Social psychiatry was a mid-twentieth-century approach to mental health that stressed the prevention of mental illness rather than its treatment. Its proponents developed environmental explanations of mental health, arguing that socioeconomic problems such as poverty, inequality, and social isolation were the underlying causes of mental illness. The influence of social psychiatry contributed to the closure of psychiatric hospitals and the emergence of community mental health care during the 1960s. By the 1980s, however, social psychiatry was in decline, having lost ground to biological psychiatry and its emphasis on genetics, neurology, and psychopharmacology.
The First Resort is a history of the rise and fall of social psychiatry that also explores the lessons this largely forgotten movement has to offer today. I examine four ambitious projects that investigated the relationship between socioeconomic factors and mental illness in Chicago, New Haven, New York City, and Nova Scotia. I contend that social psychiatry waned not because of flaws in its preventive approach to mental health but rather because the economic and political crises of the 1970s and the shift to the right during the 1980s foreclosed the social changes required to create a more mentally healthy society. I also argue that social psychiatry provides timely insights about how progressive social policies, such as a universal basic income, can help stem rising rates of mental illness in the present day.
Proteins, Pathologies and Politics presents an international and historical approach to dietary change and health, contrasting current concerns with how issues such as diabetes, cancer, vitamins, sugar and fat, and food allergies were perceived in the 19th and 20th centuries. Though what we eat and what we shouldn’t eat has become a topic of increased scrutiny in the current century, the link between dietary innovation and health/disease is not a new one. From new fads in foodstuffs, through developments in manufacturing and production processes, to the inclusion of additives and evolving agricultural practices changing diet, changes often promised better health only to become associated with the opposite.
This book provides an overview of a diverse array of preventive strategies relating to mental illness, and identifies their achievements and shortcomings. The chapters in this collection illustrate how researchers, clinicians and policy makers drew inspiration from divergent fields of knowledge and practice: from eugenics, genetics and medication to mental hygiene, child guidance, social welfare, public health and education; from risk management to radical and social psychiatry, architectural design and environmental psychology. It highlights the shifting patterns of biological, social and psychodynamic models, while adopting a gender perspective and considering professional developments as well as changing social and legal contexts, including deinstitutionalisation and social movements. Through vigorous research, the contributors demonstrate that preventive approaches to mental health have a long history, and point to the conclusion that it might well be possible to learn from such historical attempts. The book also explores which of these approaches are worth considering in future and which are best confined to the past. Within this context, the book aims at stoking and informing debate and conversation about how to prevent mental illness and improve mental health in the years to come.
Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, or ADHD, is the most common childhood
psychiatric disorder. It is also one of the most controversial. Since the 1950s, when hyperactivity in children was first diagnosed, psychiatrists, educators, parents and politicians have debated the causes, treatment and implications of the disorder. In this book I tell the history of ADHD, explaining why overactive, impulsive children became so problematic, why such behavioural problems were thought to be rooted in neurological dysfunction, and why drugs became the predominant treatment for ADHD. I argue that the best way to understand this complex and divisive disorder is to explore its fascinating – and troubling – history.
An Alternative History of Hyperactivity : Food Additives and the Feingold Diet (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2011)
In 1973, San Francisco allergist Ben Feingold created an uproar by claiming that synthetic food additives triggered hyperactivity, then the most commonly diagnosed childhood disorder in the United States. He contended that the epidemic should not be treated with drugs such as Ritalin but, instead, with a food additive free diet. Parents and the media considered his treatment, the Feingold diet, a compelling alternative. Physicians, however, were skeptical and designed dozens of trials to challenge the idea. The resulting medical opinion was that the diet did not work and it was rejected. I argue that those scientific conclusions were, in fact, flawed. An Alternative History of Hyperactivity explores the origins of the Feingold diet, revealing why it became so popular, and the ways in which physicians, parents, and the public made decisions about whether it was a valid treatment for hyperactivity. By arguing that the fate of Feingold’s therapy depended more on cultural, economic, and political factors than on the scientific protocols designed to test it, I suggest the lessons learned can help resolve medical controversies more effectively.