Richard Noll (born 1959) is an author and clinical psychologist. Currently he is Associate Professor of Psychology at DeSales University in Center Valley, Pennsylvania. He is best known for his publications in the history of psychiatry, including two critical volumes on the life and work of Carl Gustav Jung and his books and articles on the history of dementia praecox and schizophrenia. He is also known for his publications in anthropology on shamanism. His books and articles have been translated into fourteen foreign languages.
He grew up in Detroit, Michigan, and Phoenix, Arizona, where he received his education at Brophy College Preparatory, a Jesuit institution. From 1977 to 1979 he studied political science at the University of Arizona. In the fall of 1978 he spent a semester at the United Nations in New York, returning to complete his B.A. in political science in May 1979. From 1979 to 1984 he was involved with the resettlement of Vietnamese, Laotian, Cambodian and Hmong refugees for both Church World Service and the International Rescue Committee in New York City. From 1985 to 1988 he was a staff psychologist on various wards at Ancora Psychiatric Hospital in Hammonton, New Jersey. He received his Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the New School for Social Research in 1992. Before assuming a position as a professor of psychology at DeSales University in August 2000, he taught and conducted research at Harvard University for four years as a postdoctoral fellow and as Lecturer in History of Science. During the 1995-1996 academic year he was a Visiting Scholar at MIT and a Resident Fellow at the Dibner Institute for the History of Science and Technology.
In 1994 he received an award for Best Book in Psychology from the Association of American Publishers for his book, The Jung Cult: Origins of a Charismatic Movement. The resulting controversy over the book made front-page headlines worldwide, including a front-page report in the 3 June 1995 issue of The New York Times. Princeton University Press submitted The Jung Cult to the Pulitzer Prize competition that year, without success.
The backstory to the controversy over Noll's research on Jung can be found in the "Preface of the New Edition" of The Jung Cult published in paperback by Free Press Paperbacks in 1997 and in an article he wrote for a Random House, Inc., promotional publication, At Random, in that same year. At the urging of the Jung family and estate, Princeton University Press cancelled the publication of a second book edited by Noll which had already made it into final page proofs form, Mysteria: Jung and the Ancient Mysteries: Selections from the Writings of C.G. Jung (ISBN: 0-691-03647-0). A summary of his controversial conclusions were outlined in a short piece in The Times Higher Education Supplement on 22 November 1996.
In his intellectual history of the 20th century, historian Peter Watson noted that "(Noll's) books provoked a controversy no less bitter than the one over Freud . . . ." Frederick Crews lauded The Jung Cult as "an important study."
According to an article by Sara Corbett, "The Holy Grail of the Unconscious," published in The New York Times Magazine on Sunday, 20 September 2009, the Jung family's fear of "the specter of Richard Noll" was cited as a contributing factor in the decision to allow Jung's "Red Book" to be edited and published by W.W. Norton in October 2009.
Criticism of American Psychiatry's Complicity in the 1980s Satanism Moral Panic
He was an early public critic of the American psychiatric profession’s complicity in the Satanic ritual abuse moral panic of the late 1980s and early 1990s. "Except for the work of very few mental-health professionals, such as psychologist Richard Noll and psychiatrists George K. Ganaway and Frank W. Putnam, what little psychiatric writing has emerged on survivors and their therapy has uncritically embraced the literal truth of survivors' claims."
At the invitation of psychiatrist and researcher Frank Putnam, then the Chief of the Dissociative Disorders Unit at the National Institute of Mental Health, Noll was one of four members on a plenary session panel that opened the 7th International Conference on Multiple Personality/Dissociative States in Chicago on 9 November 1990. In a ballroom filled with television cameras and more than 700 conference participants (including feminist intellectual Gloria Steinem, who was a firm believer in the veracity of "recovered memories" of satanic ritual abuse) the members of the panel presented, for the first time in a public professional forum, a skeptical viewpoint concerning SRA reports. The panel cast doubt on the corroborating evidence for the thousands of claims from patients in treatment that they were recovering memories of childhood abuse at the hands of persons (often family members) who were members of satanic cults. Such satanic cults were claimed to be intergenerational in families and had been abusing and ritually sacrificing children in secret for almost 2000 years. When American psychiatrists published purported historical evidence supporting these beliefs in the peer-reviewed journal Dissociation in March 1989, Noll challenged their extraordinary claims in a subsequent issue. His December 1989 conclusion that SRA beliefs were "a modern version of (a) paranoid mass delusion -- and one in which all too many clinicians and law enforcement officials also share" was the first unambiguous skepticism of the moral panic to be published in a medical journal. Noll continued his public skepticism elsewhere. Noll's 1990 panel presentation was an elaboration of this earlier published critique. Other members of the 1990 conference panel were anthropologist Sherrill Mulhern and psychiatrist George Ganaway.
