Hostname: page-component-77c89778f8-gq7q9 Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2024-07-18T09:46:46.209Z Has data issue: false hasContentIssue false

Contending Professions: Sciences of the Brain and Mind in the United States, 1850–2013

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  09 February 2015

Andrew Scull*
University of California, San Diego E-mail:


This paper examines the intersecting histories of psychiatry and psychology (particularly in its clinical guise) in the United States from the second half of the nineteenth century to the present. It suggests that there have been three major shifts in the ideological and intellectual orientation of the “psy complex.” The first period sees the dominance of the asylum in the provision of mental health care, with psychology, once it emerges in the early twentieth century, remaining a small enterprise largely operating outside the clinical arena, save for the development of psychometric technology. It is followed, between 1945 and 1980, by the rise of psychoanalytic psychiatry and the emergence of clinical psychology. Finally, the re-emergence of biological psychiatry is closely associated with two major developments: an emphasis that emerges in the late 1970s on rendering the diagnosis of psychiatric illnesses mechanical and predictable; and the long-term effects of the psychopharmacological revolution that began in the early 1950s. This third period has seen a shift the orientation of mainstream psychiatry away from psychotherapy, the end of traditional mental hospitals, and a transformed environment within which clinical psychologists ply their trade.

Research Article
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2015 

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)


Appel, Toby. 2000. Shaping Biology: The National Science Foundation and American Biological Research, 1945–1975. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.Google Scholar
Ash, Mitchell G., and Söllner, Alfons. 1996. Forced Migration and Scientific Change: Emigré German-Speaking Scientists and Scholars after 1933. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Baker, David B., and Benjamin, Ludy T. Jr. 2000. “The Affirmation of the Scientist-Practitioner: A Look Back at Boulder.” American Psychologist 55:241247.Google Scholar
Baldessarini, Ross J. 2000. “American Biological Psychiatry and Psychopharmacology, 1944–1994.” In American Psychiatry After World War II, edited by Menninger, Roy W. and Nemiah, John C., 371412Washington DC: American Psychiatric Press.Google Scholar
Beck, Aaron T. 1962. “The Reliability of Psychiatric Diagnoses: A Critique of Systematic Studies.” American Journal of Psychiatry 119:210216Google Scholar
Beck, Aaron T., Ward, C. H., Mendelson, M., Mock, J., and Erbaugh, J. K.. 1962. “Reliability of Psychiatric Diagnoses: A Study of Consistency of Clinical Judgments and Ratings.” American Journal of Psychiatry 119:351357Google Scholar
Blader, Joseph C., and Carlson, Gabrielle A.. 2006. “Increased Rates of Bipolar Disorder Diagnoses among U.S. Child, Adolescent, and Adult Inpatients, 1996–2004.” Biological Psychiatry 62:107114.Google Scholar
Brand, Jean L., and Sapir, Philip, eds. 1964. An Historical Perspective on the National Institute of Mental Health. Bethesda MD: National Institute of Mental Health.Google Scholar
Braslow, Joel. 1997. Mental Ills, Bodily Cures: Psychiatric Treatment in the First Half of the Twentieth Century. Berkeley: University of California Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Brunius, Harry. 2006. Better for All the World: The Secret History of Forced Sterilization and America's Quest for Racial Purity. New York: Knopf.Google Scholar
Capshew, James. 1986. “Psychology on the March: American Psychologists and World War II.” Ph.D. diss., University of Pennsylvania.Google Scholar
Committee on Training in Clinical Psychology. 1947. “Recommended Graduate Training Program in Psychology.” American Psychologist 2:2326.Google Scholar
