The Curious History of Medicines in Psychiatry
Welcome to this website, which describes books and articles by Wallace Mendelson MD on the history of psychiatry and psychopharmacology, as well as other topics. 

These fall into four groups:

History of medicine: ‘The Curious History of Medicines in Psychiatry’, ‘Molecules, Madness, and Malaria’, and ‘Nepenthe’s Children’ describe the discoveries and evolution of medicines used in psychiatry, sleep disorders, infectious disease, and anesthesia. Emphasis is placed on the influence of world events, the personalities of the people involved, and the frequent role of chance observations in these discoveries. ‘Trial by Fire’ describes how the founders of modern neuroscience were affected by, and in turn influenced, World War II. 'The Psychoanalyst and the Nazi Nobelist' is the story of the decades-long friendship between Sigmund Freud and Julius Wagner-Jauregg, the first psychiatrist to win the Nobel Prize. 'The Battle over the Butterflies of the Soul' describes how two differing views of the way nerve cells communicate gave birth to the field of neuroscience.

Literature: 'Fragile Brilliance' describes how Emily Dickinson, Herman Melville, Edgar Allan Poe and other great authors produced a body of extraordinarily creative work while living remarkably troubled lives.

Sleep: ‘The Science of Sleep’ describes our understanding of what sleep is and how it works, but also express the sense of wonder which surrounds it.

Understanding medicines: The goal of ‘Understanding Antidepressants’, ‘Understanding Sleeping Pills’, and ‘Understanding Medicines for Anxiety’ has been to express new insights into treatments for depression, insomnia and anxiety in terms that are meaningful for persons who are experiencing these disorders, in the hope that it will be helpful in making informed decisions when working with a doctor. They are written broadly enough to also be useful for trainees who are learning to prescribe medicines or providers of non-medicine 'talking' therapies.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Dr. Mendelson is a psychiatrist and sleep researcher. Information about his  background and work is available in Wikipedia ( 

RESOURCES, which are accessed from the menu on the left:

         Book Descriptions

         Dr. Mendelson’s online articles: from his blog in Psychology Today as well as a variety of websites devoted to health and medical care. Topics include depression, insomnia, sleep science, and the history of psychiatry.

         Downloads: Including a curriculum vitae and other professional information.




1954 MG-TF

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