by Andrew Scull
Harvard University Press, 2022
Cloth: 978-0-674-26510-3 | Paper: 978-0-674-29551-3 | eISBN: 978-0-674-27646-8
Library of Congress Classification RC443.S394 2022
Dewey Decimal Classification 362.20973


A Telegraph Book of the Year
A Washington Post Notable Work
A Times Book of the Year
A Hughes Award Finalist

“An indisputable masterpiece…comprehensive, fascinating, and persuasive.”
Wall Street Journal

“Brimming with wisdom and brio, this masterful work spans the history of psychiatry. Exceedingly well-researched, wide-ranging, provocative in its conclusions, and magically compact, it is riveting from start to finish. Mark my words, Desperate Remedies will soon be a classic.”
—Susannah Cahalan, author of Brain on Fire

“Compulsively readable…Scull has joined his wide-ranging reporting and research with a humane perspective on matters that many of us continue to look away from.”
—Daphne Merkin, The Atlantic

"Scull's fascinating and enraging book is the story of the quacks and opportunists who have claimed to offer cures for mental illness...Madness remains the most fascinating—arguably the defining—aspect of Homo sapiens."
—Sebastian Faulks, Sunday Times

“I would recommend this fascinating, alarming, and alerting book to anybody. For anyone referred to a psychiatrist it is surely essential.”
The Spectator

For more than two hundred years disturbances of the mind have been studied and treated by the medical profession. Mental illness, some insist, is a disease like any other, from which one can be cured. But is this true?

From the birth of the asylum to the latest drug trials, Desperate Remedies brings together a galaxy of mind doctors working in and out of institutional settings: psychologists and psychoanalysts, neuroscientists and cognitive behavioral therapists, as well as patients and their families desperate for relief. Surprising, disturbing, and compelling, this passionate account of America’s long battle with mental illness challenges us to revisit some of our deepest assumptions and to confront the epidemic of mental illness so visible all around us.

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