Psychiatry Psychology - Hektoen International

Henry Cotton: Pulling teeth to cure disease

Portrait of Henry Andrews Cotton from Appleton’s Cyclopædia of American Biography, Vol. X, 1924, pages 324–325. Via Wikimedia. Public domain. Dr. Henry Cotton believed that all mental illnesses were caused by chronic “focal” infections hidden in various organs. He argued that when these infections spread to the brain, they caused inflammation and mental disorders. To […]

Christian Sibelius: Finland’s first professor of psychiatry

Jonathan Davidson Durham, North Carolina, United States   Photo of Christian Sibelius taken c. 1915–1920 by Atelier Nyblin. Via Wikimedia. Public domain. When the name Sibelius is mentioned, most people will think of the famous Finnish composer, Jean. Outside of Scandinavia, few will know that Jean’s younger brother, Christian, achieved distinction in a very different […]

Wilson on the couch: How Sigmund Freud and William C. Bullitt, an American diplomat, came to analyze the American president

James L. Franklin Chicago, Illinois, United States   Thomas Woodrow Wilson. Harris & Ewing Collection, Library of Congress. Via Wikimedia. Public domain. In December 1966, Houghton Mifflin Company published Thomas Woodrow Wilson: Twenty-Eighth President of the United States, A Psychological Study by Sigmund Freud and William C. Bullitt. The curious fact that Sigmund Freud, the […]

Margery Kempe: Medieval visions, delusions, and hallucinations

Margery Kempe (c. 1393 – after 1438) was an English Christian mystic who dictated autobiographic notes to a scribe. Married when twenty years old, she had a postpartum psychotic episode after the birth of her first child and went through at least fourteen subsequent pregnancies. Psychotic symptoms, delusions, and hallucinations continued all her life. She had […]

It’s not the patient who hit you…

JP Sutherland North America   The Entombment. Oil painting by Federico Barocci, early 18th century. Victoria and Albert Museum. Although Christopher’s appearance was extraordinary, there was no sign (not even in retrospect) that he would kick me in the groin within the next hour. He was naked, and standing motionless with his arms held out […]

The Barbie doll syndrome

Howard Fischer Uppsala, Sweden   1959 first edition Barbie doll. Barbie copyright held by Mattel. Barbieologin on Wikipedia, CC BY 3.0. Fair use. “In all the years I’ve been a therapist, I’ve yet to meet a girl who likes her body.”1 – Mary Pipher, PhD, clinical psychologist   In 1959, the Mattel toy company introduced […]

Dancing with spiders: tarantellas and tarantism

Howard Fischer Uppsala, Sweden   “There are always hysterical people undergoing extraordinary cures.” – Robertson Davies, The Cunning Man Etching of people dancing the tarantella and playing music as an antidote to a tarantula bite. Wellcome Collection. Public domain.   The industrial city of Taranto is in the “heel” of boot-shaped Italy. The Romans called […]

The mystique of psychiatry: a closer look

Lawrence Climo Lincoln, Massachusetts, United States   Photo by Larry Ayalo on Unsplash As a retired psychiatrist, I have been thinking about the mystique that surrounds our profession. Psychiatrists seem to trigger three provocative associations that set them apart from other physicians. The first, sometimes interpreted as a wish, is that psychiatrists read minds and therefore […]

Qualis artifex pereo

Henri Colt  Laguna Beach, California, United States   Man sitting. Photo by Gadiel Lazcano on Unsplash. This short story is a work of fiction. Translation: “What an artist the world is losing with me!” — cited by Suctonius, The Twelve Caesars, Nero 49; Loeb ed., 2:177   Michael had jet black hair and sorrowful brown […]

De Profundis: Oscar Wilde’s narrative of mental anguish

Anthony G. Chesebro Stony Brook, New York, United States Oscar Wilde. Photo by Napoleon Sarony, 1882. Via Wikimedia. Public domain.   “There is only one season, the season of sorrow.”1  Imprisoned for a relationship that was criminalized by the government of his time, in 1897 Oscar Wilde had spent two years in jail. Finally granted […]