Noll’s participation on the panel was viewed by SRA believers as part of a deliberate disinformation campaign by Frank Putnam, who was skeptical of the reality of satanic cults. This set Putnam apart from other prominent American psychiatrists who were true believers, such as conference organizer Bennett G. Braun, a member of the Dissociative Disorders work group for the American Psychiatric Association's diagnostic manual, DSM-III-R. According to an account based on interviews, "conference attendees characterized (Noll) as a professional expendable who had no idea he was being used. Through him, they contended, Putnam could cast doubt on the contentious issue of linking MPD to ritual abuse." However, Noll's skeptical presentation did have an effect: "Mulhern and Noll cut a line through the therapeutic community. A minority joined them in refusing to believe sacrificial murder was going on; the majority still believed their patients' accounts."
Noll published a memoir of the 1990 conference in Psychiatric Times.
In 1994 Richard Noll and his colleague from Ohio State University, anthropologist Kun Shi, explored Manchuria and Inner Mongolia and interviewed the last living Tungus Siberian shamans in the People's Republic of China south of the Amur river. The story of the life, initiatory illnesses, and shamanic training of the last living shaman of the Oroqen people, Chuonnasuan (1927–2000), was published in 2004 in the Journal of Korean Religions and is also available online. Noll's photograph of Chuonnasuan appears as the fronticepiece in Le chamanisme de Siberie et d'Asie centrale (Paris: Gallimard, 2011) by anthropologists Charles Stepanoff (l'Ecole practique des hautes etudes, Paris) and Thierry Zarcone (also EPHE [Sorbonne], Paris).
A second published report of this fieldwork concerning the life and training of the Solon Ewenki shamaness Dula'r (Ao Yun Hua) appeared in the journal Shaman in 2007 (15: 167-174). The Wenner-Gren Foundation supported the fieldwork that produced these reports. The rationale for the research was provided in a 1985 article which examined the ethnographic literature on shamanism from the perspective of cognitive science.
Noll was introduced to the study of shamanism in the fall of 1980 by the anthropologist Michael Harner, then a professor at the New School for Social Research in New York City.
Scholarship on the History of Dementia Praecox and Schizophrenia
Noll's most recent book, American Madness: The Rise and Fall of Dementia Praecox, was published by Harvard University Press in October 2011. A brief interview with Noll appears on the Harvard University Press Blog (30 January 2012.
In April 2012 it was announced that American Madness: The Rise and Fall of Dementia Praecox was the winner of the 2012 Cheiron Book Prize from Cheiron, International Society for the History of the Behavioral and Social Sciences.
On 13 September 2012 it was announced in London that American Madness: The Rise and Fall of Dementia Praecox won a 2012 BMA Medical Book Award - Highly Commended in Psychiatry from the British Medical Association.
In March 2013 Scientific American Mind incorporated findings from American Madness in its print and online "timeline" on the history of schizophrenia.
"Tales of personal drama enliven Noll's story in a way that few would imagine possible for a historical account of nosology," said a reviewer in the American Journal of Psychiatry. According to sociologist Andrew Scull in the Journal of American History, "Richard Noll's American Madness is an important book that deserves a wide readership among those interested in understanding the development of American psychiatry between 1896 and the 1930s."
In a September 2012 review in Isis historian John C. Burnham noted, "It is clearly written and is based on a remarkably thorough literature search and reading of primary sources. . . . Noll's book will become a useful narrative for much of the modern history of psychiatry in the United States." He further added, "the research and thinking that went into this book make it refreshing and valuable."
- Princeton University Press. "The Jung Cult: Origins of a Charismatic Religion". Princeton University Press. Retrieved February 2013.
- Smith, Dinitia. "Scholar Who Says Jung Lied is at War with Descendants". The New York Times. Retrieved 3 June 1995.
- Noll, Richard (Fall 1997). "A Christ Named Carl Jung". At Random 6 (3 (No.18)): 56–59.
- Noll, Richard. "Mysteria: Jung and the Ancient Mysteries". Princeton University Press. Retrieved 1 May 2013.
