The Curious History of Medicines in Psychiatry
Welcome to this website, which describes books by Wallace Mendelson MD, a psychiatrist and sleep disorders specialist. The overall goal is to provide insights into the current state and history of medicines used for psychiatric and sleep disorders, in an engaging way for readers who are curious but do not necessarily have a technical background.

These fall into three groups:

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.

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.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Information about Dr. Mendelson’s 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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