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The Psychiatric Persuasion: Knowledge, Gender, and Power in Modern America Paperback – January 11, 1996

2 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0691025841 ISBN-10: 0691025843

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Editorial Reviews


Winner of the 1994 Morris D. Forkosch Prize for the Best Book in Intellectual History

Winner of the 1995 John Hope Franklin Publication Prize, American Studies Association

Winner of the 1995 History of Women in Science Prize, History of Science Society

"Lunbeck has found a fascinating archive [at the Boston Psychopathic Hospital] and she has read it meticulously.... The story of the men and women who transformed psychiatry from a nineteenth-century hodgepodge of moralism, religion, and charlatanism to a twentieth-century human science ... is told here with more detail, more immediacy and more insight than ever before."--The New York Times Book Review

"Beautifully written, elegantly conceived.... A major contribution to the growing literature on the history of the professions. It will interest not only historians of science but also scholars in a variety of fields who are concerned with issues relating to gender, power, and the rise of sexual modernity."--The Journal of American History

"If you like stories, you will like this book, as I do. It's a good read. . . . for its rich depictions of the contradictory modernism of early twentieth-century psychiatry. It offers a feast of telling stories."--Susan Stanford Friedman, The Women's Review of Books

"[With] the tools of a historian and the skills of a talented writer, [Lunbeck] . . . uses a social context to examine how psychiatrists viewed society and how society shaped the development of psychiatric thought. . . . Her book will be of interest to students and professionals in the field of mental health, as well as to historians, sociologists, and general readers interested in the early 20th century in America. . . . highly readable, informative, and even picturesque in its evocations."--New England Journal of Medicine

From the Back Cover

"Elizabeth Lunbeck seeks to probe the dynamics and underlying cultural assumptions of psychiatric thought and practice. In a significant way, she lays the foundation for an understanding of the subsequent emergence of psychodynamic and psychoanalytic psychiatry. Not only will her book be of interest to social and cultural historians, but it will also find an audience among those concerned with gender-relates issues."--Gerald N. Grob, Rutgers University


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 445 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press (December 22, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0691025843
  • ISBN-13: 978-0691025841
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #479,243 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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10 of 15 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 15, 1998
Format: Paperback
Elizabeth Lunbeck's purpose in writing Psychiatric Persuasion is to reconstruct the development of psychiatry during the early part of the twentieth century through the use of the archives of the Boston Psychopathic Hospital, as well as to examine the process by which American psychiatrist effected a momentous shift in their discipline's foundations and fortunes. Using Foucaldian methodology, Lunbeck argues that the revolution in psychiatric thinking revamped the culture as a whole, placing psychiatric views and methods at the center of social and cultural life. In addition to this, she maintains that the source of psychiatry's cultural authority is not found within it institutions rather can be located in it's conceptual apparatuses. Unfortunatly, her book lacks contextual evidence from the period and has a sort of hermetic feel, sealed off from the influences of the period. Another problem is within the fundamental arguement; did psychiatrist in the 1910's actually effect this major change, or was it the psychoanalyst? Also, i think it is questionable when this shift actually took place- if it was in fact during the early part of this century, or if it was rather during the 1940's. Her femisnist and Foucaudian assumptions tend to skew the objectivity of her work. A final question that must be asked is whether this shift in the psychiatric profession was actually TO normalcy rather than AWAY FROM insanity. Overall, the book was well written, full of anecdoatal accounts that illustrated her points, and very interesting to read. Unfortunatley, it was too narrow in scope to make the broad claims it purported.
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One of the best academic reads in the past few years, I must say. I read this cover to cover, in one sitting. It is absolutely fascinating (and frightening) how mainstream "psychiatric diagnoses" have come and the road to this mainstream acceptance will send chills down your spine. I highly recommend!
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