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Synopsis

In the first comprehensive one-volume history of the treatment of the mentally ill, the foremost historian in the field compellingly recounts our various attempts to solve this ever-present dilemma from colonial times to the present.

Gerald Grob charts the growth of mental hospitals in response to the escalating numbers of the severely and persistently mentally ill and the deterioration of these hospitals under the pressure of too many patients and too few resources. Mounting criticism of psychiatric techniques such as shock therapies, drugs, and lobotomies and of mental institutions as inhumane places led to a new emphasis on community care and treatment. While some patients benefited from the new community policies, they were ineffective for many mentally ill substance abusers. Grob’s definitive history points the way to new solutions. It is at once an indispensable reference and a call for a humane and balanced policy in the future.

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