Category Archives: Books

Emotionally Disturbed: A History of Caring for America’s Troubled Children

AHP readers interested in the history of childhood and mental health will be interested in a new book from the University of Chicago Press. Deborah Blythe Doroshow’s Emotionally Disturbed: A History of Caring for America’s Troubled Children is described as follows:

Before the 1940s, children in the United States with severe emotional difficulties would have had few options for care. The first option was usually a child guidance clinic within the community, but they might also have been placed in a state mental hospital or asylum, an institution for the so-called feebleminded, or a training school for delinquent children. Starting in the 1930s, however, more specialized institutions began to open all over the country. Staff members at these residential treatment centers shared a commitment to helping children who could not be managed at home. They adopted an integrated approach to treatment, employing talk therapy, schooling, and other activities in the context of a therapeutic environment.

Emotionally Disturbed is the first work to examine not only the history of residential treatment but also the history of seriously mentally ill children in the United States. As residential treatment centers emerged as new spaces with a fresh therapeutic perspective, a new kind of person became visible—the emotionally disturbed child. Residential treatment centers and the people who worked there built physical and conceptual structures that identified a population of children who were alike in distinctive ways. Emotional disturbance became a diagnosis, a policy problem, and a statement about the troubled state of postwar society. But in the late twentieth century, Americans went from pouring private and public funds into the care of troubled children to abandoning them almost completely. Charting the decline of residential treatment centers in favor of domestic care–based models in the 1980s and 1990s, this history is a must-read for those wishing to understand how our current child mental health system came to be.

Break On Through: Radical Psychiatry and the American Counterculture

A new book available from MIT Press may interest AHP readers: Break On Through: Radical Psychiatry and the American Counterculture by Lucas Richert. The book is described as:

“Antipsychiatry,” Esalen, psychedelics, and DSM III: Radical challenges to psychiatry and the conventional treatment of mental health in the 1970s.

The upheavals of the 1960s gave way to a decade of disruptions in the 1970s, and among the rattled fixtures of American society was mainstream psychiatry. A “Radical Caucus” formed within the psychiatric profession and the “antipsychiatry” movement arose. Critics charged that the mental health establishment was complicit with the military-industrial complex, patients were released from mental institutions, and powerful antipsychotic drugs became available. Meanwhile, practitioners and patients experimented with new approaches to mental health, from primal screaming and the therapeutic use of psychedelics to a new reliance on quantification. In Break on Through, Lucas Richert investigates the radical challenges to psychiatry and to the conventional treatment of mental health that emerged in the 1970s and the lessons they offer for current debates.

Drawing on archives and government documents, medical journals, and interviews, and interweaving references to pop (counter)culture into his account, Richert offers fascinating stories of the decade’s radical mental health practices. He discusses anti–Vietnam War activism and the new diagnosis of post–traumatic stress disorder given to some veterans; the radical psychiatrists who fought the system (and each other); the entry of New Age–style therapies, including Esalen’s Human Potential Movement, into the laissez-faire therapeutic marketplace of the 1970s; the development of DSM III; and the use of LSD, cannabis, and MDMA.

Many of these issues have resonance today. Debates over medical marijuana and microdoses of psychedelics echo debates of the 1970s. With rising rates of such disorders as anxiety and depression, practitioners and patients continue to search for therapeutic breakthroughs.

Shock Therapy: Psychology, Precarity, and Well-Being in Postsocialist Russia

AHP readers may be interested in Tomas Matza’s recent book Shock Therapy: Psychology, Precarity, and Well-Being in Postsocialist Russia. Somatosphere is also featuring a book forum on Shock Therapy, with several featured commentaries.

Shock Therapy is described by the publishers as follows:

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia witnessed a dramatic increase in psychotherapeutic options, which promoted social connection while advancing new forms of capitalist subjectivity amid often-wrenching social and economic transformations. In Shock Therapy Tomas Matza provides an ethnography of post-Soviet Saint Petersburg, following psychotherapists, psychologists, and their clients as they navigate the challenges of post-Soviet life. Juxtaposing personal growth and success seminars for elites with crisis counseling and remedial interventions for those on public assistance, Matza shows how profound inequalities are emerging in contemporary Russia in increasingly intimate ways as matters of selfhood. Extending anthropologies of neoliberalism and care in new directions, Matza offers a profound meditation on the interplay between ethics, therapy, and biopolitics, as well as a sensitive portrait of everyday caring practices in the face of the confounding promise of postsocialist democracy.

Strange Trips: Science, Culture, and the Regulation of Drugs

Lucas Richert’s recently released Strange Trips: Science, Culture, and the Regulation of Drugs may be of interest to AHP readers. Richert’s book is described as follows:

Drugs take strange journeys from the black market to the doctor’s black bag. Changing marijuana laws in the United States and Canada, the opioid crisis, and the rising costs of pharmaceuticals have sharpened the public’s awareness of drugs and their regulation. Government, industry, and the medical profession, however, have a mixed record when it comes to framing policies and generating knowledge to address drug use and misuse.

In Strange Trips Lucas Richert investigates the myths, meanings, and boundaries of recreational drugs, palliative care drugs, and pharmaceuticals as well as struggles over product innovation, consumer protection, and freedom of choice in the medical marketplace. Scrutinizing how we have conceptualized and regulated drugs amid the pressing and competing interests of state regulatory bodies, pharmaceutical and for-profit companies, scientific researchers, and medical professionals, Richert asks how perceptions of a product shift – from dangerous substance to medical breakthrough, or vice versa. Through close examination of archival materials, accounts, and records, he brings substances into conversation with each other and demonstrates the contentious relationship between scientific knowledge, cultural assumptions, and social concerns.

Weaving together stories of consumer resistance and government control, Strange Trips offers timely recommendations for the future of drug regulation.

New Book: The Eclipse of the Utopias of Labor

AHP readers may be interested in Anson Rabinbach‘s new book The Eclipse of the Utopias of Labor. Rabinbach is the author of the now classic The Human Motor.His new book is described as follows:

The Eclipse of the Utopias of Labor traces the shift from the eighteenth-century concept of man as machine to the late twentieth-century notion of digital organisms. Step by step—from Jacques de Vaucanson and his Digesting Duck, through Karl Marx’s Capital, Hermann von Helmholtz’s social thermodynamics, Albert Speer’s Beauty of Labor program in Nazi Germany, and on to the post-Fordist workplace, Rabinbach shows how society, the body, and labor utopias dreamt up future societies and worked to bring them about.

This masterful follow-up to The Human Motor, Rabinbach’s brilliant study of the European science of work, bridges intellectual history, labor history, and the history of the body. It shows the intellectual and policy reasons as to how a utopia of the body as motor won wide acceptance and moved beyond the “man as machine” model before tracing its steep decline after 1945—and along with it the eclipse of the great hopes that a more efficient workplace could provide the basis of a new, more socially satisfactory society.

CONTENTS

ONE From Mimetic Machines to Digital Organisms: The Transformation of the Human Motor

TWO Social Energeticism in Fin-de-Siècle Europe

THREE Social Knowledge and the Politics of Industrial Accidents

FOUR Neurasthenia and Modernity

FIVE Psychotechnics and Politics in Weimar Germany: The Case of Otto Lipmann

SIX The Aesthetics of Production in the Third Reich

SEVEN Metaphors of the Machine in the Post-Fordist Era