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Masters of the Mind: Exploring the Story of Mental Illness from Ancient Times to the New Millennium Hardcover – 21 Sep 2004
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A magnificent work from an author who is, himself, a master of the mind. Raymond D. Fowler, Ph.D. (Past President and former CEO of the American Psychological Association)
Sweeping in scope and truly impressive in its scholarship, Millon s text traces historical developments and identifies the thinkers and scientists who from antiquity to the present time have shaped contemporary understanding of how the mind works. This captivating and informative volume will be appreciated and valued by all readers interested in the history of ideas. Irving B. Weiner, Ph.D. (University of South Florida)
Wide ranging, cohesive and imminently readable, Theodore Millon s Masters of the Mind is a tour de force from one of the world s leading psychologists....a major touchstone for all those interested in these fascinating stories of mental disorders and the search for systems to understand and treat [them]. Jeffrey J. Magnavita, Ph.D. (Connecticut Center for Short–Term Dynamic Psychotherapy)
A fascinating, informative, comprehensive, broad–minded, brilliant and perceptive tour of the universe of views of mental function and dysfunction, this book helps the reader understand contributions from nearly every conceivably relevant discipline throughout history. Himself, a long time advocate and practitioner of creative and integrative theory supported by data (as well as measurement techniques designed to generate such data), Millon provides enlightening commentary at the end of each chapter as well as in an epilogue at the end of the book. After reviewing a breathtaking array of perspectives, he offers a simple but profound suggestion for how to put it together. "Intrinsic unity cannot be invented.. by arbitrary efforts to synthesize disparate and disjunctive theoretical schemas... The natural sythesis.. inheres within patients themselves." In this wisdom, he urges all of us – clinicians, theorists and researchers alike to stay close to the data offered ! by real persons– whole human beings seen in the broad array of contexts marked by Millon in this amazing and wonderful book I shall ask that all of my trainees read and re–read it, whether they are still in professional schools, or returning for continuing education. Lorna Smith Benjamin, Ph.D.(University of Utah)
From the Inside Flap
An enlightening study of how philosophers and clinicians throughout history have understood the mind and mental illness
What is thought? What are dreams? Do thoughts and dreams lead us to do the things we do, or are there unknown factors that shape our behavior? If a person's actions are aberrant or disturbing, does the cause lie in their mental state, their cultural environment, the brain? What in fact causes these disorders? Such questions regarding the mind, its maladies, and its health have fascinated thinkers around the world since-and no doubt before-the beginning of recorded thought.
A dazzling piece of intellectual, scientific, and medical history, Theodore Millon's Masters of the Mind takes you on a grand tour of humankind's attempts to understand itself. Millon, a major figure among today's psychological experts, considers the full scope of mental science, from its precedents in early thought, through the rise of its disciplines in the twentieth century, and on to the newest paradigms at work in the twenty-first century.
You'll discover how some of the world's first civilizations regarded mental illness, from Chinese descriptions of "diseases of the wind," to the ancient Egyptian characterization of hysteria, to Greek ideas of divine retribution. Moving easily through the centuries, Millon traces the rise of rationality in philosophy and the beginnings of scientific diagnosis and treatment. In clear, vibrant prose, accompanied by original illustrations, he introduces a cast of characters that includes the great contributors as well as the minor yet fascinating figures who too often are excluded from large-scale histories.
Neither an endless catalogue of central thinkers nor a plodding parade of clinical theories, Masters of the Mind is instead a layered work, deftly tracing the different intellectual strands modern psychology and psychiatry have drawn on and woven together. In doing so, it reveals a field humming with an astonishing diversity of seven key perspectives-humanist, neurological, socio-cultural, and personologic among them-each with its own historic roots, yet all carrying on great traditions of inquiry and healing.
The Roman scholar Cicero wrote, "Those who know only their own generation always remain children." Masters of the Mind opens a door to earlier generations' pondering the mind and consciousness; this link gives the ideas of the present a new clarity. Anyone working in psychology and the neurosciences today-and indeed anyone who loves the story of human knowledge-will want to pick up this wide-ranging, enjoyable, and illuminating book.See all Product description
Top customer reviews
as a practitioner and psychology professor himself millon offers insights that few lay persons or historiens would be able to convey authroitatively to the reader
millon has been very extensive in reasearching and the scholarship is immense
the similarily imposes a multi-field model over the history of mental illness that is very fascinating
BUT - the book also suffers from millon's usual slights: the prose is marked by long sentences featuring uncessary amounts of unnessesary big words. and the constant reflections, pauses for elaboration and deference to millon's meta-model slow down the reading.
as such, a book that could have been a once-in-a-lifetime masterpiece history of mental illness ended up being just great. and that is a real loss for the field.
my hope is that someone like Matt Ridley, Anthony Gottlieb, or Philip Ball will some day pick up this volume and write a version of it that is smooth and a real joy to read
One of the philosophic debates this book did throw a 'very' helpful light on, is the difference between deduction and induction - a significant theme for psychology too in its various approaches, i.e. phenomenology versus clinical objectivity. Of course the two are related, and Millon makes the reader clearly aware of this fact. In any 'considered' walk of life, I would think an explication of the subtleties of reasoning to be so crucial, as to be a necessary requirement for a healthy integrative mind, and maybe this is what the author also alludes to in the title Masters of the Mind, rather than being a straight forward biographical and historical fragmentary analysis.
