A Reference Companion to the History of Abnormal Psychology - Vol. 1

By John G. Howells; M. Livia Osborn | Go to book overview
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Introduction

A Reference Companion to the History of Abnormal Psychology is a source book and a channel to the history of abnormal psychology. As it gleans from the pastures of the literature of abnormal psychology, it is also an analecta. As many of its entries were selected for their fascination, it is a delectus. As It hopes to be a ready servant to the reader, it is an ancilla. The book provides within its covers material of historical interest in the field of abnormal psychology that is not found in a single volume. By the term "abnormal" we mean the unusual as well as the frankly pathological. These two terms are taken in their historical context. For example, although conditions such as mental retardation and epilepsy are not now considered part of the field of abnormal psychology, they were in the past. Because they were not understood, the behavior they engendered was linked to psychiatric disorders.

The Companion paints on a broad canvas packed with holy springs, sacred plants, old superstitions, ancient fears, amulets, potions, strange beliefs, madhouses, scientific ideas, instruments of therapy, legal edicts, famous books, poets, painters, politicians, kings, queens, humble folk, popes, and debauchers, saints and sinners, healers and the healed, exploiters and the exploited, the wise and the foolish. A male soprano, FARINELLI, who, with his golden voice, cured Philip V of Spain of his melancholy, precedes an entry on FARMING, a method of therapy imposed on mental patients in eighteenth-century Scotland. MAHLER's emotional difficulties and the diagnosis of his condition by Freud give a new dimension to the understanding of his music. SPIRIT OF SKULL, as administered to Charles II of England, the SPINNING CHAIR, TOBACCO and its history, the strange symptoms of TARANTISM and the psychopathic activities of the THUGS are some of the entries that throw an unusual, intriguing, and often unexpected light on the history of abnormal behavior, its explanation and its treatment. Should the reader require brief biographical details and data on the major achievements of famous physicians of antiquity, psychiatrists, or psychologists and rel

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