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Therapeutic Revolutions

Therapeutic Revolutions: Medicine, Psychiatry, and American Culture, 1945-1970

Copyright Date: 2013
Published by: Rutgers University Press
Pages: 400
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  • Book Info
    Therapeutic Revolutions
    Book Description:

    Therapeutic Revolutionsexamines the evolving relationship between American medicine, psychiatry, and culture from World War II to the dawn of the 1970s. In this richly layered intellectual history, Martin Halliwell ranges from national politics, public reports, and healthcare debates to the ways in which film, literature, and the mass media provided cultural channels for shaping and challenging preconceptions about health and illness.Beginning with a discussion of the profound impact of World War II and the Cold War on mental health, Halliwell moves from the influence of work, family, and growing up in the Eisenhower years to the critique of institutional practice and the search for alternative therapeutic communities during the 1960s. Blending a discussion of such influential postwar thinkers as Erich Fromm, William Menninger, Erving Goffman, Erik Erikson, and Herbert Marcuse with perceptive readings of a range of cultural text that illuminate mental health issues--among themSpellbound, Shock Corridor, Revolutionary Road,andI Never Promised You a Rose Garden--this compelling study argues that the postwar therapeutic revolutions closely interlink contrasting discourses of authority and liberation.

    eISBN: 978-0-8135-6066-3
    Subjects: Health Sciences

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Illustrations
    (pp. vii-vii)
  4. Preface
    (pp. ix-xii)
  5. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xiii-xv)
    (pp. 1-14)

    In this book I want to test two contradictory arguments that raise searching questions about the historical conceptions of illness, health, and medical knowledge. The first argument is that social understanding of health, particularly mental health, has developed considerably since the 1960s—thanks to more specific nomenclature, greater sensitivity to stigma, and better access to public healthcare facilities—and that moral and medical categories are now rarely confused. The second argument is that, despite the healthcare proposals of a number of postwar American presidents, the medical and public understanding of illness—especially mental illness—has not advanced significantly since the...

  7. Part One Fragmentation:: 1945–1953

      (pp. 17-47)

      Toward the end of the Warner Brothers filmPride of the Marines(1945), blinded war veteran Al Schmid makes his way home to Philadelphia after being badly wounded by a Japanese attack in August 1942 while serving on the frontline, on Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands. Al is taken to the Red Cross Naval Hospital in San Diego and undergoes surgery for shrapnel injuries and eye damage. During his long journey to rehabilitation, Al struggles with a lack of self-worth, believing that he will be nothing but a burden to his friends; he even asks a Red Cross nurse to...

      (pp. 48-75)

      The demobilization films of the late 1940s and early 1950s constituted an eclectic genre, bringing together elements of combat movie, domestic melodrama, and the social problem film, the last of which emerged in the 1940s before Cold War tensions and the Hollywood blacklist limited the freedom to tackle pressing social issues directly. Although the Office of War Information carefully vetted depictions of soldiers and veterans during the first half of the 1940s, the demobilization films revealed a widespread commitment to depict the realities and consequences of war. But this did not mean that there was a consensus in the mid-1940s...

      (pp. 76-103)

      Writing fifty years after the end of World War II, Tom Engelhardt warns us against simply seeing 1945 as a triumphant year, claiming that “the end of victory culture” did not begin with the Vietnam War but soon after 1945, when “the pleasures of victory culture” and “the horrors of nuclear culture” became close companions.¹ The privileged players of the Cold War were government agents, scientists, and policymakers, but nuclear and communist fears percolated throughout American culture, from civil-defense activities to science-fiction stories of mutation and alien attack aimed at children and teenagers.² In the government-sponsored filmDuck and Cover...

  8. Part Two Organization:: 1953–1961

      (pp. 107-134)

      Science—The Endless Frontier, the influential report written in 1945 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s science advisor, Vannevar Bush, recommended that “research in the natural sciences and medicine” should not simply be expanded “at the cost of the social sciences, humanities, and other studies so essential to national well-being.”¹ The rise of the social sciences in the decade following this report challenged the privileged position of the physical sciences in the early years of the Cold War, but business and technology were the primary keepers of national well-being during the Eisenhower years, in what amounted to a top-down attempt to...

