REMINDER: You need to complete two blogs on any of the units we have covered so far. Email them to me by next Monday.

Also on Monday, we will begin talking about your final projects. We discussed how you needed to put three things together: a topic/question, data, and a digital methodology. Come to class with an idea for at least two of these things, and we will talk about how to turn that into a workable project.

Read through the instructions page on Digital Humanities for ideas about tools you might use. I also encourage you to think creatively when it comes to data. You could do a mostly traditional research paper, in which case your data would be journal articles and books. On the other hand, you could decide you want to talk about how mental institutions developed in the US. In that case, your data might be architectural plans, data on the locations of the institutions, etc.

Unit-Wide Questions:

  • What theories are (or aren’t) behind these treatments?
  • Where and how is the patient being altered?
  • Do these treatments require you to believe certain things about the brain? About the mind?
  • How does each treatment relate to the theories of mind we talked about earlier?

October 2: Insulin Comas, ECT & Other Physical Therapies



  • Compare the three articles. Why do different people talk about insulin shock therapy so differently?
  • How do these kinds of physical interventions differ from psychosurgery? How do they differ from drug therapies?
  • Do they work? If so, why? How do we know?

October 7: The Drug Revolution

Read: Anne Harrington’s “Depression” from Mind Fixers: Psychiatry’s Troubled Search for the Biology of Mental Illness

Optional reading/listening: “An Epidemic of Depression or the Medicalization of Distress?” (NPR interview with Anne Harrington)


  • How are psychiatric drugs discovered or created today? What about in the past?
  • Does self-experimentation help or hinder the study of new drugs?
  • What about experimentation on patients—does it matter that drugs are being tested on hospitalized patients? Or that drugs tested on schizophrenics are later used for depression?
  • Do these drugs reflect a certain way of thinking about mental illness? How have they changed our ideas about psychology? What about our ideas about specific disorders?
  • What role does advertising play in the history of psychiatric medications?
  • Do popular understandings of psychiatric medications line up with scientific ideas? If not, is this a problem? For who and how?
  • Harrington suggests that diagnoses are strongly linked to available treatments, thus depression only became commonly diagnosed as antidepressants were created. Likewise, we’ve seen that psychotic disorders were the largest concern in eras where less invasive treatments did not exist, and that neurasthenia was invented as medical knowledge of the nervous system advanced. If that’s true, then what era are we in now? How does contemporary scientific knowledge shape what disorders we think are important or common?

October 9: Talk Therapies


Do: Research one type of psychotherapy (look here, here or here for examples) and make a content map to think through the following questions:

  • Where did it come from?
  • What theories or evidence support it?
  • How has it been implemented?
  • What other types of therapy is it related to?


  • How do we measure the efficacy of talk therapies?
  • Is therapy an art or a science? Or both?