The Psychiatric Persuasion
Knowledge, Gender and Power in Modern America
In the years between 1900 and 1930, American psychiatrists transformed their profession from a marginal science focused primarily on the care of the mentally ill into a powerful discipline concerned with analyzing the common difficulties of everyday life. How did psychiatrists effect such a dramatic change in their profession's fortunes and aims? This study focuses on the revelatory ideas of gender that structured the new "psychiatry of the normal," a field that grew to take the whole world of human endeavour as its object. The author locates her study in early 20th-century Boston, providing a vivid picture not only of the Boston Psychopathic Hospital, upon whose patient records she has drawn extensively, but also of the increasingly urbanized society that shaped its goals and practices. As she tells a variety of stories about individual patients, psychiatrists and social workers, Lunbeck shows that early 20th-century Boston offered psychiatrists a vast reservoir of material with which to work. Psychiatrists made strenuous attempts to deal with the treatment of syphilis and with other newly urgent social issues, such as immigration, poverty, delinquency and drunkenness.
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What Reviewers Are Saying
"[With] the tools of a historian and the skills of a talented writer, [Lunbeck] . . . uses a social context to examine how psychiatrists viewed society and how society shaped the development of psychiatric thought. . . . Her book will be of interest to students and professionals in the field of mental health, as well as to historians, sociologists, and general readers interested in the early 20th century in America. . . . highly readable, informative, and even picturesque in its evocations."--"New England Journal of Medicine"