Books by Andrew Scull

Released: April 1, 2015

"To be read as both corrective and supplement to Foucault, Szasz, and Rieff. Often brilliant and always luminous and rewarding."
Far-ranging, illuminating study of minds gone awry across space and time. Read full book review >
Released: Jan. 1, 1997

A terse traipse through Foucault terrain that explores the careers of several Victorians who made a living out of the ``lunacy trade.'' According to sociologist Scull (Univ. of Calif., San Diego) and British health and education experts MacKenzie and Hervey, the advance of capitalism in the 19th century gave rise to a whole class of people who brought ``skill and expertise rather than material goods'' to the marketplace. And while a career associated with the mentally ill was still thought ignominious in England, a number of ambitious men sought to make names for themselves, and make their way in the medical establishment, by proselytizing their ``cures.'' Purging, vomiting, and punitive treatment had formerly been the practice in asylums, but an onslaught of moral reform agents campaigned to revolutionize the system. John Haslam, who rose to prominence at Bethlem Hospital for the insane in London, even published a book promoting the necessity of benevolence in such institutions. Yet when a group of reformers spontaneously toured the asylum, they were aghast to find the patients naked and shackled in their cells, their bodies smeared with excrement. Other, more consistent figures honestly sought change through a variety of non-medical cures but ended up resorting to medical solutions in the face of failing idealism and low recovery rates. Nevertheless, the new social consciousness about the insane, combined with the advent of psychoanalysis, formed the foundation for modern psychiatry. In tracing the lives of the men who shaped the field of psychiatry in Britain, the authors relentlessly drive home the the manner in which the needs of a society shape its principles and theories, while also lucidly emphasizing the effect of social ambitions on personal philosophy. A punchy study that makes up for its occasionally dry tone with scholarly rigor and zeal. (18 photos, not seen) Read full book review >