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Encyclopedia of Asylum Therapeutics, 1750-1950s

by Mary De Young

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This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Really exactly as the title describes: an encyclopedia of therapies used on those suffering from diagnosed mental illnesses (whether diagnosed accurately or just culturally for the time) from 1750 to 1959. A fascinating (and sometimes terrifying) historical snapshot that would have benefited by having been organized by time period (or at least to have had an index with pointers to years when certain treatments were used). ( )
  ferness | Nov 17, 2016 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Amazingly thorough encyclopedia of mental health treatments. I wish I had had this when I was writing my dissertation, which was on the subject. These lengthy, detailed entries would have saved me so much time and led to so many new ideas. ( )
  susanbooks | May 11, 2016 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Encyclopedia of Asylum Therapeutics is definitely an interesting and very informative tome describing the questionable treatments used to treat mental health in the past. That being said, however, the reason it only received a four-star reading rather than a five-star is that in spite of it being an encyclopaedia it would be very difficult for one to find a particular listing right away since it is broken into different chapters, and then sub-categorized within the chapters. Many things mentioned are not even listed in the index, i.e: "Lobotomy" nor "Leucotomy" are specifically listed in the index, although there is several pages regarding them in the chapter of "Psychosurgery"; "Liver Spraying" also has its own sub-category under "Hydrotherapy", but in the index in generalized under "Liver"...etc...
There were also historical anecdotes regarding some patients that make for good reading, but there are others such as the case of Williams/James Norris that had noted that during stay of incarceration he had violent displays, while it failed to provide any further detail as to why he had been incarcerated in the first place.

The book is written in a style suitable for a layperson, but unless one is a frequent reader of the history of medical practices they may be horrified and disgusted by the treatments (indeed, it is difficult not to be, regardless of your reading experience in the field) and can be thankful that the most extreme treatments are out of practice.

Source notes are well documented at the end of each chapter. ( )
  TheCelticSelkie | Dec 21, 2015 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Encyclopedia of Asylum Therapeutics isn't exactly bedtime reading. It is, as the title suggests, a pretty hefty tome outlying all of the different treatment methods used in asylums over a span of about 200 years. A lot of research went into the book, and is available after each section in the form of detailed references. There aren't many illustrations, but some is much better than none.

I find myself saying as I read each new section "omg, that's so effed up!" and indeed many of the "therapy" methods were disgustingly inhumane. It makes me glad to live in a time where empirical data (ignoring any issues about Big Pharma for the moment) is required before treatment methods are used, and where advocate groups are around to ensure fair treatment for patients in psychiatric hospitals. It seems unbelievably backward to me that doctors could just do whatever they want (such as starving patients, force feeding patients, bleeding patients, blistering patients, etc. ad nauseam), decide that they had a good outcome, and keep on doing it! ( )
  lemontwist | Dec 7, 2015 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Surprisingly interesting reference to treatments at asylums. I've heard about several of these types in the past as part of other research, but this is the first time that I've seen this all pulled together into one work. You can flip to basically every page and find yourself fascinated with what was being done. It is... scary at times to see what people considered to be legitimate treatments in the past.

In addition, this is well sourced, so that if you ever had the need (*shudder*) to find out more information, you could.
  ryan.adams | Nov 15, 2015 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0786468971, Paperback)

The mentally ill have always been with us, but once confined in institutions their treatment has not always been of much interest or concern. This work makes a case for why it should be. Using published reports, studies, and personal narratives of doctors and patients, this book reveals how therapeutics have always been embedded in their particular social and historical moment, and how they have linked extant medical knowledge, practitioner skill and the expectations of patients who experienced their own disorders in different ways. Three centuries of asylum therapeutics are detailed in encyclopedic entries, including awakening patients with firecrackers, easing brain congestion by bleeding, extracting teeth and excising parts of the colon, dousing with water, raising or lowering body temperature, shocking with electricity or toxins, and penetrating the brain with ice picks.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:07:35 -0400)

"The mentally ill have always been with us, but once confined in institutions their treatment has not always been of much interest or concern. Using published reports, studies, and personal narratives of doctors and patients, this book reveals how therapeutics have always been embedded in their particular social and historical moment"--… (more)

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