BOOK REVIEW A History of Psychiatry: From the Era of the Asylum to the Age of Prozac. By Edward Shorter. New York: John Wiley, 1997, x + 436 pp., $19.95 (paper). History professor Edward Shorter wrote this detailed, elegant and valuable social history of psychiatry to refute the "zealot-re- searchers [who] have seized the history of psychiatry to illustrate their pet bugaboos"—"sectarians who have made the subject a sandbox for their ideologies" (p. viii). He "confronts head-on" the "revisionism" of "the activists of the 1960's" who "now dominate the academic history of psychiatry" and who, by denying that mental disorder exists as a natural phenomenon, "have converted protest into illness [which allegedly] locks into asylums those who otherwise would be challenging the established order" (p. ix). Maintaining that these "trendy notions ... do not correspond to what actually happened," Shorter (p. 5) explicitly criticizes Michel Foucault's "nonsense" (1, p. 41) that there was "any kind of'grand confinement'" in early 19th century England and implicitly ques- tions the Freud-worship which distorts the historical efforts of Gregory Zilboorg (2) and Franz Alexander (3). After warning (p. ix) that "the history of psychiatry is a mine- field" in which "both the revisionists
Psychiatric Quarterly – Springer Journals
Published: Sep 30, 2004
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