American Madness: The Rise and Fall of Dementia Praecox by Richard Noll

By Richard Noll

In 1895 there has been no longer a unmarried case of dementia praecox stated within the usa. via 1912 there have been tens of millions of individuals with this prognosis locked up in asylums, hospitals, and jails. through 1927 it was once fading away . How may possibly the sort of bad ailment be chanced on, impact such a lot of lives, after which grow to be whatever else?In bright aspect, Richard Noll describes how the invention of this mysterious affliction gave wish to the overworked asylum medical professionals that they can ultimately explain—though they can no longer cure—the depressing sufferers surrounding them. the tale of dementia praecox, and its eventual substitute by means of the hot idea of schizophrenia, additionally finds how asylum physicians fought for his or her personal respectability. If what they have been staring at was once a ailment, then this organic fact used to be amenable to medical examine. within the early 20th century, dementia praecox was once psychiatry’s key into an more and more science-focused clinical profession.But for the instant, not anything will be performed to aid the victims. whilst the idea that of schizophrenia provided a clean realizing of this ailment, and desire for a therapy, psychiatry deserted the previous illness for the hot. during this dramatic tale of a vanished analysis, Noll exhibits the co-dependency among a affliction and the clinical prestige of the career that treats it. The ghost of dementia praecox haunts today’s debates in regards to the most up-to-date iteration of psychiatric issues. (20111027)

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The attendants were responsible for maintaining the cleanliness of the physical environment 34 T H E W O R L D O F T H E A M E R I C A N A L I E N I S T, 1 8 9 6 of their wards as well as the bodies of their patients. However, sanitary conditions varied from ward to ward and institution to institution. Ammonia was used for cleaning clothes as well as floors, but some attendants who did not believe in germs or extra effort simply had the patients sweep the wards with a broom. Unless they soiled themselves— and each asylum had its own reviled infestation of what were called the “fi lthy insane”—patients were usually bathed only once a week (if that) in most asylums.

Paine combined the information from the medical schools and the alienists in his final tabulations. Most medical colleges did not reply to the circular (only 61 of 144 responded, including 8 of the 16 homeopathic medical colleges in existence at the time), and he therefore assumed psychiatry was not taught at those schools. However, almost all of the superintendants did reply. ” Only eight said psychiatry had been taught at their institution back in 1871 (one of Paine’s auxiliary questions). Superintendants of hospitals for the insane were the teachers in 34 of the 61 colleges, and assistant physicians of these hospitals were the lecturers at two others.

Despite the security of a steady paycheck (as opposed to the insecurity of private practice), doctoring the mad in an asylum was viewed as the least desirable form of medical practice. 22 Alienists were regarded by other physicians, especially neurologists, as occupying a position only one small grade above quacks. Homeopaths like Paine were certainly regarded as quacks by most of the regular physicians, but such sectarian animosity did not seem to exist in the lowly community of alienists. There is no record of significant sectarian discord even though most alienists were probably trained as regular physicians.

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