Great Discoveries in Psychiatry

Ronald Chase

ISBN 978-3-8325-5347-0
225 pages, year of publication: 2021
price: 34.00 €
Reviews: "Great Discoveries in Psychiatry presents a history of the discipline through various discoveries, but it is anything but the anticipated staid survey. Readers should expect a healthy dose of science as well as history. Details of the various social, political, and scientific influences are presented using lively language and unexpected associations that encourage readers to think not just about psychiatry's evolution as a discipline, but also the diverse paths to discovery and change. ... Chase's ability to cultivate a winning, lively tone in a study that could all too easily have been dry and fact-laden instead of fact-inspired sets Great Discoveries in Psychiatry apart from other histories. It deserves a place as a foundation read in not just mental health collections, but for general-interest readers who will find its special blend of scholarship and investigative insights just the right formula for an accessible, inviting read." D. Donovan, Midwest Book Review

Everyone knows about the celebrated discoveries in physical medicine, yet few people can name a single discovery in psychiatry. This book fills the gap by recounting the paths taken to fifteen breakthroughs in psychiatry.

Told here are stories of how an Australian psychiatrist single-handedly discovered an effective medication for mania and why it was never patented; what an eighteenth century physician found beneath the skull of patients residing at a hospital where the infamous Marquis de Sade staged plays; the eery X-rays that revealed the first biomarker for schizophrenia; how magnetic resonance imaging detects damaged nerve bundles by tracking water molecules in the brain; what a pig slaughterhouse contributed to the treatment of depression. And much more.

Taken in their entirety, the chapters cover all or most of the major topics in psychiatry, namely care and treatment, diagnostics, biomarkers, and neuroscience. They follow a rough chronological order beginning around the year 1800 and continuing right through to the present.

Deeply researched and fully referenced, the language is non-technical. Sixty-six illustrations accompany the text. This book will help people understand where psychiatry has come from and where it is likely headed.

Ronald Chase is Professor Emeritus at McGill University, Montréal. He was educated at Stanford University (A.B. Psychology) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Ph.D. Psychology). After postdoctoral training at the Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry, Munich, and the University of Washington, he taught neurobiology in the Department of Biology at McGill University. He is the author of more than eighty peer-reviewed research articles. Previous books are "Behavior and its Neural Control in Gastropod Molluscs", "The Physical Basis of Mental Illness", "Schizophrenia: A Brother Finds Answers in Biological Science", and "The Making of Modern Psychiatry".

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Table of contents (PDF)

Preview (PDF)


  • Psychiatry
  • History of Psychiatry
  • Diagnostics
  • Neuroscience
  • Discoveries


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