By Richard Noll
2012 BMA clinical publication Award, hugely counseled in Psychiatry, British scientific Association
2012 Cheiron ebook Prize, Cheiron, foreign Society for the historical past of the Behavioral and Social Sciences
In 1895 there has been no longer a unmarried case of dementia praecox stated within the usa. via 1912 there have been tens of hundreds of thousands of individuals with this analysis locked up in asylums, hospitals, and jails. via 1927 it used to be fading away . How may perhaps this sort of bad affliction be came upon, impact such a lot of lives, after which turn into 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 finally explain--though they can now not cure--the depressing sufferers surrounding them. the tale of dementia praecox, and its eventual alternative via the recent suggestion of schizophrenia, additionally finds how asylum physicians fought for his or her personal respectability. If what they have been gazing used to be a illness, then this organic truth used to be amenable to medical examine. within the early 20th century, dementia praecox was once psychiatry's key into an more and more science-focused scientific profession.
But for the instant, not anything might be performed to aid the victims. whilst the idea that of schizophrenia provided a clean realizing of this affliction, and desire for a remedy, psychiatry deserted the outdated sickness for the hot. during this dramatic tale of a vanished analysis, Noll exhibits the co-dependency among a ailment and the medical prestige of the career that treats it. The ghost of dementia praecox haunts modern day debates concerning the newest iteration of psychiatric issues
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Extra info for American madness : the rise and fall of dementia praecox
Noting that “the practice of arrest etc. is common in most of our states,” he described the typical course of events: “Very often the sick patient is locked in jail for one day to several 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.
More than a few deliberately poisoned themselves. Many of the insane bore scars or fresh scratches or lacerations, particularly about the head, hands, and arms. Some slumped stuporously along the walls, saliva sliding over parted lips, eyelids only half-concealing the abyss of confusion. What in god’s name was wrong with these people? How could one possibly make sense out of this riot of new sensations and impressions? In time the inexperienced alienist would learn to do what generations of others had done: focus only on the familiar and immediate medical issues, keep the saner patients busy and the others drugged, and learn half a dozen diagnostic terms, each of which could be matched to a name in the records.
16 A less reverent interpretation might be that Meyer ADOLF ME YER BRINGS DEMENTIA PRAECOX TO AMERICA 41 hit upon a way to persuade others that his monomania for recording “facts” was a way for asylum alienists to demonstrate to the rest of the medical profession that they were “doing something” for the patients. But there is no doubt that Meyer’s personal obsession eventually changed the perception of the professional status of asylum physicians. The relentless recording of the facts of a patient’s life, statements, and behavior was a way to demonstrate that mental institutions “cared” for their patients by not neglecting them.
American madness : the rise and fall of dementia praecox by Richard Noll