Cooper, John Edward, et al. 1972. Psychiatric Diagnosis in New York and London: A Comparative Study of Mental Hospital Admissions. London: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
Crane, George. 1973. “Clinical Psychopharmacology in its Twentieth Year.” Science 181 (July 13):124128.Google Scholar
Dallenbach, Karl M. 1946. “The Emergency Committee in Psychology, National Research Council.” American Journal of Psychology 59:496582.Google Scholar
Dana, Charles. 1917. “Psychiatry and Psychology.” Medical Record 91:265267.Google Scholar
Danziger, Kurt. 1990. Constructing the Subject: Historical Origins of Psychological Research. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
DeAngelis, Catherine D., and Fontanarosa, Phil B.. 2008. “Impugning the Integrity of Medical Science: The Adverse Effects of Industry Influence.” Journal of the American Medical Association 299:18331835.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Dickinson, C. A., et al. 1933. “The Relation Between Psychiatry and Psychology: A Symposium.” Psychological Exchange 2:149161.Google Scholar
Dowbiggin, Ian Robert. 1997. Keeping America Sane: Psychiatry and Eugenics in the United States and Canada 1880–1940. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
Dwyer, Ellen. 1987. Homes for the Mad: Life Inside Two Nineteenth-Century Asylums. New Brunswick NJ: Rutgers University Press.Google Scholar
El Hai, Jack. 2005. The Lobotomist. New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
Engstrom, Eric J. 2003. Clinical Psychiatry in Imperial Germany: A History of Psychiatric Practice. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
Ennis, Bruce, and Litwack, Thomas. 1974. “Psychiatry and the Presumption of Expertise: Flipping Coins in the Courtroom.” California Law Review 62:693752.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Farreras, Ingrid G. 2001. “Before Boulder: Professionalizing Clinical Psychology, 1896–1949.” Ph.D. diss., University of New Hampshire.Google Scholar
Farreras, Ingrid G. 2005. “The Historical Context for National Institute of Mental Health Support of American Psychological Association Training and Accreditation Efforts.” In Psychology and the National Institute of Mental Health, edited by Pickren, W. E. and Schneider, S., 153179. Washington DC: American Psychological Association.Google Scholar
Farreras, Ingrid, Hannaway, Carolyn, and Harden, Victoria A.. 2004. Mind, Brain, Body and Behavior: Foundations of Neuroscience and Behavioral Research at the National Institutes of Health. Amsterdam: IOS Press.Google Scholar
Fournier, Jay C., DeRubeis, Robert J., Holton, Steven D., Dmidjian, Sona, Amsterdam, Jay D., Shelton, Richard C., and Fawcett, Jan. 2010. “Anti-Depressant Drug Effects and Depression Severity: A Patient-Level Meta-Analysis.” Journal of the American Medical Association 303:4753.Google Scholar
Frances, Allen. 2009. “DSM V Badly Off-Track.” Psychiatric Times 26(June 26).Google Scholar
Frances, Allen. 2013. Saving Normal: An Insider's Revolt Against Out-of-Control Psychiatric Diagnosis, DSM-5, Big Pharma, and the Medicalization of Everyday Life. New York: Morrow.Google Scholar
Friedman, Lawrence J. 1990. “The ‘Golden Years’ of Psychoanalytic Psychiatry in America: Emergence of the Menninger School of Psychiatry.” Psychohistory Review 19:540.Google Scholar
Gollaher, David. 1995. Voice for the Mad: The Life of Dorothea Dix. New York: Free Press.Google Scholar
Greenberg, Daniel S. 1999. The Politics of Pure Science. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
Grob, Gerald. 1966. The State and the Mentally Ill: A History of Worcester State Hospital in Massachusetts. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press.Google Scholar
Grob, Gerald. 1973. Mental Institutions in America: Social Policy to 1875. New York: Free Press.Google Scholar
