Endocrine Psychiatry: Solving the Riddle of Melancholia

Hardcover | May 26, 2010

byEdward Shorter, Max Fink

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The riddle of melancholia has stumped generations of doctors. It is a serious depressive illness that often leads to suicide and premature death. The disease's link to biology has been intensively studied. Unlike almost any other psychiatric disorder, melancholia sufferers have abnormalendocrine functions. Tests capable of separating melancholia from other mood disorders were useful discoveries, but these tests fell into disuse as psychiatrists lost interest in biology and medicine. In the nineteenth century, theories about the role of endocrine organs encouraged endocrinetreatments that loomed prominently in practice. This interest faded in the 1930s but was revived by the discovery of the adrenal hormone cortisol and descriptions of its abnormal functioning in melancholic and psychotic depressed patients. New endocrine tests were devised to plumb the secrets ofmood disorders. Two colorful individuals, Bernard Carroll and Edward Sachar, led this revival and for a time in the 1960s and 1970s intensive research interest established connections between hormone dysfunctions and behavior. In the 1980s, psychiatrists lost interest in hormonal approacheslargely because they did not correlate with the arbitrary classification of mood disorders. Today the relation between endocrines and behavior have been disregarded. This history traces the enthusiasm of biological efforts to solve the mystery of melancholia and their fall. Using vibrant language accessible to family care practitioners, psychiatrists and interested lay readers, the authors propose that a useful, a potentially live-saving connection betweenmedicine and psychiatry, has been lost.

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The riddle of melancholia has stumped generations of doctors. It is a serious depressive illness that often leads to suicide and premature death. The disease's link to biology has been intensively studied. Unlike almost any other psychiatric disorder, melancholia sufferers have abnormalendocrine functions. Tests capable of separatin...

Edward Shorter, PhD, is Jason A. Hannah Professor of the History of Medicine at the University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Max Fink is Professor of Psychiatry and Neurology Emeritus at Stony Brook University School of Medicine, Stony Brook.

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:224 pages, 9.25 × 6.13 × 0.98 inPublished:May 26, 2010Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199737460

ISBN - 13:9780199737468

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Table of Contents

Preface1. Introduction2. Early Days3. Cortisol4. Baney Carroll and Ed Sachar5. The DST in Use6. Trouble7. "The most exciting development in the endocrine study of depression"8. The Fall of Endocrine Psychiatry9. Max Fink: Afterword