Whence Psychiatry Came
A practicing psychiatrist at a major New York institution who is a practiced historian too has surveyed the unfolding history of the view of the mind from ‘soul’ to ‘machine’, and in a fluent and colloquial talk took us through five centuries of intellectual development in which like the geographer of a broad river to the sea he named and described each of the tributaries, the theoretical contributors who were mapped also on a number of slides, ending with reading out loud part of his final chapter, which unfortunately like the slides proved too dense to absorb without further study, but which gave the overall impression of humans struggling for a long time to account for phenomena of their interior universe which are simply purely emotionally driven and therefore too complex and unmeasurably ill defined to reduce to any kind of permanent physical science, despite all these efforts to map our interior universe, a limitation which the author semed to agree would apply indefinitely, even if such phenomena as the stimulation of a certain part of the brain with electrodes reliably results in giving the impression in the subjects chosen for the experiment in Canada according to one questioner, that they were, like St Paul on the road to Damascus, undergoing a transcendent religious experience, and so left one with the same impression as that which one had had when one arrived, which is that psychiatry is a matter of subjective analysis whose success is founded in emotion rather than intellectual truths.
“Soul Machine: The Invention of the Modern Mind”
Speaker: George Makari, Director, DeWitt Wallace Institute
for the History of Psychiatry, Weill Medical College
In his book Soul Machine, Dr. Makari takes us back to the
origins of modernity, a time when a crisis in religious authority
and the scientific revolution led to searching questions about
the nature of human inner life. This is the story of how a new
concept―the mind―emerged as a potential solution, one
that was part soul and part machine, but fully neither.
Soul Machine takes us back to the origins of modernity, a time when a crisis in religious authority and the scientific revolution led to searching questions about the nature of human inner life. This is the story of how a new concept―the mind―emerged as a potential solution, one that was part soul and part machine, but fully neither.
In this groundbreaking work, award-winning historian George Makari shows how writers, philosophers, physicians, and anatomists worked to construct notions of the mind as not an ethereal thing, but a natural one. From the ascent of Oliver Cromwell to the fall of Napoleon, seminal thinkers like Hobbes, Locke, Diderot, and Kant worked alongside often-forgotten brain specialists, physiologists, and alienists in the hopes of mapping the inner world. Conducted in a cauldron of political turmoil, these frequently shocking, always embattled efforts would give rise to psychiatry, mind sciences such as phrenology, and radically new visions of the self. Further, they would be crucial to the establishment of secular ethics and political liberalism. Boldly original, wide-ranging, and brilliantly synthetic, Soul Machine gives us a masterful, new account of the making of the modern Western mind.
george_makari_headshot.jpgGeorge J. Makari, MD is Director of Cornell’s DeWitt Wallace Institute for the History of Psychiatry, Professor of Psychiatry at Weill Medical College, Adjunct Professor at Rockefeller University, and Columbia University’s Psychoanalytic Center. Dr. Makari writes and lectures widely on the lessons to be learned from the history of psychiatry and psychoanalysis. He has published numerous articles and essays for professional journal and venues like The New York Times, The Boston Globe, and The Lancet. He is the author of Revolution in Mind, The Creation of Psychoanalysis, which was published in 2008 to wide acclaim. The book has received over 80 reviews, has been or is being translated into numerous languages, and has been the subject of seven scholarly symposiums. His most recent work, Soul Machine: The Invention of the Modern Mind, was released last year, and was called in the Wall Street Journal “brilliant” “essential reading.” In addition to his research, writing, Dr. Makari maintains an active psychiatric practice and lives in New York City.