Grob, Gerald. 1983. Mental Illness and American Society, 1875–1940. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
Grob, Gerald. 1990. “World War II and American Psychiatry.” Psychohistory Review 19:4169.Google Scholar
Grob, Gerald. 1991. From Asylum to Community: Mental Health Policy in Modern America. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
Grob, Gerald. 1994. The Mad Among Us. New York: Free Press.Google Scholar
Hale, Nathan G. 1995. The Rise and Crisis of Psychoanalysis in the United States: Freud and the Americans, 1917–1985. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
Hammond, William A. 1879. “The Non-Asylum Treatment of the Insane.” In Transactions of the Medical Society of New York, 280297. Syracuse: Medical Society of the State of New York.Google Scholar
Harpaz-Rotem, Ilan, and Rosenheck, Robert. 2004. “Changes in Out-Patient Diagnosis in Privately Insured Children and Adolescents from 1995 to 2000.” Child Psychiatry and Human Development 34:339340.Google Scholar
Harris, Gardiner. 2011. “Talk Doesn't Pay, So Psychiatry Turns Instead to Drug Therapy.” New York Times, March 6, p. 1.Google Scholar
Healy, David. 2002 The Creation of Psychopharmacology. Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
Healy, David. 2004. Let Them Eat Prozac. New York: New York University Press.Google Scholar
Healy, David. 2008. Mania: A Short History of Bipolar Disorder. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.Google Scholar
Healy, David. 2012. Pharmageddon. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
Herman, Ellen. 1995. The Romance of American Psychology. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
Horn, Margo. 1989. Before It's Too Late: The Child Guidance Movement in the United States, 1922–1945. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.Google Scholar
Horwitz Allan, V., and Wakefield, Jerome C.. 2012. All We Have to Fear: Psychiatry's Transformation of Natural Anxiety into Mental Disorder. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
Jacobson, D. E. 1895. “Über Autointoxikationpsychosen.” Allgemeine Zeitschrift für Psychiatrie 51:379406.Google Scholar
Johnson, Avery. 2007. “Under Criticism, Drug Maker Lilly Discloses Funding.” Wall Street Journal, May 1.Google Scholar
Jones, Franklin D. 2000. “Military Psychiatry since World War II.” In American Psychiatry After World War II: (1944–1994), edited by Menninger, Roy W. and Nemiah, John C., 336. Washington DC: American Psychiatric Press.Google Scholar
Jones, Peter B., et al. 2006. “Randomized Controlled Trial of the Effect on Quality of Life of Second-Versus First-Generation Antipsychotic Drugs in Schizophrenia.” Archives of General Psychiatry 63:10791087.Google Scholar
Kirsch, Irving, et al. 2008. “Initial Severity and Antidepressant Benefits: A Meta-Analysis of Data Submitted to the Food and Drug Administration.” PLoS Medicine,, last accessed February 26, 2008.Google Scholar
Kraepelin, Emil. 1896. Psychiatrie: Ein Lehrbuch für Studierende und Ärzte, 5th ed.Leipzig: Barth.Google Scholar
Kraepelin, Emil. 1913. Psychiatrie: Ein Lehrbuch für Studierende und Ärzte, 8th ed.Leipzig: Barth.Google Scholar
Kutchins, Herb, and Kirk, Stuart. 1997. Making Us Crazy: DSM: The Psychiatric Bible and the Creation of Mental Disorders. New York: Free Press.Google Scholar
Lacasse, Jeffrey, and Leo, Jonathan. 2005. “Seratonin and Depression: A Disconnnect Between the Advertisements and the Scientific Literature,” PLOS Medicine 2 (12):December.Google Scholar
Landerfeld, Charles S., and Steinman, Michael A.. 2009. “The Neurotonin Legacy: Marketing through Misinformation and Manipulation.” New England Journal of Medicine 360:103106.Google Scholar
Leucht, Stefanet al. 2009. “Second-Generation Versus First-Generation Antipsychotic Drugs in the Treatment of Schizophrenia: A Meta-Analysis.” Lancet 373 (9657):3141.Google Scholar
