500 years of psychiatry (500 ans de psychiatrie)


SUMMARY: Succinct timeline of important milestones in psychiatry in list form.

AUDIENCE: This book is written in French and has not been translated to English. As far as technical language barriers are concerned, jargon is not an issue. It will be an interesting read for anyone interested in framing major psychiatric developments and attitudes to mental health in history.

02 Professional

The author
Philippe Brenot is a French psychiatrist and anthropologist. He specialises in human sexuality.

Style and contents

The book is tiny (just over 50 pages) and reasonably jargon-free, an ideal train/plane read.

It consists in short list entries for each important discovery and development in the field of Psychiatry over the past 500 years, from the discovery of important molecules to historical names for mental health disorders.

The gems

I did read it on the train and my fellow travelers must have been amused by my facial expressions as I read some of the more shocking, surprising or fascinating facts. Some of the entries were so mind-blowing that I wrote an entire blog post about it.

I loved its concise, chronological format: just a list of significant milestones sorted per year.

Possible points for optimization

  • It takes a bit of a French-centric view of history
  • It does not cover much in the way of brain imaging
  • It does not cover much about major developments in psychology, ethology and neuroscience.

The verdict:
This was more of a curio read than anything else. I wouldn’t consider it a must-read for every dog behaviourist, and even less every dog owner.

But if you speak French, have an hour on your hands, and want your mind blown by the treatment of mentally illnesses through the ages, I definitely recommend it.

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Author: Brenot Philippe
Genre: historical interest
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