of 1927 it used to be fading away . How may well the sort of negative disorder be came across, impact such a lot of lives, after which grow to be anything else?
In brilliant element, Richard Noll describes how the invention of this mysterious sickness gave desire to the overworked asylum medical professionals that they can ultimately explain--though they can now not cure--the depressing sufferers surrounding them. the tale of dementia praecox, and its eventual alternative by means of the recent notion of schizophrenia, additionally unearths how asylum physicians fought for his or her personal respectability. If what they have been watching was once a disorder, then this organic truth was once amenable to medical learn. within the early 20th century, dementia praecox was once psychiatry's key into an more and more science-focused clinical profession.
But for the instant, not anything will be performed to assist the victims. whilst the idea that of schizophrenia provided a clean knowing of this ailment, and wish for a therapy, psychiatry deserted the outdated sickness for the hot. during this dramatic tale of a vanished prognosis, Noll indicates the co-dependency among a ailment and the medical prestige of the career that treats it. The ghost of dementia praecox haunts ultra-modern debates in regards to the most modern iteration of psychiatric problems
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Extra resources for American madness : the rise and fall of dementia praecox
But even at a young age Meyer did not suffer fools gladly, and he expressed his rage or disdain coldly rather than heatedly. His occasional lack of tact and his ever-present undertone of arrogance extended to his writings. His intellectual gifts allowed him to seize upon the weakness of any theory or method, but his manner of expressing such insights could sometimes be quite harsh. “You know, Dr. 14 After a few weeks in New York Meyer found his way to Chicago. He applied for an Illinois medical license and, after paying the fee, got it within two weeks.
The State of California, teeming with immigrants and transients searching for a better life, had the worst reputation for such railroading. State officials vigorously arrested vagrants, drunkards, eccentrics, paupers, and other undesirables and dispatched them “with railroad speed” through the jails and courts to state asylums. 34 Streets, jails, and almshouses were T H E W O R L D O F T H E A M E R I C A N A L I E N I S T, 1 8 9 6 29 purged of such inconvenient individuals. In truth, however, across the United States the process of railroading was most often initiated by family members, and government officials were usually quite responsive to their wishes.
Even when an individual patient’s entire medical record in an asylum could be pieced together page by page, case book by case book, there was really very little detailed information to indicate the range of signs and symptoms, or if the diagnosis was correct or not, or if the treatments really worked, or if indeed the patient was really insane at all. Historians today who undertake such projects in state archives are continually confronted with how unenlightening these case book records are when it comes to fathoming the true picture of an individual patient from that era.