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Changing Explanations in Mind-Body Medicine

Potential Topics for Papers or Projects

The following topics can be assigned as research papers, small group presentations, or classroom debates. Each topic allows students to expand their understanding and analysis of classroom discussion. A bibliography is provided to facilitate further research and reading for the assignment.

  1. Research ideas about a particular physical disease over a long period of time, perhaps a century or more—heart disease or asthma, for example—and examine the respective roles that biological and psychological factors were thought to have played in the disease you have studied. Try to identify periods in medical history when psychological factors were given particular prominence in the explanation of the disease you have investigated.
  2. Explore how mental illness was understood in various periods and by different individuals, and investigate what factors seem to have influenced whether a particular physician looked primarily to biological or psychological causes and treatments for the mental symptoms and behaviors studied.
  3. Research the ways in which different physicians at various times understood how their patients’ emotions influenced the onset, intensification, or amelioration of physical symptoms and syndromes. Be alert to ways in which these physicians may have differentiated symptoms and syndromes into several categories, some of which were highly responsive to emotional influences and others were not.
  4. Research groups of physicians in different periods to determine whether some individuals were more biologically-prone and others more psychologically prone in the same period of time. Explore what scientific, philosophical, professional, and personality factors may have influenced physicians to be more inclined one way or the other.
  5. Locate case records from various periods in medical history and use them to find evidence for both patients’ and physicians’ alertness to psychological dimensions in practice. Study these records to see whether or not there is evidence that patients talked to their physicians and physicians listened to their patients.
  6. Track down detailed biographies or autobiographies of physicians in the twentieth century and study them closely for indications of sensitivity or insensitivity to psychological vs. biological circumstances in their patients’ illness experiences. Consider how these sensitivities may have been influenced by the contemporary popularity of psychoanalysis, stress research, molecular medicine, or psychopharmacology.

Online Resources

  • Emotions and Disease, an online exhibition by the National Library of Medicine. Accessed on 1/27/2012.

Primary Sources

  • Descartes, Rene. Philosophical Works; Translated by E.S. Haldane and D.R.T. Ross, Vol. I. New York: Dover Publications, 1955, 331–356.
  • Hoffmann, Friedrich. Fundamenta Medicinae. Translated and Introduced by Lester S. King. London: Macdonald, 1971, 39–47, 55–58, 103–108.
  • Maimonides, Moses. “Two Treatises on the Regimen of Health.” In Transactions of the American Philosophical Society 54 (1964): 16, 23–26.
  • Shah, Mazhar H. The General Principles of Avicenna’s Canon of Medicine. Karachi: Naveed Clinic, 1966, 5–14, 154–156, 180–182, 228, 254, 364–366.

