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The Appliance of Science

The Appliance of Science

The Emergence of Psychiatry as a Medical Discipline

(p.26) 2 The Appliance of Science
Doctoring the Mind
Richard P. Bentall
NYU Press

This chapter discusses how doctors initially defended the physical treatments for psychotic patients, despite the controversy. They were encouraged by the idea that psychiatric disorders are diseases which can be easily distinguished from the ordinary miseries of life by means of the diagnostic framework developed by German psychiatrist Emil Kraepelin. At the time, the only widely recognized non-physical approach to mental illness was psychoanalysis. However, psychoanalysis seemed unlikely to benefit the kinds of patients living in asylums for two reasons. First, many psychoanalysts, including Freud, were skeptical about its value for patients with psychosis. Second, psychoanalysis was impossible to deliver on a mass scale because it required several meetings with a therapist. Of the treatments described in this chapter, only electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) survives as a controversial therapy for depression.

Keywords:   psychotic patients, physical treatments, psychiatric disorders, Emil Kraepelin, psychoanalysis, psychosis, asylums, electroconvulsive therapy

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