- Noll, Richard. "Folk Fictions". The Times Higher Education Supplement (22 November 1996). Retrieved 3 March 2013.
- Watson, Peter (2001). The Modern Mind: An Intellectual History of the 20th Century. New York: Harper Collins. p. 760. ISBN 0=06-019413-8.
- Crews, Frederick. Follies of the Wise: Dissenting Essays. New York: Counterpoint, 2007 (page 247).
- Corbett, Sara (20 September 2009). "The Holy Grail of the Unconscious". The New York Times. Retrieved 22 May 2010.
- "The Search for Satan". PBS Frontline documentary. aired 24 October 1995.
- Hicks, Robert D. (1991). In Pursuit of Satan: The Police and the Occult. Buffalo, NY: Prometheus. p. 156. ISBN 9781591022190.
- Braun, Bennett G. (1990). Dissociative Disorders, 1990: Proceedings of the 7th International Conference on Multiple Personality/Dissociative States . . . November 9-11, 1990. Chicago: Dissociative Disorders Program, Dept. of Psychiatry, Rush University.
- Hill, S and Goodwin J. "Satanism: Similarities between patient accounts and pre-Inquisition historical accounts". Dissociation (March 1989) 2(1): 39-44. Retrieved 3 March 2013.
- Noll, Richard. "Satanism, UFO Abductions, Historians and Clinicians: Those Who Do Not Remember the Past . . . .". Dissociation (December 1989), Vol. 2, No. 4, pp. 251-253. Retrieved 1 March 2013.
- Noll, Richard (Summer 1991). "Give me that old time religion: Two books on the modern satanism scare". Skeptical Inquirer 15: 412–415.
- Baker, Robert A. (1992). Hidden Memories: Voices and Visions From Within. Buffalo, NY: Prometheus. p. 327. ISBN 0-87975-684-5.
- Noll, Richard (1993). "Exorcism and Possession: The Clash of Worldviews and the Hubris of Psychiatry". Dissociation 6 (4): 250–253. Retrieved 27 February 2013.
- Noll, Richard (1992). Vampires, Werewolves and Demons: Twentieth Century Reports in the Psychiatric Literature. New York: Brunner/Mazel. pp. 6–7.
- Lockwood, Craig (1993). Other Altars: Roots and Realities of Cultic and Satanic Ritual Abuse and Multiple Personality Disorder. Minneapolis, MN, pp. 14, 17: CompCare Publishers. ISBN 0-89638-363-6.
- Noll, Richard. When Psychiatry Battled the Devil. Psychiatric Times(online), 6 December 2013. Noll, Richard, Psychiatric Times (online), 6 December 2013. http://www.psychiatrictimes.com/blogs/history-psychiatry/when-psychiatry-battled-devil
- Noll, Richard; Shi, Kun (2004). "Chuonnasuan (Meng Jin Fu). The Last Shaman of the Oroqen of Northeast China" (pdf). Journal of Korean Religions (6): 135–162. It describes the life of Chuonnasuan, the last shaman of the Oroqen of Northeast China.
- Stepanoff, Charles (2011). Le chamanisme de Siberie et d"Asie centrale. Paris: Gallimard. ISBN 978-2-07-0444298.
- Noll, Richard. "Mental Imagery Cultivation as a Cultural Phenomenon: The Role of visions in shamanism". Current Anthropology (1985). Retrieved 21 May 2013.
- "The Rise and Fall of American Madness". Harvard University Press. Retrieved 30 January 2012.
- "2012 Cheiron Book Prize". Cheiron. Retrieved April 2012.
- "2012 BMA Medical Book Award Winners". BMA Library. Retrieved 13 September 2012.
- Yuhas, Daisy. "Throughout History, Defining Schizophrenia Has Remained a Challenge (Timeline)". Scientific American Mind (March 2013). Retrieved 1 March 2013.
- Fleisher, Carl. "Book review of American Madness". American Journal of Psychiatry 170 (5), May 2013, p. 564. Retrieved 21 May 2013.
- Scull, Andrew. "Book review of American Madness". Journal of American History, 2013, 99 (4):1279. Retrieved 21 May 2013.
- Burnham, John C. (September 2012). "Book review of American Madness". Isis 103 (3): 611–612.
Bibliography (selected publications)
- 1983 Shamanism and schizophrenia: A state-specific approach to the "schizophrenia metaphor" of shamanic states. American Ethnologist 10: 443-459.