Secondary Sources

  • Ackerknecht, Erwin. A Short History of Psychiatry. New York: Hafner Publishing Company, 1959.
  • ———. “A History of Psychosomatic Medicine.” In Psychological Medicine, vol. 12 (1982): 17–14.
  • Aronowitz, Robert. Making Sense of Illness. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998.
  • Braslow, Joel. Mental Illness and Bodily Cures: Psychiatric Treatment in the First Half of the Twentieth Century. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997.
  • Brumberg, Joan Jacobs. Fasting Girls: The Emergence of Anorexia Nervosa as a Modern Disease. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1988.
  • Conrad, Lawrence I. et al. The Western Medical Tradition:800 BC to AD 1800. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995.
  • Duffin, Jacalyn. History of Medicine: A Scandalously Short Introduction. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1999.
  • Ellenberger, Henri. The Discovery of the Unconscious. New York: Basic Books, 1970.
  • Frankel, Richard M. et al. The Biopsychosocial Approach: Past, Present, Future. Rochester: University of Rochester Press, 2003.
  • French, Roger. Medicine Before Science: The Rational and Learned Doctor from the Middle Ages to the Enlightenment. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003.
  • Grob, Gerald. The Mad Among Us: A History of the Care of America’s Mentally Ill. New York: The Free Press, 1994.
  • Hale, Nathan G. Freud and the Americans: The Beginnings of Psychoanalysis in the United States, 1876–1917. New York: Oxford University Press, 1977.
  • ———. The Rise and Crisis of Psychoanalysis in the United States: Freud and the Americans, 1917–1985. New York: Oxford University Press, 1995.
  • Harrington, Anne. The Cure Within: A History of Mind-Body Medicine. New York: W.W. Norton, 2008.
  • Healy, David. The Creation of Psychopharmacology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002.
  • Healy, David. Let Them Eat Prozac. New York: New York University Press, 2004.
  • Herzberg, David. Happy Pills in America: From Miltown to Prozac. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2009.
  • Howells, John G. The Concept of Schizophrenia: Historical Perspectives. Washington DC: American Psychiatric Press, 1991.
  • Jackson, Mark. Allergy: The History of a Modern Malady. London: Reaktion Books, 2006.
  • ———. Asthma: The Biography. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009.
  • Jackson, Stanley W. Melancholia and Depression from Hippocratic Times to Modern Times. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1986.
  • Jackson, Stanley W. Care of the Psyche: A History of Psychological Healing. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1999.
  • Lain Entralgo, Pedro. The Therapy of the Word in Classical Antiquity. Edited and Translated by Leland J. Rather and John Sharp. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1970.
  • Lawrence, Christopher, and George Weisz (eds.), Greater Than the Parts: Holism in Biomedicine, 1920–1950. New York: Oxford University Press, 1998.
  • Leese, Peter. Shell Shock: Traumatic Neuroses and the British Soldier of the First World War. New York: Palgrave, 2002.
  • Lerner, Paul. Hysterical Men: War, Psychiatry, and the Politics of Trauma in Germany, 1890–1930. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2003.
  • Lunbeck, Elizabeth. The Psychiatric Persuasion: Knowledge, Gender, and Power in Modern America. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1994.
  • MacDonald, Michael. Mystical Bedlam: Madness, Anxiety, and Healing in Seventeenth-Century England. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1981.
  • Makari, George. Revolution in Mind: The Creation of Psychoanalysis. New York: HarperCollins, 2008.
  • Martensen, Robert. The Brain Takes Shape: An Early History. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004.
  • Metzl, Jonathan. Prozac on the Couch. Durham: Duke University Press, 2003.
  • Micale, Mark S., and Roy Porter, eds. Discovering the History of Psychiatry. New York: Oxford University Press, 1994.
  • Nutton, Vivian. Ancient Medicine. London: Routledge, 2004.
  • Oppenheim, Janet. "Shattered Nerves": Doctors, Patients, and Depression in Victorian England. Bridgewater NJ: Replica Books, 1991.
  • Porter, Roy. Mind-Forg’d Manacles. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1987.
  • Pressman, Jack David. Last Resort: Psychosurgery and the Limits of Medicine. Cambridge University Press, 1998.
  • Rather, Leland J. Mind and Body in Eighteenth-Century Medicine. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1965.
  • Reiser, Joel Stanley. Medicine and the Reign of Technology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1978.
  • Scull, Andrew. Hysteria: The Biography. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009.
  • Shorter, Edward. Bedside Manners: The Troubled History of Doctors and Patients. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1985.
  • Shorter, Edward. From Paralysis to Fatigue: A History of Psychosomatic Illness in the Modern Era. New York: Free Press, 1991.
  • Shorter, Edward. A History of Psychiatry: From the Era of the Asylum to the Age of Prozac. New York; John Wiley & Sons, 1997.
  • Shorter, Edward, and David Healy. Shock Therapy: A History of Electroconvulsive Treatment in Mental Illness. Piscataway, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2007.
  • Showalter, Elaine. The Female Malady: Women, Madness, and English Culture, 1830–1980. New York: Penguin Books, 1985.
  • Simon, Bennett. Mind and Madness in Ancient Greece. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1978.
  • Stepansky, Paul. Psychoanalysis at the Margins. New York: Other Press, 2009.
  • Sternberg, Esther. The Balance Within: The Science Connecting Health and Emotions. New York: Freeman, 2001.
  • ___. Healing Spaces: The Science of Place and Well-Being. Cambridge MA: Belknap Press, 2009.
  • Sulloway, Frank J. Freud, Biologist of the Mind. New York: Basic Books, 1979.
  • Swazey, Judith P. Chlorpromazine in Psychiatry: A Study of Therapeutic Innovation. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1974.
  • Tomes, Nancy. A Generous Confidence: Thomas Story Kirkbride and the Art of Asylum-Keeping, 1840–1883. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1984.
  • Tone, Andrea. The Age of Anxiety: A History of America’s Turbulent Affair with Tranquilizers. New York: Basic Books, 2009.
  • Tracy, Sarah W. Alcoholism in America. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2005.
  • Valenstein, Elliot. Great and Desperate Cures: The Rise and Decline of Psychosurgery. New York: Free Press, 1991.
  • Viner, Russell. “Putting Stress in Life: Hans Selye and the Making of Stress Theory.” In Social Studies of Science, vol. 29 (1999): 391–410.
  • Whorton, James. Nature Cures: The History of Alternative Medicine in America. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002.
  • Young, Allan. The Harmony of Illusions: Inventing Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1995.
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