Tag Archives: psychiatry psychology

The York Retreat

Beninio McDonough-Tranza London, United Kingdom   Painting of the York Retreat by George Isaac Sidebottom, a patient at the retreat in the 1890s and early 1900s. Image from the retreat archives (RET/2/1/7/5), courtesy of the Welcome Collection On 15 March 1790 Hannah Mills, a recently widowed young woman suffering from “melancholy,” was admitted to York Asylum. Less […]

The journey into the blue

Annette Tuffs Heidelberg, Germany   Alfred Doblin, Copyright S. Fischer Verlag “And when I came back – I did not return. You are never the same person you were, when you left.” Thus wrote Alfred Döblin (1878-1957) in 1946, in the newspaper Badische Zeitung in Freiburg,1 a few months after ending his forced absence of […]

The Legacy of Mercy Street Seekers

Ananya Mahapatra New Delhi, India   The Sexton Family during happier times.  Anne Sexton, her husband Alfred Muller Sexton II, and daughters Linda & Joy “In my dream, drilling into the marrow of my entire bone, my real dream, I’m walking up and down Beacon Hill searching for a street sign – namely MERCY STREET. […]

Six years and counting

Libanos Redda Seattle, Washington, United States   The unnerving level of vigilance that anxiety patients maintain For the past six years, I have not been myself. Then again, the memory of my former self has grown a bit foggy over the years. Perhaps things were always this bad. Perhaps I have not changed much at […]

Mental Health in Michel Foucault’s The Birth of the Clinic and the limits of Medical Positivism

Taylor Tso St. Louis, Missouri, United States    “The Madhouse (Casa de locos). Francisco de Goya. In The Birth of the Clinic, Michel Foucault traces the history of our present-day understanding of disease. One of the most significant and more recent problems this understanding had to confront was the pre-nineteenth century outlook that “neuroses and […]

Geza Csath, in defense of interconnectedness

Gerda Kovacs Aalborg, Denmark   Enrique Simonet, La autopsia, Oil on canvas. Height: 177 cm (69.7 in.). Width: 291 cm (114.6 in). Museo de Málaga, Málaga, Andalusia, Spain “I would like to explode, flow, crumble into dust, and my disintegration would be my masterpiece.” – Emil Cioran, On the Heights of Despair   Geza Csath, a […]

“…One must imagine Sisyphus happy”

Katerina Dima Preveza, Greece   “Sysphus, carrying the weight of his agony, forever.” Sisyphus, 1548, Titan Museo del Prado, Madrid, Spain. Ancient Greek mythology teems with stories of morality, despair, and the philosophy of the absurd. No story, however, had a greater impact on this young, impressionable medical student than the story of Sisyphus. Sisyphus […]

She changed her mind

Marlene Berman Boston, Massachusetts, United States   The Extended Reward and Oversight System (EROS). Image A shows the major brain regions in EROS. Images B, C, and D show different views of a main fiber tract, the medial forebrain bundle (chartreuse), connecting the regions in EROS.7,9 Neuroscience is demonstrating that torment can be eliminated by altering one’s […]

Emptiness Melancholia: depression sweet depression

Camila Machado Minas Gerais, Brazil   The opposite of depression is not happiness, but vitality.i – Andrew Solomon   Ophelia, 1851 John Everett Millais. Oil on Canvas. Tate Britain, London, United Kingdom Vitality had seemed to seep away from me through the years, stopping me from feeling  joy, sadness, affection, and love. I felt empty but […]

The 1960s in North American Psychiatry

Mary Seeman Toronto, Ontario, Canada   Rhonda’s “Monks” 1963 Private collection of Mary V. Seeman When I graduated from medical school in 1960, an unprecedented wave of optimism was sweeping the field of psychiatry. Effective antipsychotic medication, the offspring of chlorpromazine,1  was clearing out mental asylums.  New antidepressants, such as imipramine and its many progeny, […]