The wish to understand mental suffering is universal and requires an appreciation for its history. Since Biblical times, humans have understood ‘madness,’ or other deviations from normal mental functioning, in diverse and unique ways. These have included belief in divine origins, biological causation, and environmental influences. And treatments for mental illness have undergone a similar evolution. In his book Madness in Civilization: A Cultural History of Insanity (Princeton University Press, 2015), Andrew Scull offers an important and timely examination of this complicated history. And in our interview, he talks about what motivated him to take on such an ambitious and important project and his hopes for the future of psychiatry and psychology.
Andrew Scull is Distinguished Professor of Sociology and Science Studies at the University of California, San Diego. His prior books include Masters of Bedlam: The Transformation of the Mad-Doctoring Trade (2016); Madhouses, Mad-Doctors, and Madmen: The Social History of Psychiatry in the Victorian Era (2015); and The Insanity of Place / The Place of Insanity: Essays on the History of Psychiatry (2015).
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