Mary De Young
Paperback: 376 pages
Publisher: McFarland (February, 2015)
The mentally ill have always been with us, but once confined in institutions their treatment has not always been of much interest or concern. This work makes a case for why it should be. Using published reports, studies, and personal narratives of doctors and patients, this book reveals how therapeutics have always been embedded in their particular social and historical moment, and how they have linked extant medical knowledge, practitioner skill and the expectations of patients who experienced their own disorders in different ways. Three centuries of asylum therapeutics are detailed in encyclopedic entries, including “awakening” patients with firecrackers, easing brain congestion by bleeding, extracting teeth and excising parts of the colon, dousing with water, raising or lowering body temperature, shocking with electricity or toxins, and penetrating the brain with ice picks.