The Last Of The Lunatics

John Cawte
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The Last Of The Lunatics
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The Last Of The Lunatics

Subjects

Psychology

Published

5 July 1994

ISBN

9780522848045

Weight

222g

Size

213mm x 141mm

Subjects

Psychology

Imprint

Melbourne University Press

The Last Of The Lunatics

John Cawte
A searing historical account of the treatment of the mentally ill in our society before the invention of tranquillizers.

John Cawte looks back in amazement to his years as a young doctor in an Australian madhouse. He now recognises the people he treated in the early 1950s as 'the last of the lunatics'.

Anti-psychotic and anti-depressant drugs were unknown. Bursting asylums, housing an uproar of insanity, were wastelands of stigma and dread. 'Management' techniques ranged from straitjackets and padded cells to isolation and primitive shock treatments.

Miraculously, Cawte's case notes were saved from destruction. Rereading them after forty years, he was gripped by the horror they revealed and the questions they raised. Much has changed for the better. Many of the fearful illnesses he recorded have disappeared, treatments are vastly more effective and stigma has lessened. But his notes hold a surprising and challenging lesson—that temporary 'asylum' from the stresses of life is often all that a disturbed person needs for recovery.

The Last of the Lunatics is rich…

John Cawte looks back in amazement to his years as a young doctor in an Australian madhouse. He now recognises the people he treated in the early 1950s as 'the last of the lunatics'.

Anti-psychotic and anti-depressant drugs were unknown. Bursting asylums, housing an uproar of insanity, were wastelands of stigma and dread. 'Management' techniques ranged from straitjackets and padded cells to isolation and primitive shock treatments.

Miraculously, Cawte's case notes were saved from destruction. Rereading them after forty years, he was gripped by the horror they revealed and the questions they raised. Much has changed for the better. Many of the fearful illnesses he recorded have disappeared, treatments are vastly more effective and stigma has lessened. But his notes hold a surprising and challenging lesson—that temporary 'asylum' from the stresses of life is often all that a disturbed person needs for recovery.

The Last of the Lunatics is rich and moving. The personal stories recorded by a perceptive young man have been filtered by experience and sharpened by telling literary references. Doctors, psychiatrists, those who remember and those who wonder about the human condition will be touched by this compassionate book.

About the author

Emeritus Professor John Cawte held a personal chair in psychiatry and community medicine at the University of New South Wales until 1990. He was a fellow of the national associations of psychiatrists in Australia, the UK and the United States. The latest of his five books is Healers of Arnhem Land (1996). He became an Officer of the Order of Australia, for services to psychiatry and Aboriginal health.

About John Cawte

Paperback
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Ships in 4–10 business days
Other formats available