Madhouse: A Tragic Tale of Megalomania and Modern Medicine

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Madhouse: A Tragic Tale of Megalomania and Modern Medicine
Cover
Author Andrew Scull
Subject Henry Cotton, focal infection theory
Genre Non-fiction
Publication date
2005
Pages 376 pp.
ISBN ISBN 9780300107296
OCLC 57168770

Madhouse: A Tragic Tale of Megalomania and Modern Medicine is a 2005 book by the psychiatric sociologist Andrew Scull which discusses the work of controversial psychiatrist Henry Cotton at Trenton State Hospital in New Jersey in the 1920s.

Cotton became convinced that insanity was fundamentally a toxic disorder and he surgically removed body parts to try to improve mental health.[1] This often began with the removal of teeth and tonsils:

An 18 year-old girl with agitated depression successively had her upper and lower molars extracted, a tonsillectomy, sinus drainage, treatment for an infected cervix, removal of intestinal adhesions—all without effecting improvement in her psychiatric condition. Then the remainder of her teeth were removed and she was sent home, pronounced cured.[1]

Scull argues that Cotton's obsession with focal sepsis as the root cause of mental illness "persisted in spite of all evidence to the contrary and the frightening incidence of death and harm from the operations he initiated".[1] Cotton's approach attracted some detractors, but the medical establishment of the day did not effectively renounce or discipline him.[1]

One reviewer called Madhouse "a fine piece of historical research with a modern relevance", and added that "it makes compelling reading".[1]

Reviews[edit]

The book was reviewed in Psychiatric Services,[2] The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease,[3] History of Psychiatry,[4] BMJ,[5] The Journal of the American Medical Association,[6] Canadian Medical Association Journal,[7][8] The New England Journal of Medicine,[9] Bulletin of the History of Medicine,[10] Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences,[11] Journal of Social History,[12] Journal of American History,[13] London Review of Books,[14] The Times Literary Supplement,[15] The New York Times,[16] and other publications.[1][17][18][19]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f Freckelton, Ian (1 November 2005). "Madhouse: A Tragic Tale of Megalomania and Modern Medicine (Book review)". Psychiatry, Psychology and Law 12 (2): 435–438. doi:10.1375/pplt.12.2.435. 
  2. ^ Geller, Jeffrey (1 July 2006). "Madhouse: A Tragic Tale of Megalomania and Modern Medicine". Psychiatric Services 57 (7): 1054–1055. doi:10.1176/appi.ps.57.7.1054. 
  3. ^ Charuvastra, Anthony (July 2006). "Madhouse: A Tragic Tale of Megalomania and Modern Medicine". The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease 194 (7): 553–554. doi:10.1097/01.nmd.0000224947.31227.fb. 
  4. ^ Gladstone, David (December 2006). "Book Review: Madhouse: A Tragic Tale of Megalomania and Modern Medicine". History of Psychiatry 17 (4): 499–500. doi:10.1177/0957154X0606072901. 
  5. ^ Double, DB (28 May 2005). "Book Review: Madhouse: A Tragic Tale of Megalomania and Modern Medicine". BMJ 330 (7502): 1276. doi:10.1136/bmj.330.7502.1276. PMC 558112. 
  6. ^ Hirshbein, Laura (24–31 August 2005). "Madhouse: A Tragic Tale of Megalomania and Modern Medicine". The Journal of the American Medical Association 294 (8): 968–969. doi:10.1001/jama.294.8.968-b. 
  7. ^ Warme, Gordon (3 January 2006). "A cautionary tale. Madhouse: a tragic tale of megalomania and modern medicine". Canadian Medical Association Journal 174 (1): 68. doi:10.1503/cmaj.051016. 
  8. ^ Deshauer, Dorian (26 May 2009). "Madhouse: A Tragic Tale of Megalomania and Modern Medicine". Canadian Medical Association Journal 180 (11): 1139. doi:10.1503/cmaj.081925. 
  9. ^ Michel, Robert (3 November 2005). "Madhouse: A Tragic Tale of Megalomania and Modern Medicine". The New England Journal of Medicine 353: 1980–1981. doi:10.1056/NEJM200511033531824. 
  10. ^ Brown, Edward (Fall 2006). "Madhouse: A Tragic Tale of Megalomania and Modern Medicine (review)". Bulletin of the History of Medicine 80 (3): 597–598. doi:10.1353/bhm.2006.0086. 
  11. ^ Moran, James (April 2007). "Madhouse: A Tragic Tale of Megalomania and Modern Medicine (review)". Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences 62 (2): 262–264. doi:10.1093/jhmas/jrl055. 
  12. ^ Gollaher, David (Summer 2006). "Madhouse: A Tragic Tale of Megalomania and Modern Medicine (review)". Journal of Social History 39 (4): 1221–1223. doi:10.1353/jsh.2006.0038. 
  13. ^ Dwyer, Ellen (2006). "Madhouse: A Tragic Tale of Megalomania and Modern Medicine". The Journal of American History 93 (1): 253–254. doi:10.2307/4486164. 
  14. ^ Barham, Peter (18 August 2005). "Elimination. Madhouse: A Tragic Tale of Megalomania and Modern Medicine". London Review of Books 27 (17): 22. 
  15. ^ Freeman, Hugh, MD (2 September 2005). "Infectious lunacy. Madhouse: A Tragic Tale of Megalomania and Modern Medicine". The Times Literary Supplement. 
  16. ^ McGrath, Patrick (29 May 2005). "'Madhouse': Nonelective Surgery". The New York Times. 
  17. ^ Fink, Max (September 2005). "Madhouse: A Tragic Tale of Megalomania and Modern Medicine". The Journal of ECT 21 (3): 191–193. 
  18. ^ Prior, Pauline (2006). "Madhouse: A Tragic Tale of Megalomania and Modern Medicine". Social History of Medicine 19 (1): 150–152. doi:10.1093/shm/hkj010. 
  19. ^ Meyer, Charles, M.D. (January 2007). "Brilliance or Brutality? Two stories of 20th century physicians who thought they could surgically rid their patients of mental illness". Minnesota Medicine 90 (1).