Lieberman, Jeffrey A. 2006. “Comparative Effectiveness of Antipsychotic Drugs.” Archives of General Psychiatry 63:10691072.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Luhrmann, Tanya. 2000. Of Two Minds: The Growing Disorder in American Psychiatry. New York: Knopf.Google Scholar
MacIver, John, and Redlich, Frederick C.. 1959. “Patterns of Psychiatric Practice.” American Journal of Psychiatry 115:692697.Google Scholar
Makari, George. 2008. Revolution in Mind: The Creation of Psychoanalysis. London: Duckworth.Google Scholar
Menninger, Karl. 1963. The Vital Balance: The Life Process in Mental Health and Illness. New York: Penguin Books.Google Scholar
Mitchell, Silas Weir. 1894. “Address before the Fiftieth Annual Meeting of the American Medico-Psychological Association, held in Philadelphia, May 16, 1894.” Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease 21:413437.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Moreno, C. Laje, et al. 2007. “National Trends in Outpatient Diagnosis and Treatment of Bipolar Disorder in Youth.” Archives of General Psychiatry 64:1032–1–39.Google Scholar
Napoli, Donald. 1981. Architects of Adjustment: A History of the Psychological Profession in the United States. Port Washington NY: Kennikat Press.Google Scholar
Noll, Richard. 2011. American Madness: The Rise and Fall of Dementia Praecox. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
Paris, Joel. 2005. The Fall of an Icon: Psychoanalysis and Academic Psychiatry. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.Google Scholar
Paton, Stuart. 1902. “Recent Advances in Psychiatry and Their Relation to Internal Medicine.” American Journal of Insanity 58:434.Google Scholar
Plant, Rebecca Jo. 2005. “William Menninger and American Psychoanalysis, 1946–48.” History of Psychiatry 16:181202.Google Scholar
Presidential Proclamation. 1990. “The Decade of the Brain, 1990–1999.” Federal Register 55 (July 17):29553.Google Scholar
Pressman, Jack. 1998. Last Resort: Psychosurgery and the Limits of Medicine. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
Rieff, Philp. 1987. The Triumph of the Therapeutic: Uses of Faith after Freud. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
Roelcke, Volker, Weindling, Paul, and Westwood, Louise, eds. 2010. International Relations in Psychiatry: Britain, Germany, and the United States to World War II. Rochester NY: University of Rochester Press.Google Scholar
Rosenberg, Charles. 1992. “The Crisis of Psychiatric Legitimacy: Reflections on Psychiatry, Medicine, and Public Policy.” In Explaining Epidemics, edited by Rosenberg, Charles, chap. 11, 245257. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
Rosenberg, Charles. 2006. “Contested Boundaries: Psychiatry, Disease, and Diagnosis.” Perspectives in Biology and Medicine 49:407424.Google Scholar
Rosenhan, David. 1973. “On Being Sane in Insane Places.” Science 179:250258.Google Scholar
Rothman, David. 1971. The Discovery of the Asylum: Social Order and Disorder in the New Republic. Boston: Little Brown.Google Scholar
Rothman, David. 1980. Conscience and Convenience: The Asylum and Its Alternatives in Progressive America. Boston: Little Brown.Google Scholar
Sawrer-Foner, Gerald T., ed. 1960. The Dynamics of Psychiatric Drug Therapy: A Conference on the Psychodynamic, Psychoanalytic and Sociologic Aspects of the Neuroleptic Drugs in Psychiatry. Springfield IL: Thomas.Google Scholar
Scull, Andrew. 1977. “Madness and Segregative Control: The Rise of the Insane Asylum.” Social Problems 24:337351.Google Scholar
Scull, Andrew. 1981. “The Discovery of the Asylum Revisited: Lunacy Reform in the New American Republic.” In Madhouses: Mad-Doctors, and Madmen: The Social History of Psychiatry in the Victorian Era, edited by Scull, Andrew, 144165. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.Google Scholar
Scull, Andrew. 1984. Decarceration: Community Treatment and the Deviant. Oxford and New Brunswick NJ: Polity Press and Rutgers University Press.Google Scholar
