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Mental Ills and Bodily Cures: Psychiatric Treatment in the First Half of the Twentieth Century

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Overview

Mental Ills and Bodily Cures depicts a time when psychiatric medicine went to lengths we now find extreme and perhaps even brutal ways to heal the mind by treating the body. From a treasure trove of California psychiatric hospital records, including many verbatim transcripts of patient interviews, Joel Braslow masterfully reconstructs the world of mental patients and their doctors in the first half of the twentieth century. Hydrotherapy, sterilization, electroshock, lobotomy, and clitoridectomy—these were among the drastic somatic treatments used in these hospitals.

By allowing the would-be healers and those in psychological and physical distress to speak for themselves, Braslow captures the intense and emotional interplay surrounding these therapies. His investigation combines revealing clinical detail with the immediacy of "being there" in the institutional setting while decisions are made, procedures undertaken, and results observed by all those involved. We learn how well-intentioned physicians could rationalize and regard as therapeutic treatments that often had dreadful consequences, and how much the social and cultural world is inscribed within the practice of biological psychiatry. The book will interest historians of medicine, practicing psychiatrists, and everyone who knows or has seen what it's like to be in mental distress.

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Editorial Reviews

Journal of the American Medical Association
I feel that the concerns expressed in Mental Ills and Bodily Cures are timely and appropriate. The evidence adduced about what happened in an earlier but not so distant time should serve as a warning that we may be both overselling the effectiveness of biologic treatments and failing to include the human roots and social interactions of severely ill patients in our attempts to improve their lives.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780520205475
  • Publisher: University of California Press
  • Publication date: 10/6/1997
  • Series: Medicine and Society Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.88 (d)

Meet the Author

Joel Braslow is Assistant Professor in the Departments of Psychiatry and History at the University of California, Los Angeles.

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Table of Contents

Figures
Tables
Acknowledgments
Introduction to the Psychiatric Body 1
1 Institutional Therapy: Context, Background, Structure 14
2 Discipline or Therapy: Patients, Doctors, and Somatic Remedies in the Early Twentieth Century 33
3 In the Name of Therapeutics: Sexual Sterilization as Psychic Cure 54
4 Neurosyphilis, Malaria, and a New Therapeutic Rationale 71
5 Where the Mind Ends and the Body Begins: The Practices of Electroconvulsive Therapy 95
6 Surgery as Discipline: Lobotomy at Stockton State Hospital 125
7 Discipline Gendered: Women and the Practice of Lobotomy 152
Conclusion 171
Notes 177
References 215
Index 233
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