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Beyond dogma and discipline: new directions in the history of psychiatry

Engstrom, Eric J

doi: 10.1097/01.yco.0000245749.91126.15
History and philosophy

Purpose of review The purpose of this review is to highlight recent literature in the history of psychiatry. It considers publications from 2005 to 2006, as well as a few important older works that have not yet been reviewed in these pages.

Recent findings The title of this review essay, ‘Beyond Dogma and Discipline,’ points toward new research that moves beyond the kind of blanket valorizations of psychiatry's past (be they pejorative or laudatory) that had become so commonplace in historiographic discourse. This review surveys new directions of historical research in several important areas (social control, community and family care, sociology of professions, psychoanalysis, nosology, psychopharmacology, and self). Recent work has focused on the multilateral and multivalent interactions of psychiatry with various neighboring disciplines and historical agents, on the integration of psychoanalysis and psychopharmacology into the history of psychiatry, and on the status of psychiatry within broader discourses about the self, identity politics, and the history of emotions.

Summary One of the most important contributions that the recent work in the history of psychiatry has to make involves sharpening our awareness of the contingency and cultural embeddedness of psychiatric knowledge and practice across different domains of time and space.

Institute for the History of Medicine, Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany

Correspondence to Eric J. Engstrom PhD, Institute for the History of Medicine, ZHGB (Humboldt University – FU Berlin), Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Ziegelstrasse 5-9, 10117 Berlin, Germany Tel: +49 30 450 529 019; fax: +49 30 450 529 901; e-mail:; web:

© 2006 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.