Scull, Andrew. 1991. The Asylum as Utopia: W.A.F. Browne and the Mid-Nineteenth Century Consolidation of Psychiatry. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
Scull, Andrew. 1993. The Most Solitary of Afflictions: Madness and Society in Britain, 1700–1900. London and New Haven: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
Scull, Andrew. 1994. “Somatic Treatments and the Historiography of Psychiatry.” History of Psychiatry 5:112.Google Scholar
Scull, Andrew. 1996. “Focal Sepsis and Psychiatry: The Career of Thomas Chivers Graves, B. Sc., MD. FRCS, MRCVS (1883–1964).” In 150 Years of British Psychiatry, vol. 2, The Aftermath, edited by Freeman, Hugh and Berrios, German, 517536. London: Athlone.Google Scholar
Scull, Andrew. 2005. Madhouse: A Tragic Tale of Megalomania and Modern Medicine. New Haven: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
Scull, Andrew. 2006. The Insanity of Place/The Place of Insanity: Essays on the History of Psychiatry. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
Scull, Andrew. 2010. “Psychiatry and the Social Sciences, 1940–2009.” History of Political Economy 42:2552.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Scully, James H., Robinowitz, Carolyn B., and Shore, James H.. 2000. “Psychiatric Education after World War II.” In American Psychiatry after World War II, edited by Menninger, Roy W. and Nemiah, John C., 124151Washington DC: American Psychiatric Press.Google Scholar
Shamdasani, Sonu. 2012. “Psychotherapy 1909: Notes on a Vintage.” In After Freud Left: A Century of Psychoanalysis in America, edited by Burnham, James C., 3147. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
Shephard, Benjamin. 2001. A War of Nerves: Soldiers and Psychiatrists in the Twentieth Century. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
Shorter, Edward, and Healy, David. 2007. Shock Therapy: A History of Electroconvulsive Treatment in Mental Illness. New Brunswick NJ: Rutgers University Press.Google Scholar
Shorter, Edward. 2009. Before Prozac: The Troubled History of Mood Disorders in Psychiatry. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
Silverstein, Ken. 1999. “” Mother Jones (November-December): 22.Google Scholar
Skues, Richard. 2012. “Clark Revisited: Reappraising Freud in America.” In After Freud Left: A Century of Psychoanalysis in America, edited by Burnham, James C., 4984. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Spitzer, Robert L. 2009. “APA and DSM-V: Empty Promises.” Psychiatric Times (July 2):26.Google Scholar
Spitzer, Robert L., Williams, Janet, and Endicott, Jean 2012. “Standards for DSM Reliability,” American Journal of Psychiatry 169:537.Google Scholar
Spitka, Edward C. 1878. “Reform in the Scientific Study of Psychiatry.” Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease 5:200229.Google Scholar
Tyrer, Peter, and Kendall, Tim. 2009. “The Spurious Advance of Antipsychotic Drug Therapy.” Lancet 373 (9657):45.Google Scholar
Valenstein, Eliot. 1986. Great and Desperate Cures: The Rise and Decline of Psychosurgery and Other Radical Treatments for Mental Illness. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
Van Gieson, Ira. 1896. “Remarks on the Scope and Organization of the Pathological Institute of the New York State Hospitals, Part II: The Toxic Basis of Neural Diseases.” State Hospitals Bulletin 1:407488.Google Scholar
Van Gieson, Ira. 1897–1898. “Notes and Comment.” American Journal of Insanity 54:618.Google Scholar
Von Wagner-Jauregg, Julius. 1896. “Über Psychosen auf Grundlage gastrointernaler Autointoxication.” Wiener klinische Wochenschrift 10:164170.Google Scholar
Whitrow, Magda. 1993. Julius Wagner-Jauregg (1857–1940). London: Smith-Gordon.Google Scholar
Yerkes, Robert M. 1941. “Psychology and Defense.” Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society 84:527542.Google Scholar
Zenderland, Leila. 1998. Measuring Minds: Henry Herbert Goddard and the Origins of American Intelligence Testing. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar