Pushbutton Psychiatry: A History of Electroshock in America

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Greenwood Publishing Group, 2002 - Medical - 135 pages
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This volume uncovers the roots of electroshock in America, an outgrowth of western patriarchal medicine with primarily female patients. The history of electroshock in the United States in three historic stages is chronicled as it alternated from an enthusiastic reception in 1940, to a period of crisis in the 1960s, to its resurgence after 1980. Early American experiments with electrical medicine are also examined, while the development of electroshock in America is considered through the lens of social, political, and economic factors. The revival of electroshock in recent decades is found to be a product of growing materialism in American psychiatry and the political and economic realities of managed medical care.

Kneeland and Warren suggest that the choice of electroshock, made in an era when a number of other medical therapies were available, was connected to American enthusiasm for electricity and technology in the early 20th century. Temporary rejection of electroshock in the 1960s is explained as the outcome of both an internal crisis in psychiatric authority and the external political and social pressure on psychiatry created by the civil rights movement. Scholars and students considering the history of psychology, psychiatry, science, and medicine or the history of technology will find this volume helpful.


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Into the TwentyFirst Century

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About the author (2002)

TIMOTHY W. KNEELAND is Assistant Professor of History and Political Science at Nazareth College in Rochester, New York.

CAROL A. B. WARREN is Professor of Sociology at the University of Kansas.

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