The Quest for Mental Health: A Tale of Science, Medicine, Scandal, Sorrow, and Mass Society

Front Cover
Cambridge University Press, Jul 19, 2011 - History
This is the story of one of the most far-reaching human endeavors in history: the quest for mental well-being. From its origins in the eighteenth century to its wide scope in the early twenty-first, this search for emotional health and welfare has cost billions. In the name of mental health, millions around the world have been tranquilized, institutionalized, psycho-analyzed, sterilized, lobotomized and even euthanized. Yet at the dawn of the new millennium, reported rates of depression and anxiety are unprecedentedly high. Drawing on years of field research, Ian Dowbiggin argues that if the quest for emotional well-being has reached a crisis point in the twenty-first century, it is because mass society is enveloped by cultures of therapism and consumerism, which increasingly advocate bureaucratic and managerial approaches to health and welfare.

What people are saying - Write a review

The Quest for Mental Health: A Tale of Science, Medicine, Scandal, Sorrow, and Mass Society

User Review  - Book Verdict

The history of mental health has rarely been pretty, and Dowbiggin (history, Univ. of Prince Edward Island) does not shy away from its uglier aspects, such as lobotomy, eugenics, or ... Read full review


1 A New Egalitarianism
2 Bricks and Mortar Humanity
3 Mental Hygiene
4 A Bottomless Pit
5 Emotional Welfare

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2011)

Ian Dowbiggin has taught history at the University of Rochester, the University of Dallas, the University of Toronto and the University of Prince Edward Island. The author of six books on the history of medicine, he has also published in the American Historical Review, the Journal of Contemporary History, the Journal of Policy History, the Canadian Historical Review, the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry and the Bulletin of the History of Medicine. He is on the editorial board of the History of Psychiatry.

Bibliographic information