    • 5 In the Family Circle: THE SUBURBAN MEDICINE CABINET
      (pp. 135-165)

      In 1952 the Eisenhower-Nixon presidential ticket made the promise to “clean house,” which was a well-chosen metaphor designed to exploit suspicions that the Truman administration contained hidden communists and other subversives. The two Republicans promoted themselves as family men, as evident in Richard Nixon’s live television plea of September 1952 to spare the family dog, Checkers—a broadcast that served to deflect the charge that Nixon had received illegal gifts. The public had to wait eight years, until the 1960 Kennedy-Nixon presidential debate, to see what at the time was the defining moment of televised politics, but Dwight Eisenhower and...

      (pp. 166-196)

      On 24 September 1955, at the age of sixty-four, President Dwight Eisenhower suffered a massive heart attack during a vacation in Denver. For a president contemplating a second term in office, this was more than just a return of the “mystery illness” he had experienced in 1949 before entering the political arena.¹ The fact that Eisenhower did run again in 1956, once more with Richard Nixon as his running mate, was a credit to his fortitude. To conceal the president’s precarious health from the public, the Republican campaign team cleverly used television broadcasts and a number of strategic photo opportunities...

  9. Part Three Reorganization:: 1961–1970

    • 7 Institutions of Care and Oppression: ANOTHER AMERICA SPEAKS
      (pp. 199-230)

      John F. Kennedy’s inauguration on 20 January 1961 promised a brighter future than many liberals thought possible during Dwight Eisenhower’s eight years in the White House. Medical progress in the 1950s had been patchy, and the historical record does not credit Eisenhower with forthright medical reform, even though he established the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (HEW) in his first term as president and tried to push a health reinsurance bill through Congress in 1954–1955, without success.¹ Presidents Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson fare better in the history of health reform because important legislation was signed on their...

    • 8 The Human Face of Therapy: HUMANISTIC AND EXISTENTIAL TRENDS
      (pp. 231-259)

      When President Lyndon B. Johnson addressed the nation for the first time on 27 November 1963, five days after President John F. Kennedy’s assassination in Dallas, Johnson struck a reassuring tone. As vice president, he had often been of kilter with the Camelot culture of the Kennedys, and the two leaders had not always seen eye to eye. But in his televised speech, the new president claimed that his predecessor had been “the greatest leader of our time” and sought words “to express our sense of loss” at this “profound shock.”¹ As well as promising to “continue the forward thrust...

      (pp. 260-287)

      The previous two chapters focused on the growing critique of institutionalized medicine during the 1960s, ranging from the social psychology of Erving Goffman and cultural exposés of mental hospitals in chapter 7 to the humanistic and existential topics of chapter 8. I deliberately included Freud infrequently in these discussions in order to exemplify one of the central arguments of this book: that Freudianism has often been too quickly identified as the privileged postwar discourse. However, although a number of key figures challenged the Freudian emphasis on libido as the primary determining factor of psychological health or neurosis, strains of Freudian...

  10. Conclusion: BEYOND THE TWO CULTURES?
    (pp. 289-299)

    The third section of this book has explored the ways in which realism and idealism are tightly woven into discourses of American healthcare after World War II. We have seen how developments in humanist, transpersonal, and group therapy during the 1960s challenged the normative model of medical science that prevailed during the early Cold War period. We have also seen, however, that although institutional critiques accelerated the transition from large state-run hospitals at mid-century toward more integrated therapeutic structures, this shift did not completely shake the foundations of regulatory medical practice, which persisted into and beyond the 1970s. Gerald Grob...

  11. Notes
    (pp. 301-370)
  12. Index
    (pp. 371-382)
  13. Back Matter
    (pp. 383-383)