Mad by the Millions: Mental Disorders and the Early Years of the World Health Organization

Mad by the Millions: Mental Disorders and the Early Years of the World Health Organization

by Harry Yi-Jui Wu
Mad by the Millions: Mental Disorders and the Early Years of the World Health Organization

Mad by the Millions: Mental Disorders and the Early Years of the World Health Organization

by Harry Yi-Jui Wu


    Qualifies for Free Shipping
    Usually ships within 6 days
    Check Availability at Nearby Stores

Related collections and offers


The World Health Organization's post-World War II work on the epidemiology and classification of mental disorders and its vision of a "world psyche."

In 1946, the World Health Organization undertook a project in social psychiatry that aimed to discover the epidemiology and classification of mental disorders. In Mad by the Millions, Harry Y-Jui Wu examines the WHO's ambitious project, arguing that it was shaped by the postwar faith in technology and expertise and the universalizing vision of a "world psyche." Wu shows that the WHO's idealized scientific internationalism laid the foundations of today's highly highly metricalized global mental health system.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780262045384
Publisher: MIT Press
Publication date: 04/13/2021
Series: Culture and Psychiatry
Pages: 240
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.60(d)

About the Author

Harry Yi-Jui Wu is Associate Professor in the Cross College Elite Program and Department of Medical Humanities and Social Medicine at National Cheng-Kung University in Taiwan.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vii

1 Introduction: A Shared Vision 1

Once an Internationally Shared Vision 10

Problematizing the History of Global Health 13

An Overview of This Book 19

2 Structure 27

Lessons of War 30

Mental Health as Public Health 34

The WHO Model and Early Efforts in Mental Health 38

The 1948 International Congress on Mental Health 40

From "Collection of Hunches" to Practice of Collaboration 43

New Issues in Mental Health after World War II 45

The Manageable Project and Four-Man Meetings 50

From Impediment to Collaboration: Ethnographic Approaches 55

Birth of an International Team 59

3 Method 63

The Need for a Common Language 65

US National Institute of Mental Health 71

The WHO'S Scouts and Their International Trips 72

1961: WFMH and World Mental Health Year 75

Seeking Peripheral Input 76

Realization of the "Common Language" Project 81

Significance of the WHO'S International Social Psychiatry Project 87

4 Experts 91

Africa and Latin America 95

Taiwan: The Ideal Bedfellow 101

Incomplete Decolonization 103

Chinese as Scientific Other 107

Taiwan as an International Laboratory to Understand the "Chinese" 109

Dreamscape of Experts 110

Imagined Equal Footing 111

5 Technology 115

Building Internationalism 116

Classification as Standardization 117

Information Technology 119

Standardizing Diagnostic Tools 121

Translation, Language, and Misunderstandings: Problems with the PSE 124

A Managerial Leader 126

The Promises of Technology 128

Videotaping 128

Data Management Technology 132

Computing Software 135

Bewilderment about Technology 136

Fallacies of Neutrality 137

6 Discontent 141

Internally Contested Methods 142

Beyond Category Fallacies 146

Psychiatry in the Two Chinas 149

Original Equipment Manufacturing for World Standards 152

A Culture-Bound ICD 155

Mobile Experts across the Globe 158

Still One World, Many Cultures? 160

Epilogue: Return to the Matrix 163

Origins of the Gaps 165

The Undetermined Future of Mental Health Standards 167

Hearing Echoes from the Past 172

Archives 175

Notes 177

Index 219

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

“Harry Yi-Jui Wu has produced the first genuinely transnational history of psychiatry.”
Matthew Smith, Professor of Health History, Centre for the Social History of Health and Healthcare, University of Strathclyde
“In this tour de force, Harry Yi-Jui Wu examines how a group of ambitious professionals, motivated by utopian commitments to equality and world citizenship, and brought together by the newly established World Health Organization, developed the first uniform classification system of mental disorders.”
Hans Pols, Professor, School of History and Philosophy of Science, University of Sydney; author of Nurturing Indonesia
“This thought-provoking book convincingly demonstrates that global attempts at creating a universal psychiatric language were tightly related to broader social efforts to redefine world citizenship after the Second World War. It provides a much-needed historical background for understanding present-day discussions about global mental health.”
Ana Antic, Professor, University of Copenhagen; author of Therapeutic Fascism

From the B&N Reads Blog

Customer Reviews