However, you do get the impression that these key figures of history that Millon describes are highly intellectual researchers of the mind, that rise above their own neurotic and narcissistic tendencies (there are a few notable exceptions, e.g. Reich) Thus at times they can come across as kindly Philosopher Kings in their ivory towers - which cannot really be levelled as a criticism.. just my personal bias, having been fed a more populist diet of angst ridden character biographies in the past..
Another area the book excels in is its critical comments and reflections of each modality, e.g. humanistic, existential, psychoanalytical etc. As you'd expect from a man who is also cited in his own book (it made me wonder how he would review his own work...rather brutally honest it must be said), you get the impression that his considered analyses covers every weakness and strength as fashionably accepted within academic circles, which would make a great resource for essay writing on the subject. The book is not an easy read it has to be said, and is one that would gain from continual rereading to ingest its immense scope. I would also recommend imbibing it in conjunction with Bertrand Russell's A Brief History of Philosophy. That is how highly I rate Millon's philosophical grasp of his subject. I particularly admired his exposition of the humanistic and existential philosophers, and the many similarities that occur between them, which I had never teased out before.
Millon finalises his story of the mind by referring to his own subject area, which he terms Personologic that outlines the numerous attempts of measuring styles and disorders of personality, some self-authored. Though the other schools of psychology covered (having their modern roots in introspection, structuralism, functionalism, and reductionism) can be somewhat lacking in describing the 'total' personality, personologic psychologies attempt at grasping this more illusive and fundamental quality of being human.
As a last stop then on the trail of the author's logical progression, the stage is set for the almost inevitable epilogue of current trends towards potentiation and synergy, via a merging of different perspectives. True to form Millon teases out convincing arguments that combinatory psychologies may have inherent problems, especially if not practiced by a skilled therapist. Nevertheless I believe that a seismic shift is taking place within psychology, which I wasn't sure Millon is entirely cognizant with. No mention is made about the emerging holistic leftfields of energy psychology, integral psychology, and alternative therapies, which would in my opinion have roundly completed this book. Many consider these areas to be at the cutting edge of psychological thought in the 21st century which though highly conjectural when posited against established scientific paradigms, could have a potential scope for 'introcepting' personality. Quite clearly Millon is not the likely candidate to venture into these pseudo scientific transpersonal areas - Intellectual rigour and holism are sometimes ill bed fellows, but the same accusation could also be levelled at psychoanalysis. But.... my God it does give you hope for a happier functioning world, than one of psycho neuropharmacology, multi-phasic measurements and CBT, which appears to be the only visionary cure right now for the discipline of mental illness recovery!
It is oft repeated as a student of Psychology.. "that it is still a subject in its infancy." Is it? After reading this broad and brilliant analysis you would certainly not think so. Psychology has a comparable history to the so-called established sciences, if one broadens the subject's definition beyond its modal categories. This book makes wonderful links with the early 5th and 4th century Greek philosophers and shows that many of the themes that have formed the basis for the subject of psychology, and are still in hot debate today, can be traced back to those early theorists. As Millon wisely avers, much of psychological investigation since the ancients can be regarded as an addendum rather than a supplantum. I was surprised to learn that those clever Greeks even had their heads in quantum physics.
Masters of the Mind: Exploring the Story of Mental Illness, is an indispensable guide for any student or keen reader of the subject, especially if, like me, you see four weeks of intermittent reading as an opportunity to reorganise and reacquaint yourself with the history of western philosophic thought. Even if this was not quite what the title of the book suggested, it was very gratefully appreciated. Thank you Theodore, I cannot wait to read another one of your books.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
Among the best features of the book is its honest and inspiring look at the multiple perspectives which abound in today's psychology and how they can be traced to ancient times. The ancient/sacred, neuroscience, psychoanalytic, cognitive, behavioral, gestalt, humanistic and socio-cultural perspectives are all traced and detailed. Millon avoids disparaging each perspective. Instead, he shares the strengths and weaknesses in the words and actions of the scientists and philosophers whose works represent the critical thoughts in each area.
While it is difficult to read more than one chapter at a time (it is that comprehensive and detailed), a chapter a day will certainly make for an excellent review of psychology for a good two weeks. In fact, the last two weeks have been remarkably educational. (I decided to read this book during a two week break from graduate classes).
For each perspective, Millon follows a three stage process of detailing its hisory. First, he offers a summary and review of the major historical movements within the perspective. Then, a detailed history (person by person, country by country) is proffered. Finally, Millon offers his own unique and insightful commentary. Millon and his daughter's own artwork (portraits of key scientists and philosophers) provide helpful context. In addition, each scientist's contributions are shared in concert with a brief biography. Finally, in those cases where Millon actually met or worked with one of the psychologists, he shares his own observations. For example, Beck truly does appear to be a nice guy, while Ellis appears truly narcissistic and arrogant.
I'll admit that the average reader may find Millon's style, at times, difficult. He loves to use big words and assumes some level of prior understanding of psychological constructs. However, as a psychology instructor and student, I found his book enlightening, interesting, at times funny, and many times educational. The book offered incredible food for my college lectures and inspired me to continue to hold on to a multi-perspective, eclectic view of the cause of mental illness. It truly appears likely from history that a multi-perspective view is most consistent with a view of humans as complex with behaviors that could result from the interaction of numerous causes.
That's just my opinion...
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