- 1985 Mental imagery cultivation as a cultural phenomenon: The role of visions in shamanism. Current Anthropology 26:443-461 (with commentary).
- 1989 What has really been learned about shamanism? Journal of Psychoactive Drugs 21: 47-50.
- 1990 Bizarre Diseases of the Mind; Real-Life Cases of Rare Mental Illnesses, Vampirism, Possession, Split Personalities, and More(New York: Berkeley), ISBN 0-425-12172-0
- 1992 Vampires, Werewolves and Demons: Twentieth Century Reports in the Psychiatric Literature(New York: Brunner/Mazel), ISBN 0-87630-632-6
- 1994 The Jung Cult: Origins of a Charismatic Movement (Princeton: Princeton University Press), ISBN 0-684-83423-5
- 1997 The Aryan Christ: The Secret Life of Carl Jung (New York: Random House), ISBN 0-679-44945-0
- 1997 The Jung Cult: Origins of a Charismatic Movement (paperback) (New York: Free Press), ISBN 0-684-83423-5
- 1997 "A Christ Named Carl Jung," At Random (ISSN 1062-0036),Volume 6, Number 3, 56-59.
- 1999 Styles of psychiatric practice, 1906-1925: Clinical evaluations of the same patient by James Jackson Putnam, Adolf Meyer, August Hoch, Emil Kraepelin and Smith Ely Jelliffe. History of Psychiatry 10: 145-189.
- 2004 Historical review: Autointoxication and focal infection theories of dementia praecox. World Journal of Biological Psychiatry 5:66-72.
- 2004 Dementia Praecox Studies (letter to the editor and historical note). Schizophrenia Research 68: 103-104.
- 2006 The blood of the insane. History of Psychiatry 17: 395-418. http://ganymedes.lib.unideb.hu:8080/udpeer/bitstream/2437.2/10702/1/PEER_stage2_10.1177%252F0957154X06059440.pdf
- 2006 Haeckel, Ernst Heinrich. In Encyclopedia of Modern Europe: Europe 1789 to 1914--Encyclopedia of the Age of Industry and Empire, Volume 2, edited by John Merriman and Jay Winter (New York: Thomas Gale).
- 2007 (with Kun Shi) A Solon Ewenki shaman and her Abagaldai shaman mask. Shaman: Journal of the International Society for Shamanistic Research (Budapest, Hungary) 15: 37-44.
- 2007 The Encyclopedia of Schizophrenia and Other Psychotic Disorders, third edition (New York: Facts-on-File), ISBN 0-8160-6405-9
- 2009 (with Kun Shi) The last shaman of the Oroqen people of Northeast China. Shaman: Journal of the International Society for Shamanistic Research (Budapest, Hungary) 17: 95-118.
- 2011 Sabine Bahn, Richard Noll, Anthony Barnes, Emmanuel Schwarz, Paul C. Guest. Challenges of introducing new biomarker products for neuropsychiatric disorders into the market. International Review of Neurobiology, 101:299-327.
- 2011 American Madness: The Rise and Fall of Dementia Praecox, (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2011) ISBN 978-0-674-04739-6
- 2012 Whole body madness. Psychiatric Times (print), 29(12):13-14. http://www.psychiatrictimes.com/blogs/history-psychiatry/whole-body-madness
- 2013 The bed makes gestures. Psychiatric Times (print), 30 (3): 25. http://www.psychiatrictimes.com/articles/bed-makes-gestures
- 2013 Suffering and sadness are not diseases. Harvard University Press Blog, (28 May 2013)http://harvardpress.typepad.com/hup_publicity/2013/05/suffering-and-sadness-are-not-diseases-richard-noll.html#more
- 2013 (Spring) Tribal epistemologies. Bio/Politics http://bio-politics.org/
- 2013 When psychiatry battled the devil.Psychiatric Times (online), 6 December 2013. http://www.psychiatrictimes.com/
- Noll's page at www.desales.edu
- Noll, Richard; Shi, Kun (2004). "Chuonnasuan (Meng Jin Fu). The Last Shaman of the Oroqen of Northeast China" (pdf). Journal of Korean Religions (6): 135–162.
- Chuonnasuan (Meng Jin Fu) and the village life of the Oroqen were filmed in 1992 by Chinese state television. At the 25:10 mark in the documentary, Chuonnasuan is seen officiating at a funeral and tree burial as well as -- briefly -- reenacting a ritual in full shamanic dress. http://v.youku.com/v_show/id_XNzkyMjUwMzY=.html