Tag Archives: melancholia

New Issue: History of Psychiatry

The March 2013 issue of the History of Psychiatry is now online. Included in this issue are a number of articles ranging from morbidity and mortality caused from melancholia, to a revisiting of the mental hygiene movement, and even to William James’ psychical research. Full titles, authors, and abstracts follow below.

“The morbidity and mortality linked to melancholia: two cohorts compared, 1875–1924 and 1995–2005,” by Margaret Harris, Fiona Farquhar, David Healy, Joanna C Le Noury, Stefanie C Linden, J Andrew Hughes, and Anthony P Roberts. The abstract reads:

For over a century, melancholia has been linked to increased rates of morbidity and mortality. Data from two epidemiologically complete cohorts of patients presenting to mental health services in North Wales (1874–1924 and 1995–2005) have been used to look at links between diagnoses of melancholia in the first period and severe hospitalized depressive disorders today and other illnesses, and to calculate mortality rates. This is a study of the hospitalized illness rather than the natural illness, and the relationship between illness and hospitalization remains poorly understood. These data confirm that melancholia is associated with a substantial increase in the standardized mortality rate both formerly and today, stemming from a higher rate of deaths from tuberculosis in the historical sample and from suicide in the contemporary sample. The data do not link melancholia to cancer or cardiac disease. The comparison between outcomes for melancholia historically and severe mood disorder today argue favourably for the effectiveness of asylum care.

Continue reading New Issue: History of Psychiatry

Twentieth Century American Psychiatry in BoHM

The winter issue of the Bulletin of the History of Medicine has just been released online. Included in this issue are two articles on the history of psychiatry in the twentieth century United States.

The first of these articles, by Laura D. Hirshbein, assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Michigan, investigates the diagnostic category of involutional melancholia. Ascribed to post-menopausal women with depressive symptoms and particular personality traits, this diagnosis was incorporated into the more general diagnosis of major depressive disorder in the latter half of the twentieth century. The social and medical circumstances surrounding involutional melancholia’s emergence and eventual disappearance are charted in Hirshbein’s article.

In the second of these articles, Dennis Doyle, of Mississippi State University, documents the existence of a Harlem psychiatric facility in the late 1940s and 1950s. The article looks at the Lafargue Clinic, named after the french Marxist Paul Lafargue (pictured at right), and documents the diagnostic decisions undertaken at this interracial clinic. Continue reading Twentieth Century American Psychiatry in BoHM