Cover image for Mind fixers : psychiatry's troubled search for the biology of mental illness / Anne Harrington.
Title:
Mind fixers : psychiatry's troubled search for the biology of mental illness / Anne Harrington.
ISBN:
9780393071221
Edition:
First Edition.
Publication Information:
New York : W.W. Norton & Company, [2019]
Physical Description:
366 pages : illustrations ; 23 cm
Contents:
Doctors' stories -- Betting on anatomy -- Biology in disarray -- A fragile freudian triumph -- Crisis and revolt -- Disease stories -- Schizophrenia -- Depression -- Manic-depression -- Unfinished stories -- False dawn -- Afterthoughts -- Notes -- Guide to further reading -- Index.
Abstract:
In Mind Fixers, Anne Harrington, author of The Cure Within, explores psychiatry's repeatedly frustrated struggle to understand mental disorder in biomedical terms. 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.
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Summary

Summary

In Mind Fixers, Anne Harrington, author of The Cure Within, explores psychiatry's repeatedly frustrated struggle to understand mental disorder in biomedical terms. 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.


Author Notes

Anne Harrington is the Franklin L. Ford Professor of the History of Science and faculty dean of Pforzheimer House at Harvard University. She is the author of four books, including Mind Fixers and The Cure Within. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.


Reviews 1

Publisher's Weekly Review

Harrington (Reenchanted Science), a Harvard science history professor, lucidly and accessibly chronicles the search for mental illness's elusive causes. The book's three parts make up a "deep dive into our long effort to understand the biological basis of mental illness." Part one examines the historical figures in this effort, such as German psychiatrist Emil Kraepelin and Swiss neurologist Adolf Meyer; part two covers investigations into the possible biological basis of schizophrenia, depression, and bipolar disorder; and part three focuses on historic errors that led to the current stalemate between pharmaceutical proponents and supporters of nonmedical, nondrug practices. Along the way, Harrington delves into the drug industry's murkier corners, including how pharmaceutical executives in the 1990s tried to maximize the profitability of antipsychotics by marketing them to people without schizophrenia, and fascinatingly explores historic and mostly discarded treatments such as lobotomy, once touted as "soul surgery" by a credulous media. She concludes by offering a way forward for psychiatry, declaring that the field must "resist self-serving declarations of imminent breakthroughs and revolutions," "make a virtue of modesty," and share more of its power over patient treatment-such as to determine prescriptions-with nonmedical mental health professionals. Anyone interested in mental health care's history and future will appreciate this informative and rewarding survey. (Apr.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. ix
Introduction: Our Biological Enthusiasmsp. xi
Part I Doctors' Stories
Chapter 1 Betting on Anatomyp. 3
Chapter 2 Biology in Disarrayp. 32
Chapter 3 A Fragile Freudian Triumphp. 74
Chapter 4 Crisis and Revoltp. 107
Part II Disease Stories
Chapter 5 Schizophreniap. 139
Chapter 6 Depressionp. 183
Chapter 7 Manic-Depressionp. 217
Part III Unfinished Stories
Chapter 8 False Dawnp. 247
Afterthoughtsp. 271
Notesp. 277
Guide to Further Readingp. 335
Indexp. 345